candles

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.

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