Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Great Mother Within




Having just returned from camping at Yosemite National Park, I am still feeling the energy of this special place settle into my being.  The waterfalls coming down from the moutaintops have been at their fullest in decades, and there is still much more snow waiting to melt its way down into the valley.

There was a strong sense of both renewal and relief everywhere as we hiked past the Merced River and up the trails to the waterfalls.  Nature was coming alive with a fullness not experienced in quite a while.  As the waters roared in the places where the rocky base of the mountains meet the river, Mother Nature was clearly expressing her power as any mother bringing forth new life must do.

As we approach Mother's Day this weekend, we honor the women who, whether they were ready to or not, stepped into the fierceness of what it means to bring new life into this world.  It takes a courageous heart to offer sustained love and nurturing to another who is not necessarily able to give back in the same capacity. It also takes wisdom to know when to offer nourishment, and when to step back and allow this life to grow into its own uniqueness and power.  

We each have the mother archetype within us, whether or not we've physically given birth.  When we fully embrace self love, self care and self nurturing, it naturally emanates exponentially to those around us.  Who knows for how many generations the mother archetype has been celebrated as self sacrifice until there is nothing left to give.  In actuality, when the authentic power of the mother archetype is fully engaged, we experience a state of self love that is so strong it in turn makes us capable of unconditional love for another.  This is the wisdom that the great mother within longs for us to experience.

Whether you will be spending time with your mother this weekend, missing your mother, estranged from your mother, coming to terms with a challenging relationship with your mother, or enjoying being celebrated as a mother, may your day be full of beauty and graced with the love of the great mother that resides within each of us.

Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Melting Into Our True Nature

Over the past few weeks, in between these final blasts of winter, we’ve enjoyed some beautiful spring weather.  While walking through the park one day, I could feel the thaw taking place both within and without.  My body felt warm, but there was a residual tingle of frostiness felt on my skin.  Small, leftover patches of snow were melting and merging with the soil, offering it much needed moisture to soften and prepare for the grass and flowers to grow. 

These weeks of transition from winter into spring have many ups and downs.  The wind becomes bitter and harsh while the sun grows stronger along with our yearning to spend more time outside.  The weather changes drastically from day to day and even hour to hour as Mother Nature begins her annual birthing process.

It takes tremendous energy and momentum for new growth to take place, and at the same time it takes tremendous surrender.  As the seed pushes its way to sprout and break through the soil, the snow is simultaneously surrendering its frozen form, helping to nourish the earth and support the new plant growth.  In observing this wild time of transition in nature, we too are invited to surrender our frozen ideas and visions on how life should be and embrace what we can’t control as a pathway to new growth in our lives.  Showing up for our self-care activities and practices offers us the space needed to soothe the ego from its fear, worry and anguish over the unpredictable chaos of life, and to cultivate the fertile muddy soil needed for sure and steady growth.  If we allow the ego’s frozen hold over us, which perpetuates our suffering, to gently melt like the snow into the earth, we then empower the part of us that can observe from a place of love and allow for new experiences to blossom in our lives.  While pain and chaos are a part of the human journey, if we allow it to meld with our overall experience of life, it then transforms into the colorful beauty that blossoms as the healing from those experiences takes place. 

Planting our seeds of intention and planning for what we desire are important aspects to manifesting a meaningful and joyful life, as well as co-creating the world we want to see for ourselves and others.  However, when we allow the mind to let go of its preconceived notions on how life “should” be or how others “should” be, we allow the things we can’t control to transform into the nourishment that supports us in living in alignment with our most authentic and true nature.  In turn, just as the soil softens in response to the snow melting, creating the mud needed to support new life, when we release the ego’s grip over us, the world around us begins to soften.  How we experience the journey of life becomes a beautiful gift, even during our moments of doubt and confusion.  We dissolve the labels of who we are or who we think we should be, recognizing that the light and the shadow aspects of ourselves are one, working in tandem to support us.  In turn our whole, healed and most authentic nature can thrive and express itself in beautiful ways within the confines of our human journey.

