Does Menopause Cause Enlightenment?

Originally Posted in 2010 at the Energetic Connection

The Voice

Being a spiritually oriented middle aged woman, I have a special interest in enlightenment as it pertains to my own gender, especially those in the various stages of menopause. About two years ago I began a book project, interviewing friends, and family, and even a few who answered my ads in the local newspaper on this topic. I found that my questions were too benign in some ways and had to prod a bit to get the real information.

So, I started going around confronting every woman I met with a somewhat surprising statement (you’ll know soon what that is) which invited a variety of responses and frequently, reactions. My friends went into resistance, people I didn’t know were uncomfortable and even horrified. One of my friends went home pouting one night!

In the upcoming months, I sincerely want to provoke more women, to encourage them to speak out, offering them a way to share their wisdom with a greater community. Sometimes it takes a wild notion to stimulate that level of spontaneity and purity of emotion and, while my book is still in the research stages, you will find the results of the interviews and stories each month on these pages.

Self-Inquiry
Will you self-reflect as many others did upon hearing this statement? Before we get to the other’s comments, take a moment to breathe and feel your own response to this statement. Notice where you sense it most; is it physical, mental, emotional? Where do you feel it in your body? What is the first thing you want to say? What thoughts does it elicit? Beware though, it is designed to provoke you in some way.

Middle aged women are poised and ready to become truly enlightened, more than anyone else on this planet, especially if they refrain from having sex.

After you sit with this for a while, consider the following ideas; they are my ideas, and you may see them as irrelevant, or, you might just agree with me. I invite you to interact with the information and send a response if you are so inclined…that’s the nature of this blog…to inspire, to provoke, to charge you up and even amuse you.

Ponder This
Okay. Let’s say that all humans are imprinted with ascension information; it’s in the DNA. The interesting part of this idea is that it’s often more easily accessed by middle aged women. Why? Well, because we are no longer compelled to procreate; we have pretty much already embraced our power, established ourselves in either a family unit, career and business, or all of the above. Simply put, we have more time and desire to explore our inner world, creating many possibilities and opportunities to grow. Historically, women are the guides for other women and men as well. In addition, no earlier modern generation en mass has had the combined physical stamina, emotional balance and presence, mental openness, spiritual intelligence and connection, as middle aged women do right now. Many cultures identify women in this cycle of life as crones: wise old women who are moving toward the end years. Now, we women are still physically vital, coupled with wisdom–years of experience, and can easily embrace who we are in the world. Simply put, we are vibrant Priestesses and Queens.

We are most likely part of a strong support network of conscientious women who are not only devoted to spiritual practices, we are also focused on embodying the information and enhancing practical consciousness along with spirituality.

In other words, we are in a constant state of developing our awareness as spirits in the body as opposed to being distanced or distracted from this very important part of ourselves. We very consciously set our endpoint intentions to create spiritual freedom in this lifetime, in our bodies, here on this planet.

Responses & Reactions
Back to the question and answers. What do you think? Are women poised for ascendancy and enlightenment more than anyone else on this planet? By the way, the original statement came from a male entity who wholly supports women moving in the direction of complete self-realization and actualization.

“C” from NM says: “Oh for God’s sake, I just came out of a 20 year sexual drought and there is no way I’m going to stop now just to attain enlightenment! I can’t believe anyone would agree with that, in all seriousness.”

“L” from England says: “This depends a great deal on the mental state of the individual…which depends a great deal on the early relationships with significant others–mothers…later on peers; a balance of positive and pleasant vs. negative and unpleasant experience should allow the individual to have a balanced view on life and relationship and therefore to possibly become enlightened and to recognize it.”

“L” from CA says: “More than elephants!? Okay seriously…I feel that anyone over the age of 40 has a better chance of becoming enlightened than someone under 40. It seems to me that the focus shifts from the completely me-centered universe to the bigger world around that age. I believe that if we choose to be humble about spiritual growth, we will come to know more and more, with each passing year, that we know NOTHING at all, really, so that by the time we reach old age, we will be completely open, completely humble, completely amused and maybe a little bit wise.”

“G” from NM says: “Live and learn. With age comes a certain wisdom, sensitivity, etc. That is easier to access as an older woman.”

