A Fire In Your Belly: A Mid-Winter Self-Ritual

Snow topped roofs… Quiet…subdued dark blue morning sky…

All is as it should be for February 1st.

Today and tomorrow mark special days on the old calendar called Imbolc or “in the belly”, symbolizing the mark of mid-winter. This morning, I rose early, and lit every candle I had left over that was started last year to cleanse out old fires. Each room has a cheerily flickering light as the sun is now rising.

Our ancestors would have fire as their main source of light, as they spent the long nights of winter in their small homes, huddled together to stay warm. On this morning, I am reminded of how fortunate we are to have space to move about in these cold months. I am not bothered by snow, I find it beautiful and calming.

This morning when I see those covered rooftops from my the window I practice in front of, it makes me feel uplifted to see such beauty. I turn a few oracle cards to begin my new month, what lies ahead I ask?

I begin my yoga practice with warming up with surya namaskara, and decide to focus on balance and hip release this morning. All it takes is 20 minutes for my body to feel its long night of rest melt away into softer muscles and a more relaxed mind.

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I did notice my mind was a bit too busy this morning. It has been with January as busy as it was for myself. I run the checklist through my mind of the month: opening a new space two and a half times larger than my old studio, training  new desk staff, teaching many classes, hosting a large scale grand opening, a soft opening, and moving the old studio into the new studio all in the course of a month. Of course, taking care of family life, groceries, desk work, and so forth, no wonder my mind is a bit wreckless right now.

I decide I need to sit and ground.

I do what I do each Imbolc, a meditation focused on the them of the day, what is “in the belly” for me? It gives me a little insight into what I need to focus in on from now until the Spring Equinox, our next old calendar pivotal date.

With flickering candles, and Pandora radio playing soft ragas, I sit with my breath to see where my mind will take me.

One of the symbols of Imbolc is one of those big cast iron pots you see on Halloween (except they are usually plastic) called a cauldron. They have 3 legs and our ancestors used to cook with them over the fire. I see mine as a pot belly shape to go with our “in the belly” theme. I take a look inside and see it is half full with warm water. I fall in, the water is warm, and I am swimming. It feels good to swim in the warm darkness. I realize though, I cannot just stay here because it feels good. This is typical of me, forge ahead!

I notice the water changes, gets choppy and rough… hmmmm now what do I do?

I take the water, and turn it into a water spout funnel and toss it in the air. It disperses above me into beautiful sparkles like soft fireworks.

Ahhhh, now I am calmer, sitting down now in the bottom of my pot, deciding what is in the belly for me.

You see this in the belly theme is symbolic of this time of year. Spring is happening in the belly of the earth. The first stirrings are happening, but we cannot see them.

The rest of what happens is for me only, but I understand a little better where I may want to invest my time this month. I made sure I reviewed and closed out last month already mentally. My checklist of how I did. What goals did I reach or am on track with. I looked at my journal entries to make sure I am on top of my mental plans.

One of them is to write to you at the end of each month, so we can close our months out together. People who continuously check into their goals will achieve them.

My word of the year is Grace. I chose it because I don’t have a true energetic understanding of the word, but I think it will help me to understand it in my life, career and spiritual practice. It is still foreign to me, but I will continue to check into it to keep myself focused on this theme for 2017.

Today if you can, close out your month, and try a meditation to see what is in the belly for you. Here are some self-ritual ideas for today and tomorrow.

Mid-Winter Self Rituals

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  • Finishing burning any old candles as a symbol of release of the first part of winter
  • Let your intention be surrounding this half of winter, from now until March 21st, and what is in store
  • Let your yoga  practice revolve around warming and belly nourishing practices like twists, surya namaskara, and deep forward bending
  • Enjoy being in the belly of your home, wherever that is, clean the space and enjoy being in it
  • Sit and visualize where your first stirrings of new intentions are at. I like my cauldron visualization, but you could also visualize a fire or hearth, a pot with soil in it, or even inside your own womb area.
  • Enjoy nourishing foods, like soups and stews made of root vegetables and easy to digest grains. Our bodies need simple foods that are easily broken down in our bellies.
  • Yoga postures in my practice today included: Classical Surya Namaskara, Pyramid Pose, Twisted Low Lunge, Tree Pose, Seated Wide Legged Forward Bend, Headstand and Plow Pose.