Monday, January 30, 2017

A Steaming Cup of Self-Worth: Sustaining Our Personal Power

While meditating recently, a beautiful image of a steaming cup of tea came to me.  Breathing deeply into my lower hara center (the place 2-3 finger widths below the navel) I was contemplating the difference between self-worth and self-esteem.   We hear these terms used interchangeably in the world of self-development, but there is a different dynamic around each word.

The practice of Reiki works with three energy centers (the lower, middle and upper hara centers) and the yogic tradition works with seven main energy centers (Chakras 1-7). However, as our healing process and spiritual awakening begin, the lower energy centers (lower hara in Reiki and Chakras 1-3 in yoga) are emphasized.  Just as the tree can only grow as tall as its roots reach into the earth, our own awakening can only go as far as we are anchored into our connection with the earth and our personal power.  So much of our culture emphasizes what is happening in our external world that we often times forget to place value on how we feel about ourselves and our life experiences. Over time this conditioning leads to our personal power getting lost. It is no wonder that as people begin the self-awakening process, they lose interest (and patience) with tabloids and mainstream media.

In working with the Chakras, the lower three anchor us into our bodies so we can fully receive the blessings of life while simultaneously expending our energy to co-create with the universe. Chakra 1 which embodies the element of earth is where our personal energy rests, coiled at the bottom of the spine. Its Sanskrit name is Muladhara which means “root support”. It is where we house our energy and personal power, and own our self-worth. Just as a mountain stands tall and unmoved by what the elements do around it, when we fully own our self-worth, nothing can undermine how we value ourselves. As children, some people experienced their self-worth being worn down because of situations that stirred up fear for their safety. Children are vulnerable because of their need to rely on others to care for them and feel loved. When their sense of safety or feeling loved is threatened, a pattern of compromising their self-worth can develop. Fear is also an emotion associated with Chakra 1. In the system of Reiki, one of the first precepts we reflect on asks us to not worry or, in other words, not allow fear to have power over us. When we step onto a path of self-awakening and healing, the greater the experience of our whole and complete self, also referred to as the Higher Self, the more our self-worth can be expressed with ease in everyday life.

As I reflect on that image of the tea cup in my mind’s eye, I think of the cup itself representing Chakra 1. It is made of material from the earth, and it is the vessel that holds the tea. Chakra 1 holds the space for us to have and experience the blessings of life. The actual tea held within the cup represents the element of water embodied in Chakra 2. Chakra 2 or Svadhisthana, which means “sweetness”, is the energy center where we embrace the pleasures of life such as the indulgent aromas and tastes we find within a delicious cup of tea! Chakra 2 is where we begin to let go and relax into the present moment, taking in all that is good about life with a sense of appreciation. In the practice of Reiki, another precept we reflect on is a statement about gratitude and appreciation.

When we move up into Chakra 3, Manipura, we are connected with the element of fire, the spark of passion that inspires us to be seen in the world. Manipura means “sparkling jewel”. When we heat the water to make tea, we create steam. Chakra 3 is where our self-worth finds its outward expression in the form of self-esteem. It is the energy center where our power is expressed in a healthy way, neither relying on the acceptance of others nor needing to have power over others in order to keep its fires stoked. Without first anchoring self-worth into our being, self-esteem cannot be sustained. Our energy and power dissipate as quickly as they are attained. We are unable to set healthy boundaries, as we compromise our time, energy and money to please others, feel accepted or gain approval.  

The Japanese system of Reiki doesn’t work with the Chakras. However there are energetic and conceptual overlaps between the two systems. In Reiki we have the Joshin Kokyu ho which focuses the breath, and hence the mind, on the lower hara center in order to stay grounded and keep our inner fires stoked. Just as chakras 1-3 work in conjunction, Joshin Kokyu ho keeps us grounded and helps us sustain a balanced flow of energy in the physical, emotional and auric layers of the body.

While breathing deeply into my lower hara center and visualizing this beautiful cup of tea, I could feel the gentle flow of energy moving through each of the chakra centers. There was such a buoyant quality to it that I started laughing. I realized that in many ways, self-esteem is like the frosting on the cake. As our self-worth grows stronger and develops, the sweeter our own life experience becomes and the more inspired we become to share our joy and passion with world in meaningful ways.