“S” from NM says: “Well, I haven’t had sex in over a decade and I can live without it. I am not in least bit interested in sex right now and my inner work has flourished, as have my female friendships. For me, enlightenment and consciousness comes from my heart and it feels as though my heart is opening more and more as the years without sex go by…I’m looking for a relationship with heartfelt friendship first, then maybe the sex will follow….so I strongly resonate with the statement and could probably live without sex the rest of my life.

“K” from CA says: “It’s possibly true, only in that women in that stage of their lives are either free or becoming free of a lot of life’s constrictions…mostly to do with time and obligations. We also start looking at the time we have left on this earth as finite, so questions about why were are here in this life become more meaningful.”

“N” from NM says: “Oh, do I have to go the rest of my life without sex if I want to be enlightened?”

“M” from NM says: Even though that could give me a one up, I don’t think it’s true. Traveling has shown me an incredible range of surprising people making changes and growing out of places I would have never thought. However, we women over 50 are experiencing something revolutionary in that we’re living an unprecedented length of time after raising our children, not living conventional lives, in record numbers. And, we are in better health! This in itself is changing not only the demographics of society, but the way we will think of ourselves, aging, self-value and values, political constituency, the world etc. I wonder that the sheer numbers of us might bring a greater consciousness…so maybe I’ve talked myself into a possible agreement!”

“Y” from CA says: “This is a little difficult for me, but I do believe that maturity in years and experiences in life allow one to come to a place where these things seem to become more clear. This has been a time when I can more confidently evaluate and decide about spiritual matters for myself and not look to others for “truth.” I continually find truths that well up from within me. This a far cry from my days of organized religion telling me what is or is not.”

How do you feel?

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Yin-Yang Oneness

Originally Posted in 2010 at the Energetic Connection

Matriarchy Pushing Patriarchy

My own pushing of the matriarchy came from a whole lot of Yang energy I used for survival in the world over the years. Too much Yang, moved me toward my subconscious need for Yin and the ultimate level of female companionship and working through feminime archetypes in myself and my friends. Being single for over a decade has added to this Yin experience and now I am looking for balance.

In the context of menopause, I believe it will assist me in alleviating symptoms of menopause and becoming more balanced hormonally. female creative energy knows what it’s made of without input from me…knows it’s cycles…back to the original question or statement: women in middle age are more likely to become enlightened than any other…because we are no longer making babies, being mothers or looking desperately for sexual contact, we can use our female energies to balance and become more aware of both our masculine and feminine energy channels. Like the high priestess, we become more androgynous…we are more of service, more alert, conscious and free…our attachments and our desires are fewer, different. The more free we are the more conscious we are; the more conscious we are, the more free. It’s all about awareness.

I’m currently involved in three different women’s groups: 1) a group in which I’m learning about being a Priestess; 2) a facilitated Shamanistic Journey group; and 3) a gathering of women who participate equally in seasonal ceremony based in the Celtic Wheel of the year. Each group is different, yet similar in that we want to honor the Divine Feminine. Early on with all of these groups, I began to realize we are not only cultivating our femaleness in sisterhood, we are also cultivating our maleness, becoming more aware of the qualities that create balance in our being-ness. We are not separating ourselves from men and maleness, we are learning to embrace our animas while studying feminine archetypes.

With this realization, I learned too that there is a difference between male and masculine; female and feminine…I offer no explanations! For purposes of our discussion and blog, male and female pertain to the biological, more specifically the physiological, parts that delineate male bodies from female bodies. Masculine and feminine are concepts or energies that pertain to a worldly, in fact Universal, balance of what is naturally present in all things.

In Chinese medicine, too much Yin, or feminine Moon, creates Yang, or masculine Sun, and too much Yang creates Yin. Some 27-30,000 years ago they say our world was ruled by the Matriarchy. I don’t know anyone personally who remembers what this was like at the time, yet I’ve heard many tales of how we evolved into a Patriarchy over the last 30 millennia. Even though some of us might be more comfortable in one realm or the other, neither a singularly matriarchal nor patriarchal society offers us any balance in or resolve to the oppositional world in which we now live.

We can all hang out in groups complaining about the opposite sex. Women can nag and try to control men; men can lust after and control women, both resisting the other, playing their evolutionary roles until the Earth stops spinning on its axis. Yes, even in this so-called conscious and politically correct stage of human growth, we still hold these programs in our cells, however covertly. Both sides are push the other.

