Winter Solstice 2022

Remember…

Sitting around a campfire at night?

The circle of light within a vast ocean of darkness?

Leaving the fire and how the darkness swallowed you up as you felt your way to your tent to drop into the darkness of sleep?

Our bodies were made for darkness just as much as they were made for light.

For the darkness that invites non-doing and rest, slowness and dreaming, waiting and hope.

For the darkness that allows our bodies to heal, to regenerate, and rebalance in sleep.

Before electricity, we lived with, in, and by the dictates of the dark. In addition to fire light, there were candles and grease lamps, but they weren’t abundant, so they were saved for necessary tasks.

In the winter, we slept earlier in the evening and later in the morning, in accordance with the sun’s light.

And outside of our homes, it was dark—no street lights, car headlights, lit-up buildings…

Now, unless you live away from other houses in the country, it’s hard to experience total darkness.

Have you seen those maps of the world showing the light at night? It’s called light pollution and has become a health hazard to our bodies and to the creatures we share this world with.

Sea turtle hatchlings can’t find their way out to sea by the light of the moon because the city lights confuse them. Lack of darkness interrupts the predator/prey relationship, and even frog and toad breeding cycles. Birds that hunt or migrate at night have a hard time following the moon or stars, and seasonal migrations may even get knocked off their regular patterns due to light pollution.

Light pollution has taken away the dark. It has taken away the night sky.

One Secret by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
Not the brilliant stars
But the infinite dark
What I wish on

This time of deepening darkness that reaches its peak at the Winter Solstice is an invitation to allow the dark to affect us, but not hold us captive.

It is an invitation to adapt to the living earth like all other creatures.

It is an invitation to allow ourselves to slow down, to dream, to rest.

It is an invitation to let old patterns, polarities, and problems that aren’t serving us dissolve as fresh, new life is rewoven in the growing light.

Holiday parties break up the darkness, bringing us together to feast and share in the coming light.

But then let us return to the darkness. To the unraveling, the unwinding, the making ready for the new.

Let us connect with the living earth and her rhythms to wait and trust that the sun will return again.

And then let the light find its way, day by day, from the midst of the darkness, growing, shining, bringing new life.

This is the promise of Winter Solstice.

In 2022, Winter Solstice arrives at 1:47 pm PT

on Wednesday the 21st of December.

If you’d like to mark this time on your own, I have a few suggestions for rituals in past blogposts here:

If you would like to be in community, I will be guiding an outdoor, earth-based, family-friendly ritual at Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in the courtyard from 7-8 pm on the 21st. Read more.

My winter dreaming is bringing changes…

Since we moved to Port Townsend, Washington in the summer of 2019, life has changed a lot!

My main focus, when I am not working, is tending the land (growing as much edible, medicinal, and native as possible) and tending my family (husband, dog, aging parents, myself). And I am still singing–how could I not?

Because of this, I have not sought to build a coaching practice, even though I do still see clients from time to time. And now, I need to simplify more, so I’m going to let this big website go. I plan to create a blog site, so you will still hear from me from time to time.

Happy Winter Dreaming and Winter Solstice! I wonder what you will dream into?

Fall Equinox 2022: Asking Toward the Light

Image by Joe from Pixabay

Happy Fall Equinox!

 

I arise facing East,
I am asking toward the light,
I am asking that my day shall be beautiful with light.
I am asking that the place where my feet are shall be light,
That as far as I can see I shall follow it aright.
I am asking for courage to go forward through the shadow,
I am asking toward the light!
~Mary Austin

Normally for Fall Equinox (September 22nd, 2022 at 6:03 pm PT), there is talk of the waning light, but I want to start with this beautiful prayer poem of light.

I have been praying it every morning recently, facing East, asking toward the light.

I love how open this phrase is, asking toward the light.

The prayer poem asks for some general things—for a day beautiful with light, that light will be where I am and that I shall follow it aright, for courage to face the difficulties of the day…

But it’s not asking for specific outcomes, for how my ego thinks the day should turn out.

It’s really more about setting an intention to align myself with the light, no matter how late the dawn comes and how early the dusk arrives, no matter how cloudy or sun-filled the day is, no matter how the day goes…

It’s almost as if I am aligning with what our plant brothers and sisters know how to do naturally. They know how to follow the light, how to bend toward it, how to store it, how to create food and seed and strength with it.