Enjoy closing out January and transition yourself into a beautiful February.

2016 The Wrap-up! Mindfully Wrapping Up this Year

2016…

Wow, did that go at lightening speed.

I know we all say that, but this year especially flew by.

One thing I did do this year was really pay attention, and tried to be present in my actions. I also did a lot of inner work this year with my intentions and Sankalpa. I think I did more than ever, based on the limited personal time I get with my toddlers and business. I was able to focus more on what was important.

Changes I saw:

  • PATIENCE-my word of the year, has improved greatly
  • Being in the moment, not worrying about the near future
  • Staying on top of my daily task list
  • Knowing what is important and not giving into selfish acts and mindlessness
  • Being a kinder presence in my own my to myself and others, this is a top priority for 2017.

This year I was able to make a huge business decision to expand my yoga studio’s space. A lot of people say it must be crazy and stressful. Actually, 5 years ago, it was when I first opened. This time around, I am staying patient and calm and trying not to be anxious about things.

My biggest goal is balance my work time with home time, and so forth, around a soon busy moving and opening schedule. Each day I start with a 5 top task list and work on those first, then move onto what ever is next.

I have changed my perspective on life a bit. I chose this year to release control, to embrace being OK and self-acceptance, and to really work the 4 agreements: never make assumptions, don’t take it personally, always do your best and be impeccable with your word. (Check out Don Migual Ruiz’s book)

I take self-responsibility to heart for how I live and think in my life, but also now allow that to be the case with others. My biggest sense of “dis-ease” in my life was feeling responsible for everyone and everything, and making sure everyone thought well of me.

Well, that is not my choice to make. Who wants to carry that responsibility around with them of worrying about what others think and do for their own self-care? It helped to set better boundaries for myself and I learned how to say no, with kindness, but with a healthy boundary for myself.

Choosing to spend a lot more time connecting with my little ones was the best choice I made. This summer, I decided more beach days, more outside time, more park time was necessary, or I would wind up just sitting at my desk responding to emails all day. I did a lot to move around my work schedule to try to create more space for my family. It did not hurt my business numbers, and only helped me be a better mother and wife.

What I noticed from all these little tid bits I share? I am calmer, kinder, have more patience, and work more words of kindness. I don’t have as much to complain about. The complaint cycle really only happens when I am with people who complain, but I catch myself and say,  “I think I will just listen with compassion and not join in on that cycle.” I feel better for it, and less weighed down.

Lastly, I really improved my own sacred ritual times. I really had to down size that part of my life when I had infants. This year I was able to find my quiet time at the early hours of morning, or sometimes late at night, and implement my asana practice, meditation, and exercise. It is very important to me to stay strong the older I get. I really do not like feeling unhealthy in my body. I hope to carry this into 2017 even stronger.

Now wrap up your year, sit and make yourself 2 lists if you like, one for closing out your 2016 year, and one for your intentions and hopes for 2017. Keep the list concise and stick with it. Each week, re-visit it, and record your thoughts. The power of intention is the strongest with repetition.

Here is a snippet of my 2017 list:

  • Word of the year: KINDNESS
  • Intentions stem from conscious communication of love, compassion and kindness
  • Body love time with moving prayer, strong asana practice, light weight training and swimming, and more outside movement time.
  • Continue strength of family and devotional family time
  • Create a community awareness in my business and implement some programs to benefit all walks of life
  • Continue to expand my studies in the fields of herbs and aromatherapy
  • Keep my thoughts mindful and aware as much as possible

A Moment to Reflect

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Ask yourself, what did I learn, let go of, and accomplish in 2016?

What do I want my main theme or word of the year for 2017 to be? (Remember, no negative words, this is not a resolution)

Who will support me on my path of inner growth and who can I let go of?