Remember, Yin pushes Yang and vice versa.

Inside this paradox, we will never know an equalizing of the scales, instead experiencing a spinning of our wheels throughout eternity. Until each gender and every precedential or subsequent and related element honors their opposite, in fact until we recognize we are all both masculine and feminine, we will continue to slog around in the sea, rocking side to side, going nowhere because there is no wind in our sails.

Universal Law

Universal Law suggests there are really just two principles in existence which are, ultimately, the dichotomy of one principle: the Law of Oneness. Here are the Universal laws in simple form:

  1. Oneness: everything is connected and made of two different parts (like the Yin-Yang symbol).
  2. Correspondence: as above, so below; as within, so without
  3. Gender: everything has male (Yang) and female (Yin) properties
  4. Polarity: everything exists on a continuum and has equal and opposite forces
  5. Cause & Effect: every action has a reaction or consequence
  6. Attraction: like attracts like
  7. Vibration: everything has a frequency which resonates in the form of atomic structure
  8. Growth: reflection; higher vibrations transform lower vibrations ensuring the existence of both
  9. Abundance: receptivity and gifting
  10. Rhythm: everything vibrates to a larger and greater cycle
  11. Manifestation: action that supports co-creativity; inner and outer world match
  12. Relativity: everything is relative or related, noting exists in itself

When you look closely, you might see that each one of these laws is a hologram of Oneness, a fractal containing all the aspects of each one of these universal principles.

If we are balanced and responsible Females, we have both masculine and feminine energies operating inside us. In any given moment, we may utilize or call on more of the feminine properties, yet contain a balance of both. I’m sure you have experienced both parts separately in any given day or situation, yet are you aware of how it feels to be balanced, with equal masculine and equal feminine operating?

Last month we practiced two exercises: Fire & Water, and the Microcosmic Orbit. Both used the Female Creative Energy stored in our lower cauldron–ovaries or female anatomy. We cultivated our biological female energy using it to move masculine (Fire) and feminine (Water) elements through our bodies, meridian channels and chakras. I wonder if you felt more balanced, more able to sustain yourself in present time or if anything changed physiologically, please let me know!

Here’s another way to practice with Female Creative Energy and become more aware of how the masculine and feminine exist in tandem, how they blend, helping each to translate two parts into one, and create rhythm in your physical and energetic forms.

Balancing the Energies of Fire & Water, Sun & Moon:

Begin by sitting in a comfortable upright position, breathing in and out. Notice your spine, allowing the breath to move up and down deep inside your body along the spine as you gently inhale and exhale. This is Shushumna, the central channel which houses the chakras, endocrine glands and the nerve plexi. Notice how you feel as you become more aware of the central channel. Let your breath clear away any dross that has accumulated in the spinal area, energetic or physiological.

Bring your attention to your midbrain, into the Center of your Head. Keeping your eyes closed, watch as the breath moves through Shushumna from the pelvis to the midbrain. This is the River.

As you watch the currents of the breath in the River, notice two streams alongside the River. As the breath comes from the pelvis up the River into the Center of your Head, allow it to move back down to your pelvis via the streams. They are Ida and Pingala, Masculine and Feminine, Sun and Moon, Fire and Water. Physiologically they are the autonomic nervous system, sympathetic and parasympathetic.

Coming from different sides of the midbrain, each of these autonomic nerves carries information to the body. Sympathetic information is related to the stress response and hot masculine energies. Parasympathetic information is related to rest and relaxation, the cool feminine energies.

The left stream is the Feminine and connects to the right side of the mid-brain; the right stream is Masculine and connects to the left side of the mid-brain.

Continue inhaling up the River Shushumna and down the two Streams, Ida and Pingala. As they exit the sixth chakra (mid-brain or center of your head), they begin to spiral down through the spine and around each chakra until they meet again with Shushumna at the second chakra (navel & sacrum). Watch, or sense in some way, this flow and balance of energies moving though each chakra. Notice how you feel.

Practice this each day, noticing and even writing about your experiences. You may be most comfortable running only female energies right now, after all, there’s a lot of healing to be done in this vein. If you, like many other women, have pushed your Yin over the last several years or lifetimes, you might need to acknowledge the Divine Feminine, it’s power and archetypes in your life before merging the two energies. That’s great and eventually you will find the sweet spot and fluidity of masculine and feminine balance inside yourself.