And then as the light becomes less and less, they know how to take that light in and send it into their roots or to release that light and let their bodies fall to the ground.

 

This is an important teaching of the Fall:

  • we can keep receiving the light,
  • having filled up with light, we can release it like leaves that fall,
  • and we can store the light for nourishment and give it away to others.

 

So, on this Fall Equinox, may we be asking toward the light and allowing the growing darkness.

May we be asking toward the light and storing it up, not only for ourselves, but for all beings.

 

Happy Fall Equinox!

the steady center


Cutting Loose by William Stafford
Sometimes, from sorrow, for no reason,

you sing. For no reason, you accept
the way of being lost, cutting loose from
all else and electing a world
where you go where you want to.

Arbitrary, sound comes. A reminder
that a steady center is holding
all else. If you listen, that sound
will tell you where it is and you
can slide your way past trouble.

Certain twisted monsters
always bar the path—but that’s when
you get going best, glad to be
lost, learning how real it is
here on earth again and again.

 

Thanks to my Full Voice Coach Training last year, I’ve started reviewing the poems I’ve learned by heart over the years. (Poetry is a wonderful way to practice exploring different parts of your voice.)

I almost always start my day with poetry—a bit of beauty, of inspiration, of deeper meaning to open my heart and mind first thing.

 

This poem by William Stafford jumped out of my stash of poems, asking to be brought back into my bodysoul, so I’ve been reciting it every morning, waking up the poem within me again—or should I say, allowing it to wake up me?

 

The reminder that from sorrow—in fact, from anything—anger, joy, even fear—we can sing…

Singing is another practice I do every morning. Usually I sing to greet the morning. Sometimes I hear melodies that become songs through me. And often I sing along to a song I’m learning.

For no reason, except that singing wakes me up, too—lights me up, and connects me with a deeper heartful and devotional contact with life (myself included).

 

Singing has been a lifesaver in this transition of settling into a new home and community, a tether, a grounding cord to Being. Even though I feel lost—and often even “accept the way of being lost”—singing/sounding provides a constant “reminder that a steady center is holding all else.” 

And that “all else” includes me.

 

I also listen to the new sounds here—the shooshing of the wind in the fir, spruce, and hemlock, the west-coast birds greeting the day, the bark and talk of our new dog Sammy to get our attention, the crackle of the fire in the woodstove, the rain on the metal roof, the voices of my parents…

 

Sound/song/singing does help me “slide [my] way past trouble” because it unsticks me, “cutting loose from all else” that might be running in my mind, landing me here, now, in the moment, with this particular beauty.

The “twisted monsters” barring my path are very familiar and include fear of loss, fear of newness, fear of not-knowing, frustration at the time it is taking to settle, overwhelm at how much there is still to do…

And these are familiar stories—they crop up wherever I am because I always bring myself with me… Remembering this helps me “get going best, glad to be lost, learning how real it is here on earth, again and again.”

 

This being human is no joke!

We get lost over and over, and we re-find our hold on that steady center over and over, again, too. This is reality here in Eairth.

We sorrow, we sing, we cut loose, we find our steady center, we get lost, and we do it all over again…

 

How do you hold fast to your steady center when you feel lost?

 

It’s good to remember these teachings now as we move more deeply into Fall in the northern hemisphere. With the waning light and cooling temperatures, this seasonal transition of completion and letting go as we move toward Winter heightens the sense of loss even as we harvest and celebrate.

It’s a time to deepen our practice of welcoming everything, to add more stillness and cozy time amidst the Fall chores.

 

And if you’re near Port Townsend, consider joining me
for a Fall Women’s Practice Mini-Retreat!

creating sacred space

 

Turn as the earth and move, turn,
Circling what [you] love.
Whatever circles comes from the center.
~ Rumi

Your sacred center.

What does that phrase evoke in you?

Your sacred center.

Where is it?

Is it some place in your body?

With a certain person?

In some belief you hold dear?

In some special place you go to in order to return to yourself?

Asian cultures tend to point to the hara or lower dantien as their sacred center. It’s the energy center just below the belly button, also known as the 2nd chakra, the place from which we sense our ground, our rootedness.

Hinduism, Sufism, and many Western traditions identify the heart as the sacred center, that place from which we feel our connection to the Divine / Love / the Beloved.

What about the mind? That is, afterall, what is thought to distinguish us as humans from other animals. Is it not sacred?