What is my biggest dream of all and what can I start to do this coming year to invoke that dream in my life?

Good luck and happy New Year to you and yours. Enjoy the beauty of the season wherever you are.

 

 

Finding Tranquility Everyday: Closing Out Your Journey

Do you remember why you began this journey with yourself?

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I know why I did. I wanted to feel happy everyday and more consciously aware of my life. It was important to me to set some goals and see them through. Being curious about myself again, and ground myself a little.

Thank you to those to read everyday and for your kind words, I have never done anything like this before, at times it felt vulnerable to have to share so much. It is nice to know you are not alone in what you feel.

As this cycle comes to a close, a new one will begin. I hope you will all continue on with the goals you set for yourselves that made you feel good. Release the things that do not. Love yourself everyday, you deserve that!

Suggestions for closing ritual

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The full moon is tomorrow. I suggest an outdoor closing if you can, or somewhere where you can catch a glimpse of the moon.

  • Have a moment or a day of silence at some point to honor your final period of reflection
  • Have a little sacred body time with a juice cleanse or just eating very clean all day.
  • Do a longer yoga practice in the morning or before bed.
  • Take a nice bath with candles, bath salts, the works, before you close out your 30 days.
  • Close with another body blessing. 
  • Chant a mantra you feel connected to like the Gayatri Mantra, Om Mani Padme Hum or anything that opens the heart for healing. Sway, move and rejoice in the freedom of your own voice.
  • Review your journal entry’s and what you noticed or learned. Make one more entry to close out what you need, and to see what you will continue to work on going forward.
  • Pick an oracle card for a divine message connected to what is in this moment important for you to notice.
  • Sit peacefully as long as you like, until you feel complete.

If you feel you are at a crossroads, continue on. Take the path that is right for you, or meditate on the choices you have. We all have choices on how we choose to live our lives. I know what it is like to be the outsider in how I choose to live and I hope you get the love and acceptance you need. Take your time getting there, as progress may feel slow at times, but true change at the core will take time. Know you are being guided, and that you are never alone.

With love and gratitude to all of you.

Gayatri Mantra

Aum
Bhuh Bhuvah Svah
Tat Savitur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi
Dhiyo Yo nah Prachodayat

“We meditate on the brilliance of our Supreme Being who is our creator, inspirer and source of eternal Joy.  May this warm and loving Light inspire and guide our mind and open our hearts.”

 

 

Finding Tranquility Everyday Day 28: Having Tranquil Fun

What is tranquil fun you ask?

I can tell you what it is to me. A hot day, a cold drink, and hanging out with people you fancy. Today, I got to do that 3 times over!

After all my hard work on myself these last 28 days, I have to say moving into the close of this journey, having fun really never crossed my mind. How silly is that? I thought about my intentions, my yoga practice, my spiritual practice, meditation, cleaning and organizing, gardening, cooking, but fun never once crossed my mind.

Fulfillment did cross my mind and all the many questions that go into that, but fun did not. I guess one more magical ingredient to add to all this. Good ole’ kick in the pants laughter and smiles. It is some of the best medicine for the soul.

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When was the last time you had fun? Like a smile was glued to your face?

When was the last time to surrendered to a desire that would improve your life, not hinder it?

When did you take the option of releasing stress and to-do’s for something you really wanted to do?

Some of us are better at this than others. No matter what, it is OK, but don’t forget to make it a part of your bucket list like me. I really like having fun with my kids, and seeing them have fun, but as a parent, it is hard to relax into the fun when you have so much responsibility to take care of someone too.

So where is the tranquil fun?

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For me, less responsibility in that moment, and more relaxation. Just being able to enjoy the moment, but knowing everyone else is too in their own way. Sharing moments with people I love and trust. Knowing I can be myself in those moments. Understanding I am safe and secure, and all is well.

I would say tranquil fun is being at ease with myself, and enjoying the moment, not wanting to be anywhere else.

Give yourself permission now to schedule something you know will be fun and laid back in these last four days. Close this out on a high note, and focus on your successes and happiness. I wish you all the happiness in the world and more!