Although I am currently in a state of similar growth, my ultimate intention is to balance the masculine and feminine inside myself to create balance in my little world and ultimately reaching out further and further, a step at a time.

Creative Energy

Originally Posted in 2010 at the Energetic Connection

Female Creative Energy                                            

“Courage in women is oftentimes mistaken for insanity,” a quote taken from the movie, “Iron- Jawed Maidens.”

When we were younger, this courage may have looked much different to each one of us. Whatever it was then, we are embracing something ever more extraordinary now, although hidden deeply and subtlety within us. During menopause we might occasionally find ourselves believing we are insane, especially as the heat rises, our emotions escalate and we feel truly incapacitated by this energy propelling us out of control! It may take a moment or an hour to regroup and remember that we are actually very courageous–enough to embrace, however consciously or subconsciously, a spiritual healing and rebirth through our physical forms during this part of our womanly life cycle. Sometimes our spiritual healings come to light through interesting thoughts or ideas, sometimes through unexplored emotions or through new and very physical demands on our bodies. However they appear, they are often misunderstood, even by we who give birth to them.

With that said, a few months ago, I went out on a limb with a statement, ” Middle aged women are poised and ready to become truly enlightened, more than anyone else on this planet, especially if they refrain from having sex.” It was something I heard that originated from a well-known spiritual teacher. Based on some of your reactions, it was a much more courageous statement than I’d initially imagined! I’d like to expand on that thought, bringing the concept of non-sexual spirituality into a more balanced and even palatable framework.

Background & Theory

Here’s something I learned about energy while studying Taoism: we have three types of Chi available to the human body: 1) the life force with which we are born; 2) that which we accumulate from food and breathing the air around us; and 3) the energy we call-in from the Cosmos through our practices of breathing, meditation and other methods of concentrated focus. What follows is my interpretation of what I’ve learned.

Mantak Chia brought his Taoist ideas to the West over 20 years ago in books about cultivating sexual or creative energies through precisely this type of concentrated focus and practice. Little did most people know then was the fact that sexual activity, although a big part of our culture and central to Chia’s theme in the books, was only a small part of his message.

In fact, sexual and primordial energies are considered the same in the practice of the one- thousand-year-old technique called the Microcosmic Orbit. It has links to traditional Yoga and has woven threads into and birthed practices in modern day modalities as well: Reiki, the Violet Flame Meditation and Breath, Kundalini practices, Running energy from Berkeley Psychic Institute and more.

“Human life begins with the union of an egg and a sperm cell…this is the original act of Kung Fu in the balancing of Yin and Yang,” says Chia who also states that sexual energy can be transmuted into spiritual transformation, especially for women. Instead of growing a fetus in the womb, this energy in non-reproductive women “mounts to higher energy centers inside the body and we give birth to ourselves on a spiritual level. This sexual, (creative) energy is drawn up with the Microcosmic Orbit where it literally gives rebirth and brings the confidence of controlling a powerful flow of creative energy as well as the satisfaction of a deep sense and higher balance of harmony with the world.”

According to Chia, this same energy can be cultivated and brought up during sexual orgasm, non-sexual breathing practices and visualization. The common thread: drawing the stored ovarian energies up the spinal column into the brain. Even though there are many other types of organ-related Chi, sexual energy is considered more versatile, easily digested, and can be transformed into many other functions.

In addition to its obvious benefits for hormonal balance and lovemaking, “the effects of the Microcosmic Orbit extend beyond facilitating the flow of sexual energy and include age prevention and the healing of many illnesses.”

The Microcosmic Orbit facilitates energy flows through the Governing (yang/male/fire) and Conception (yin/female/water) meridian channels, up the back from the tailbone area, over the head to the mouth and up the front of the body from the perineum area to the tongue. This circuit of healing energy which facilitates the elemental movement of Water Up, Fire Down, is complete when the tongue touches the hard palate behind the upper teeth.

Ilchi Lee’s Taoist teachings demonstrate the similarities: “The Governing meridian originates in the pelvic cavity and runs up through the spine, over the head to the middle of the upper lip. It promotes circulation and is the pathway through which the water energy of the kidneys rises. A healthy Governing meridian helps to cool and clear the head.