Among others, Buddhism, the Diamond Approach, and philosophical and scientific traditions highly value the qualities of vast, open, spacious mind, which can creatively perceive and receive understanding and knowing.

4th Way teacher, G.I. Gurdjieff, one of the grandfathers of the Enneagram, taught that we are 3-centered beings, so it make sense that each Center would have its own way of perceiving the sacred as it has its own way of experiencing life.

Sacred Center…

The Celts believed that trees recognize sacred ground and step back from it to create a clearing of sacred space (a nemeton), where earth and heaven join. Here, in the sacred center, Druids and others gathered to deepen their connection to Source.

People worldwide create places of worship—temples, mosques, churches, cathedrals—to demarcate sacred space. Often, it is found that under these buildings lie magnetic earth currents, called ley lines or even holy lines.

And, of course, the circle is a symbol of unity, a demarcation of the sacred connection of all things.

Consider the circle of your in- and out-breath.

Consider the circle of the day or the seasons.

Consider the circle of your life, born of eairth* and returning to eairth.

Consider the cycle of nourishment from earth, sun, and rain that grows seeds into plants that we harvest and eat.

This cycle sounds like one of nature giving to us. How do we complete the circle? We must give back something to eairth. We give back our breath, the CO2, to nourish the Green Ones (but they also give us their O2 to breathe).

How else can we play our part in the circle of nourishment? We can tend and care for eairth—by not polluting her, not trashing our source of nourishment. We can sing to her, praise her, celebrate her.

You can create sacred space anytime.

You don’t need to find a nemeton or a particular sacred building or space. It’s more about how you perceive your life.

We are each at the center of the circle of sacred space.

Not in a selfish way, but in the sense that all of our experience starts here, within us, in touch with body, heart, and mind, all three Centers, which opens us to Spirit and Soul.

At any time, you can perceive the circle of sacred space you are in by landing in your body to reconnect with yourself and eairth. Open your senses—what do you see, smell, taste, hear, touch/sense?

Notice your heart—how does what you are sensing affect you? How do you feel? Hint: It doesn’t have to be “good”—all feelings are welcome. Open your heart and let them flow through you, touching you.

Witness your mind. Thoughts will be there—observe them and allow them to pass through, like clouds that clear away to reveal a vast, open sky. Experience the immensity of the mind.

By engaging all three Centers openly, you open to contact with more life. Instead of staying caught in your thoughts, feelings, or body sensations or ignoring one or all of them, you are right here, right now, with all of it.

This, too, is nourishment. There is no forcing or dominating of yourself, others, or nature. You are simply here, present with what is, offering yourself to life, letting life move through you and affect you, participating in the sacred circle.

One of my current practices for creating sacred space is a breathing pattern I learned from Chameli Ardagh. These days, I practice it outside every morning. It helps me reconnect with earth and heaven, with soul and spirit, with all living beings. Try it on:

Turn as the earth.
Circle what you love.
Come from the center.

Here is Libana singing the Rumi poem from the top.

* I use “earth” to refer the ground, the soil, and “eairth” to refer to the living, evolving planet we live in, composed of earth and air.

Freedom to Rise like Trees

Painted by Laurie Evans

 

From all quarters, life on this precious Eairth

is desperately calling for the rising of

the rooted Feminine—in both women and men.

 

Eairth* and all her creatures are gasping for breath.

We lose between 1 and 300 species every day (low to high estimates), and it is widely thought that we humans are causing the sixth great extinction, presently underway.

Our Eairth home is warming and her interconnected life systems are responding by creating chaotic and destructive weather patterns which make it less hospitable for all life, humans included.

Our human family is forgetting not only our connection to Eairth, but to each other with the rise of more and more nationalistic movements across the world.

 

And meanwhile, we continue business as usual, as if the worn-out industrial-growth society could ignore the problem and continue consuming more and more…

We pour more money into unsustainable practices, trying to get the last bit of fossil fuel out of Eairth with complete disregard for Gaia’s life systems** that are being broken in the process.

We pour more money into genetically engineering seeds and animals and genes as if we could do better that Gaia that has been evolving and supporting us for 4.5 billion years…

 

We need to wake up and let the rooted Feminine

consciousness rise up and inform our lives, our actions,

and our world before it is too late,

 

before we lose the freedom we celebrate on July 4th—

especially the freedom to be alive on this precious planet.