The Conception meridian passes through the neck and chest, connecting to the lower abdomen. When dysfunctional, the Conception meridian can cause stiffness in the lower abdomen resulting in many issues of the organs there. The heat from the heart travels down to the digestive organs through the Conception meridian. Blockages here can cause heat to rise into the head.”

Transformational Practice

Even if menopausal symptoms are not an issue for you, the practices below will help you balance your multi-layered human system: meridian channels; chakras; spiritual, mental and emotional, as well as physiological levels; digestive, endocrine, nervous, circulatory and lymphatic systems; and more. The chart below defines general health based on the Water Up, Fire Down principle, taken from “Human Technology,” also by Ilchi Lee.

“Su-seung-hwa-gang in Korean means “Water Up, Fire Down.” This is a core principle for human health. When the body is in balance, the cool water energy travels upward toward the head along the back side of the body, while the hot fire energy flows down the front side of the body to the lower abdomen. This is the complete cycle of energy circulation. By repeating this circulation, life maintains its balance and continuity. ”

 

WATER UP, FIRE DOWN(Healthy State) FIRE UP, WATER DOWN(Unhealthy State)
Circulation, dynamic, liveliness Disconnection, static, lifelessness
Sweet, saliva in the mouth Dry mouth, bitter taste
Warm hands and feet Cold hands and feet
Cool and refreshed head Heat and pain in the head
Warm abdomen filled with energy Abdomen lacks warmth and energy
Regular bowel movements Constipation, digestive problems
One feels refreshed and energized One feels tired and uncomfortable

Although these channels exist without human intention, and the natural movement of the elements within them takes place without the mind, the body isn’t always in balance. Self-observation on any level is simply an act of awareness and awareness promotes health in many ways. One of the ways we can generate more Chi in the body, as mentioned before, is with a concentrated focus on the breath. We can create better health with a conscious practice of breathing and visualizing Water Up, Fire Down.

Abdominal Breathing stimulates warmth in the digestive organs and kidneys which in turn activates the water element, enhancing the natural flow of Water Up, Fire Down. Lie down on your back or sit upright in a comfortable position, place your hands on your lower abdomen; begin to breathe consciously and deeply into your belly, allowing the muscles to expand and contract. Visualize the breath flowing in and out through a gateway in the back of your spine just behind the navel. Your abdomen is filled and expands as the breath moves in and empties or contracts as you breathe out.

Transform sexual energy into creative Chi energy by Breathing into and focusing on the Ovaries. Begin by breathing into your ovaries, placing palms over your lower abdominal and ovarian areas, feeling the warmth created with the breath. Next, visualize an oval shape that connects the two ovaries and the cervix, completely encircling the uterus as well. Feel the energy moving through and circulating around the “Oval” shape. Ground the cervix at the First Chakra and into the center of the Earth, allowing anything foreign to release down this grounding connection. It will be transmuted by the Earth’s energy. Let the creative energy swirl around in the oval, pumping the perineum gently. Feel the energy created in the “Oval” moving up through the spine into the center of your head. Here it swirls around both clockwise and counterclockwise, eventually returning back down to the “Oval.” You can try stopping it along the way at the various chakras allowing it to swirl around there as well; do this both on the way up to collect energy and the way down to re-fill the space with a higher vibration. Now try the exercise again with your tongue touching the roof of your mouth behind your top teeth.

Experience Chi flow with the Microcosmic Orbit. Sit in a comfortable, meditative posture and visualize just the channel at first. It begins in the tongue and cycles down the front of the body through your throat, chest and navel and then up the tailbone through the spine into your head. Next, feel or see the energy of water moving up your back channels and the energy of fire moving down away from your head into your digestive organs. Sit with this and just notice your experience; you might even record it daily for a week or more. If you do have a sexual relationship, try it and learn about it while making love; just notice what is created!

Later try practicing the Microcosmic Orbit with your tongue on the roof of your mouth behind the top teeth, and do the “Oval” simultaneously! Each one of these exercises can potentially decrease stress levels and is capable of creating more balance and natural rhythm in your life.

Have fun with all this. Whether or not you have an active and regular sex life, you can cultivate spiritually transformative energies by being conscious about your breath, visualizing the channels through which it moves, and knowing it is simply, and yet magnificently, Chi in there! Remember too, sexual energy is primordial energy which is creative energy and is cultivated in the ovaries.

We are incredible self-sustaining and ever-evolving human forms.

Hot Facts & Remedies

This was originally posted in 2010 at the Energetic Connection

Just the Facts

Heat and energy surges are the most common symptoms identified by menopausal women–75% of those surveyed have hot flashes or heat-related issues. They are all willing to share their solutions and ideas, yet continue to look for reasons and additional remedies. Maybe you have a good one to share…let us know. It appears to be a time of great surrender, as the hot flashes are oftentimes considered uncontrollable, intense, electrical surges of overwhelming heat.

Women who are taking bio-identical hormones or are participating in traditional HRT methods continue to experience the same sensation of heat (it often strikes at night in bed, abruptly awakening them) rushing up from the mid and lower body sections into the head. Some of the practical solutions to this heat include remote control fans; raw and cooling foods; decrease or elimination of sugary foods, especially before bed; and anything that channels the energy down into the lower body, among others.

Most women are ‘toughing it out’ while looking for the deeper meaning or reason for this incredible heat to establish a positive ground of being for something that affects their lives up to 30 times a day in some cases. All participants (100%) stated interest in and practice of consciousness raising exercises and information.

Remedies and Responses

“S” from Santa Fe, NM: What has proven helpful to me (in curbing hot flashes): 1) sufficient amounts of water; 2) minimize carbs, especially refined sugar; 3) bio-identical hormones; 4) very small of these products from cow—meat, cheese, butter; 5) Yoga; 6) meditation and energy/breathing techniques. The only symptom that still remains and occurs very seldom is the exact same one that you described– heat-like surges that feel very nervous system oriented and are very uncomfortable physically and emotionally…like anxious, angry, irritating, nervy surges.”

“L” from Glastonbury, England: “Yes, I believe it (consciousness and enlightenment) is a gift.”

“J” from Albuquerque, NM: “You mean enough heat to light up NYC?” “I I feel my guides are waking me up to show me things. so you could call that re-wiring.

“K” from Santa Cruz, CA: “The funniest experience I had was my very first “hot flash.” I was at a Halloween party and was dressed as the Statue of Liberty. It was crowded and I sat on the front porch to get a breath of air…(when it happened) I became immediately drenched from my head to my toes. I looked at my husband and loudly exclaimed, “I’m having a hot flash!” Since I had been looking forward to starting menopause, I was very happy and it was quite ‘liberating.'”

“S” from Santa Fe, NM: What has proven helpful to me: 1) sufficient amounts of water; 2) minimize carbs, especially refined sugar; 3) bio-identical hormones; 4) very small of these products from cow—meat, cheese, butter; 5) Yoga; 6) meditation and energy/breathing techniques. The only symptom that still remains and occurs very seldom is the exact same one that you described– heat-like surges that feel very nervous system oriented and are very uncomfortable physically and emotionally…like anxious, angry, irritating, nervy surges.”

“S” from Carson City, NV: “Make sure you have a remote control for your ceiling fan over your bed.” I ‘m pretty good at rolling over, clicking it on and then clicking it off without waking up too much!”

“L” from Santa Barbara, CA: “I still have trouble sleeping; simple things like all organic bedding, a good mattress and fresh air seem really helpful, but as you know my favorite is Pilates!”

“N” from Nova Scotia, Canada: “My intuition is getting better. The quiet voice that says ‘do this or that’ in the form of a thought was likely always there, but now it is dawning on me that it is vital, (so) I listen to it. In the past I would have brushed it aside. Now I give it credence. I believe this is because my priorities have shifted; I’m less invested in the outcome of things and care more about being in flow, in process. I am not stuck on controlling the outcome of a situation, so when the voice pipes up, I am open enough to listen.

”K” from Santa Fe, NM: ”I believe that yoga has helped me mentally–probably has kept my mind sharper during menopause while helping soothe chronic pain from old injuries and old body image problems. I plan to keep at yoga, and be a powerful yogini by the time I’m 70!”

“L” from Seattle: “My surges are subsiding, but they still surprise me at times.  Here are some things I’ve done to increase my comfort: 1) avoid that dessert at a late meal – any sugar can make me really run hot and make for a fitful sleep; 2) layers in bedding so I can adjust my covers to my comfort at night, and the same approach to clothing, can help me gracefully handle a physical response to my surges; 3) there is no avoiding stressful situations, such as public speaking or the occasional embarrassing moment.  You are right that deep breathing to calm the nerves really helps in these situations!