 

The beautiful image at the top of this blogpost, painted by my dear friend Laurie Evans, can give us an image to hold before us, to live with.

Can you feel how rooted she is? Rooted in tree and freely branching, leafing, flowering into life.

 

Before growing tall, tree roots take time to grow deep—up to 200 feet deep—into the earth. There they receive nourishment and stability from the depths, from deep sources of water and minerals and stone.

What deep sources of nourishment do you have, to fill your well, to root you in your deepest Essence?

The Feminine embodied consciousness knows the value of turning within, of the nourishment of inner life.

When we are deeply rooted inside, we discern Truth and are not swayed by the opinions of others. We choose healthfully for all life. We value our spiritual practices as a way of sustaining connection to soul including the anima mundi, or, world soul.

 

 

Tree roots also spread wideat their widest, three times the width of their crowns (and mature crowns spread up 590 feet wide, so you do the math!). In his astonishing book, The Hidden Life of Trees, Peter Wohlleben describes how this wide root network is the primary way trees communicate with and feed each other.

And even more beautiful, trees communicate through symbiotic relationships with special types of funghi that grow on their roots! The funghi receive sugars the trees produce from photosynthesis and give back water and minerals, as well as communication networks that Peter refers to “the wood-wide web.” They can transmit messages to other trees along these root network systems—about danger and sickness, and the need for nourishment.

What wide root networks do you have, that you feed and that feed you? Our interconnections with others are necessary on the path of awakening. We need to support each other—to be warned of danger ahead or when we lose our way, to be reminded of the need for true nourishment…

The Feminine is relational.

When rooted in our Feminine nature, we do not over-give or lose ourselves. We do not stay too long in relationship. We do not forget ourselves and wind up exhausted and burned out. We stay connected and know that each person brings a gift to the table.

 

 

Tree nature has intricate, indigenous lifeways that guide natural tree growth. What we could call tree instincts respond as needed in the moment without question—sending sap, messages, and energy. Their instinctual tree-wisdom arises to meet life, with utter faith that their response is in alignment with Gaia’s rhythms.

How do you trust your instinctual, indigenous nature? We humans have life-intelligence inherited from our animal ancestors. This native wisdom helps us stay rooted and alive as part of the interconnected web of life. It tells us when we are hungry, in danger, in need of bonding or of the shelter of a friend.

Rooted in the Feminine, we trust our instinctual intelligence to guide us.

We know ourselves as embodied—as earthly, incarnate, with a body that needs tending, a heart that needs loving, and a mind that needs opening. The Feminine knows the value of the body and does not try to transcend it and the greater body of Eairth, but to live more fully embodied, more fully incarnate, here, in this life, exactly as it is right now.

 

 

Trees know how to not only root, but how to branch and leaf and flower and fruit and seed!! Their circulatory system pumps sap nourishment from the sun through the leaves down to the roots, and from storage in the roots, back up when it is needed. A healthy sap-system supports not only inner, but outer growth. Mature trees release their seed, give away the fruits of their growth—in flower, fruit, or seed—so that their essence can live on even after they release their standing forms to the earth.

How are you called out, once your well is sufficiently filled, to branch, to leaf, to blossom? What have you been developing deep within yourself that calls for expression, that wants to be given away as a gift for others? It needn’t be big to be of service—we’re not all meant to be Michelle or Barak Obama, Joanna Macy or Brian Swimme! But we are all called to be ourselves and of service to the world. Maybe it’s random acts of kindness, or a listening ear, or maybe you’re called to protest or form a PTA or help save a river.

As John O’Donohue says in Eternal Echos, “The wisdom of the tree balances the path inwards with the pathway outwards” (p. 149). When we are deeply rooted in our inward path, the pathway outward is a natural outcome. The rooted and rising Feminine is not about just doing our spiritual practices!! Yes, that’s crucial to keep the root well-nourished, but we are also called to give birth—to blossom and give of our fruit.

The Feminine within us all feels the call to embody our Truth—to birth it in our daily lives and to be of service to Eairth, to others, to the world…

 

 

As I was writing this blogpost, a big, welcome storm blew through. I was sitting on the front porch in the early morning watching the graying sky on the horizon, feeling the wind gaining strength, blowing my hair and clothes. When the storm landed, the trees started dancing with the wind—not just their leaves and branches, but their trunks, too. Being deeply rooted, deeply belonging to Eairth, trees have faith in their foundation and solidity. Buffeted by stormy winds, trees stay flexible and participate with the storm. Not resisting—simply responding to the wind, they become its dance partner.

How flexible are you when the storm hits? (Because it always will!) Are you able to sway with the wind and trust your nourished, deep and wide roots?

The Feminine knows the value of fluidity, of responding to life flexibly.

She is not stuck in fixed opinions and beliefs, but knows that everything life brings is worth interacting with, worth considering. She feels deeply, responds, and flows with the winds of life.

 

 

Trees root in one place for their whole lives. Because of this, they know the value of patience, of endurance, of trusting time. Storms come and go, predators cause damage and may even cut them down. But they persevere, even in death, knowing that right here is where they belong.

How do you find belonging in these times of disrupted families, ever-growing screen-time, and lack of Eairth connection?

The Feminine knows how to make home, to create the shelter of belonging wherever we are

in the city or country, in a house or tent, with yourself or with others. This is the part of us that knows how to belong to ourself, to others, and to Eairth. And in that belonging is the safety and shelter of home.

 

Like trees, rooting, we freely rise.

 

Nourish your roots, trust your instinctual intelligence, be of service, be flexible, and create a shelter of belonging for all Eairth, for all life.

Together, with the rooted and rising Feminine in each of us, we express our freedom, and heal our relationship with ourselves, with each other, and with Eairth.

 

The trees do everything totally.
They don’t hold back.
They fruit completely.
They stretch to the sun completely.
They give their all. They drop their leaves completely.
They disappear into the ground
and root themselves down completely.
They’re total. They’re total permission.
If you want to learn how to live, learn from trees.
~ Clare Dubois, Founder of TreeSisters

 

What do you need to learn from

 the rising Feminine nature of trees

in this season of your life?

 

* Eairth = earth and air together, our planet home, first heard from Thomas Berry (I think!)

** Gaia = the self-regulating living system of our planet

Savoring Eairth’s Gift of Summer

The People
Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life continue.
We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other
and all living things. So now, we bring our minds together as one
as we give greetings and thanks to each other as people.
Now our minds are one.
~ from the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address: Greetings to the Natural World

 

Summer Solstice, the threshold of Summer,

the outer sign of an inner developing,

an inner maturing into fullness. 

At 10:54 am CT on Friday, June 21, we in the Northern Hemisphere enter into the days of lush growth, of rampant blossoming, of warmth and celebration.

We are held in this natural cycle of life that Eairth and her seasons continually unfold, a cycle that invites us to us back into balance and harmony with ourselves, with each other, and with all living things.

The wren that has been singing to me daily this week is living out her natural cycle—she has been nest building and tending, and sharing the abundance of the beginning summer in her beautiful song. Take a listen above if you have not already!

And isn’t it interesting that at Summer Solstice, at the peak of the longest days of light and the generous greening of Eairth, we also turn the corner towards Winter Solstice? Every day past the Summer Solstice will get a little shorter and each night a bit longer until we reach the longest night on December 21.

Summer correlates energetically with the Full Moon
(this past Monday)—

the fullness of energy, the following of desire,

living large, embracing our passion…

And we know, just like the cycle of the moon, already beginning to wane, that summer is also balanced with winter—expansion with contraction, light with dark, activity with rest—always balancing and harmonizing in the natural cycles of life…

What would it be like to live into our fullness, to follow our desire, knowing that it is deeply rooted in the dark, fertile nourishment of Eairth?

To only follow desire so long as it is tethered always to Source, like an umbilicus connecting us with the nourishment of the Mother?

The Native American Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address continues by first honoring the Earth as our Mother:

The Earth Mother
We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy
that she continues to care for us as she has from the beginning of time.
To our mother, we send greetings and thanks.
Now our minds are one.

Feeling the ground of support of the Mother under our feet, receiving the gifts of her bounty—fertile soil, food, water, air, birdsong, animals, mountains, trees, plants, rivers, oceans… Without these we would not be alive!

Summer is the perfect time to appreciate these gifts—

to savor the abundance of Eairth and of our lives.

Moving too fast and doing too much—habits I easily fall into—keep us from savoring. And it’s usually a sign that we’ve forgotten the deep rootedness and moment-by-moment belonging to Eairth, skating along on the surface, not experiencing our daily life as a gift.

One of the ways I’ve been savoring recently is through all the sweet friend dates we’ve been having before we move (in a little over 2 weeks!).

Normally, the most time I might have spent would have been 1-2 dates/week; but now, sometimes we have up to 4 dates in a week!! When I look at my calendar, my habitual self thinks it’s crazy…

But, in reality, we’ve both been really conscious about savoring these in-person connections that we will be leaving behind as we settle in a new land. Instead of feeling distracted or depleted from too many dates and too much to do, by staying connected with our deeper rootedness and relaxing in the field of connection between us, we feel abundant and full of gratitude for these connections!

Another way I practice savoring is sitting on the front porch in the morning, looking out at the dancing river birch, the green lushness of ferns, pachysandra, and hosta circling it, marinating in sun and birdsong. And when walking through the neighborhood, I open all of my senses to savor the profusion of summer beauty that Eairth is opening into right now. (Find more savoring practices.)

Open to this moment. Live it. Belong to it.

Summer is a gift given by our Mother, Eairth, right now.

Live in harmony, enter the cycle of abundance and celebration, of savoring and en-joying, knowing that this cycle will give way to the next, a new season, a new rhythm of life.

And like our indigenous brothers and sisters, two-legged, four-legged, winged, standing, sitting, lying, and flowing ones, give thanks for the generosity of Eairth, who continues to give us all that we need for life.

trusting uncertainty

I trust what this body knows
breathing in, breathing out
the way home.

I trust the ground, which I can stand upon–
the earth that rises to meet my feet
and gives gently beneath my weight.

And I trust that ground which I cannot stand upon–
the falling away that everything returns to.

~ Oren Sofer

 

This week and last I am doing my final round of substitute yoga teaching at my local studio–the last because, in a month, we’ll be moving to the Pacific NorthWest!

I always try to align my yoga teaching with the cycle of the moon. In this way, our practice is about more than being flexible, or strong, or having better balance, but also about listening to and aligning with deeper, natural cosmic processes that we are part of, whether we bring our conscious awareness to them or not…

The first week of subbing was the week of the waning moon–the peak of energy at full moon past, falling toward new moon. We practiced feeling the ground with our body and breath, and inhaling this grounded energy up through the body, we also allowed it to rise to meet us, rising us up to connect with sky energy.

Throughout the practice, we continually returned to this rooted and rising awareness, connecting earth and sky in our bodies.

 

This week of subbing, it’s New Moon week (June 3rd)–the week of rest, and preparing the ground for new seeds to grow.

Our practice is focusing on trusting the ground that rises up to meet our bodies and not as actively rising up to the sky. We move more slowly, we spend more time on the ground, we spend more time returning and resting.

 

This is also the stage Dave and I are in

with our huge moving project.

 

The peak was a few weeks back when we loaded the truck, working with on- and off-schedule contractors to get our house ready to be staged while we were away, driving half of our Minnesota home to our new home in Washington State.

Since then, we’ve been coming down, back to ground.

Staying connected to breath and ground sustained us (among other things), and now we can consciously follow, as much as we can, the call to return to deeper ground.

We return to life-sustaining rhythms of longer morning practice time, to embodiment practices that remind us of the body’s natural intelligence, to cooking more wholesome and healing meals that nourish and sustain our animal bodies…

 

And, over and over again, we practice

“trust[ing] that ground which [we]

cannot stand upon–the falling away

that everything returns to.”

 

For us, this means continually seeing how we so humanly reach for habits to shield ourselves from the uncertainty, the unpredictability of the process.

Over and over again, we find ourselves grasping at ways to make life more predictable instead of living in the openness of not knowing–the not-knowing of how the appraisal will go, the not-knowing of how the final loading and moving will go, the not-knowing of how we will find our belonging in a new community and a new land.

Buddhist monk Pema Chodron says it this way:

“We become habituated to reaching for something to ease the edginess of the moment. Thus we become less and less able to reside with even the most fleeting uneasiness or discomfort.” (from Comfortable with Uncertainty, p.55)

Out of well-practiced habit, we reach for certainty!

  • In the pleasure we know we’ll get from the perfect dark chocolate (me) or the perfect ale (Dave);
  • In the safety we feel if we create a false sense of control by over-thinking and over-planning the way we think our move should go,
  • In the comfort of weaving our old stories back together again–I’m just a One who needs a certain level of organization… or I’m just a Six who can’t stand this level of unpredictability… 


When we catch these avoidance strategies, we practice, yet again, “trust[ing] that ground which [we] cannot stand upon–the falling away that everything returns to.”

That doesn’t mean we completely drop all our helpful coping habits–we’re fully human; so, sometimes, yes; sometimes, no…

But we engage them with awareness and less unconscious belief that they provide the ground of certainty.

 

For we know that the true certainty, the true ground
is being able to stand (and move and sit and rest)
with whatever life is bringing–with the unknowing,
with the uncertainty, and with the unpredictablity.

 

Here, in touch with this ground–the ground of being–we find an open, spacious freedom to respond openly and freshly to whatever happens. In each moment, we can choose to return to rest in this. Over and over again.

 

How do you work with uncertainty?

waves welcome me

 

Friend, our closeness is this.
Anywhere you put your foot
Feel me in the firmness under you.
~ Rumi

 

On vacation at Mar de Jade (Mexico) two weeks ago, my morning meditation was being on the beach with the rising tide of waves.

Usually, I was the first one down to walk on the sand, at the intersection of land and sea, contemplating ocean, contemplating waves.

I didn’t do a formal sit. The ocean called me.

I slowly wandered and stood facing the ocean, letting the waves take me. Waves filling up, coming to fullness, to readiness, then spilling over to give, to surrender, to gift the land with their essence, their “waveness.”

Breathing with the waves, taking them in with eyes, heart, body, bodysoul, in awe, in beauty, in wonder.

Touched by the unseen shaping guiding their rhythm and form, a circular flow of rising and forming and breaking and ebbing–a yang giving way to yin–a giving way to giving again. A cycle of giving and receiving, of generativity and rest, of expansion and contraction.

A circle of wholeness, of life.

 

Foreign territory to me, a land-dweller who grew up in the country, far from the ocean.

I felt a deep, interior call to be with her immensity, her power, her being.

Every morning for about an hour, I would join the confluence of land and sea, waiting for the rising tide to come and splash my feet, my legs, my clothes.

One morning, when Dave joined me, he said the waves were greeting me. Yes, I smiled, it feels like this.

I was being welcomed by ocean waves–Good morning, Katy–let me touch and taste and kiss and splash you in greeting. Thank you for being with me.

 

 

I walked and stood in the waves, feeling their wetness, their saltiness, their tickly touch, their caress, and their pull out to sea while my feet were buried in wet sand, holding me on land, and singing my human greeting to them:

Waves, waves, waves, ocean waves, Great Mother’s waves, welcome me.
Touch and be touched, meet and greet, welcome the mystery.
Human and wave, matter and sea, life, love, and me.

 

Back in Minnesota, I’m not barefoot all day, not feeling the touch of waves and sand so immediately.

But I am feeling the touch of this bioregion–the greeting of Spring–in the earlier light kissing my face as I awake, in the scent of wet earth after the melting of snow, in the warming touch of air on my body, in increasing liquid birdsong.

In the firmness of life continuing to hold me and support me here in this precious eairth.*

 

How about you?

How are you greeting and being greeted this season?

 

How do you feel the firmness of life, or what Rumi calls “the Friend,” under your feet, supporting you?

 

 

* earth and air as one being = eairth

nurturing & greeting rituals

Image by SofieZborilova on Pixabay

 

Imagine coming into the presence of a baby. (Or, if it’s easier, a baby animal.)

Eyes round and open, she is awake and alert, expressions flitting across her face.

 

Would you ignore this luminous presence?

 

Or would you take in her precious being with an attuned, loving, perhaps even grateful greeting? Perhaps some sweet words, a higher-pitched, maybe even cooing, voice, a soothing tone…

In so doing, you acknowledge that her presence affects you. That she is here and you are here. That you are connected with her. In a way that feels nourishing and contactful to both of you.

 

What if this were the way we lived our lives?

 

In contact with each other, with the earth, with the other-than-human beings, and with the rhythm of our lives, all the time?

 

What would change?

I know I would feel more open, more grateful, more awake, more alive… more present.

From what I understand, our indigenous ancestors lived in this way—in deep contact with themselves, each other, and the earth—and from this deep experience of kinship, in deep gratitude.

Our Native American brothers and sisters, indigenous to North America, continue to carry this relationship of kinship, of respect and gratitude into our modern times. They remind us of what is possible.

 

As you know, I’m all about practicing presence!

 

It’s my tagline, afterall: “practice presence for life.” And I’ve written a whole e-book about small, doable rituals you can incorporate into your daily life to feel more present AND created a free 5-day Practice Presence for Life Journey to support you in putting this into practice… 

 

But I think there is something else I’m exploring here.

It is what all my presence practice rituals are pointing toward. Like the Buddhist story of the finger pointing to the moon, we don’t want to get fixated on the finger, but to focus our gaze on the moon.

All my presence rituals are meant to support a dropping into this deeper contactful presence.

So, what is presence, anyway?

 

Right now, I am experiencing it as a full-bodied, full-souled contact with myself and “the other.”

And when I feel it, I feel grateful. Presence and gratitude go hand in hand.

Since many of us don’t often get the chance to interact with a baby—human or animal—how about practicing with an alive being you connect with daily?

  • A partner or child
  • A pet or plant
  • Some other being outside—the snow (a good choice this winter in MN!), the sun, the moon, a tree, or a mountain?

 

Find a specific living being—human or otherwise—and let that being teach you how to be fully present. (You might also find some of my other presence practices/rituals help prepare you for this. Poetry is one of my favorites, so here’s one:)

 

Praying by Mary Oliver

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

 

Here are a few suggestions* for getting started:

  • Open all your senses to this being—sight, sound, taste, scent, touch. And keep returning to your senses when your mind sidetracks you back into thoughts. Take this being in as fully as you can.
  • Receive how their presence affects your whole bodysoul—body, heart, mind, soul. You might experience it as pleasant or unpleasant. Continue to drop thought and come back to body and heart, in particular.
  • Make some sound—words or otherwise—to express your experience. It might be joyful or sweet, or you might feel sad or angry or confused. Express whatever it is with sound.
  • Notice how you feel nurtured having greeted this being.
  • Take some time to receive any greeting in return.
  • Then thank the being for this contact that brings you here, in touch with yourself and the living web of relationship all around you. Use words or sounds or movement or gestures and keep coming back to your body and heart.

 

Let’s close with a nurturing and greeting ritual:

Place your hands in prayer position in front of your heart with me.

As we bow our heads to our hearts….

We are bowing to ourselves for practicing.

We are bowing to each other for practicing together.

We are bowing to the earth as the ground of our practice.

Namaste.

 

For More Practices

See my calendar.

Read more practice blogposts.

Download Welcoming the Sacred.

Sign up for the free, 5-day Practice Presence for Life Journey.

 

Notes:
* After writing this, I realized how influenced I was by the recent work I have been practicing. You can find a similar practice in Soulcraft by Bill Plotkin.

I also want to credit the phrase “nurturing and greeting rituals” as originally from Erik Erickson as “daily rituals of nurturance and greeting,” which I found in Dolores LaChapelle’s book Sacred Land, Sacred Sex, Rapture of the Deep. She uses it not only in the realm of humans, but to include all of the natural world. (p. 170+)

Remembering

Remember by Joy Harjo

from She Had Some Horses

Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
are you.
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.
Remember.

 

yes, yes, yes

 

The sky holds our precious nourishment—air that is inspiration.

The moon recently made her mysterious beauty known with the lunar eclipse on January 20th.

The sun accompanies us every day, rebirthing our world—you might try greeting her in the morning and saying farewell at night.

Your mother and father, regardless of all they did and did not do, created you and brought you into this amazing, interconnected, and life-giving planet earth.

 

the earth. the earth. the earth.

 

This whole poem is about the earth.

What is your relationship with the skin that you are?

 

The plants, trees, and animals that live with us and give us life.

Have you talked with them recently?

 

The elements—earth, wind, fire, water—all the elements within you, creating you, living you.

How are you guided by them, birthed by them?

 

“The ageless intercourse between the body and the earth—
this co-evolution—has shaped the tissues and organs
of our very earthly organism…”

~ David Abrams in Becoming Animal, p. 73

 

In our human-animal nature–

We are alive poems.

We are alive patterns.

We are alive eairth* in human form.

 

How are you living this great poem?

 

* “eairth” = the earth and air, the atmosphere of earth, all in one. (Becoming Animal, p. 101)