“K” from Saratoga Springs, NY: “Absolutely! (When I am) thinking of an uncommon word, I hear it on the radio or television… thinking of a person for the first time in months, I get a call…”

“M” from Carmel, CA and Santa Fe, NM: “Hot flashes were the first symptom. First thing I did was cut out all dairy, wheat and especially sugar (I don’t drink coffee, but if I  did, I would have stopped that too).  The hot flashes went away as  long as I remained on this “diet.” Whenever I went off, they  returned.  So, the next step was trying homeopathic drops custom made  from a saliva sample.  It worked so well, that after about a year, I  forgot to take them for 4 days and NO symptoms at all! I never took  the drops again, and as long as I reduce my intake of those foods, I don’t get any symptoms.  At this time, I didn’t need to entirely eliminate the foods, just cut down on them.”

The Heat in My Life

When I first had hot flashes they were sweet, warm, cozy and inspiring little surges of energy running up my spine flushing my heart, chest, shoulders, neck and head. It was Winter time and I welcomed their presence. I loved these moments that started one January, about eight years ago, lasting only a month each time they visited. They were accompanied by amenorrhea each time they cycled through in consecutive months each year (i.e. year one: January; year two: February, etc.). There were six visits in all. Finally in 2006 the symptoms appeared in the heat of the Summer and lasted 4 months. They were no longer the sweet little surges, instead becoming angry, hot, unmanageable emotional waves of dizzying electrical energy. I didn’t sleep that entire Summer, nor did I go out in public much because I was always so incredibly pissed off…I was jumping out of my very sensitive skin!

One of my teeth zinged in agony to the degree I had it pulled to ease the stress of such incredible pain (as opposed to a root canal). By December I was a total wreck and decided to change my diet completely because the hot, spicy food I was eating made things much worse. Sugar–desserts and in the form of fruit, even bread and crackers–triggered hot flashes for me. I was lucky though; these were not the sweaty versions of heat I’ve heard many women experience. In addition, I began using liver support herbs and slowly eliminated animal products from my food plan as well, eventually turning to a raw vegan lifestyle in the Summer of 2008. It’s been a year now since I’ve had anything but raw-vegan foods, and it honestly changed my life in many ways above and beyond hot flash control.

In Summer 2007 I enrolled in a yoga class that focused on meridian balancing and grounding of the subtle energies. At the time, this physical practice saved me! My head and neck relaxed, I felt as though the rogue energies were in fact grounded and the overwhelming heat pretty much disappeared. Those hot flashes were then few and far between. I experienced heat rising only once or twice daily compared with one or more an hour the summer before.

More recently, Restorative Yoga is one of the remedies I’ve found really useful for both menopausal symptoms and life tools in general. It not only relaxes my mind, it works on a much deeper level with the autonomic (sympathetic and parasympathetic) nervous system by decreasing the (reactive) stress response and increasing the (response-able) rest response. This part of our nervous system correlates with the energies of Moon and Sun, Yin and Yang, hot and cold, right and left, male and female.. The blasts of heat in hot flashes are very male oriented, and just happen to come from the Sun side of the energetic equivalent to our sympathetic (active, male, stress response) nervous system.

I’ve since tried to go back to a more active (male) Yoga practice without much immediate benefit as this tends to trigger heat in my meridians and emotional angst. This may not be true for everyone, yet for me, I’m hooked on Restorative Yoga right now! I also practice several exercises from the meridian balancing yoga each day as well. Here’s a sampling which may help you too.

Try These

Toe Tapping: (Something from Dahn Yoga) Lie on your back in a comfortable position: prop up your head a little with a low blanket or pillow and under your lower thighs and knees if you want to relax even further, and especially to protect your low back. Feet are a few inches apart. Keeping your ankles relatively still, begin tapping your big toes together. Breath naturally and keep tapping. See if you can make the movement happen from the hip joints. Try to tap at least 100 times. When you are finished, feel the energy in your feet, legs and lower body. Just relax and breath. I do 500-1,000 toe taps each night before I turn out the lights to sleep. Once, during a workshop, I did toe taps for 30 minute straight! Wow, did it channel the energy in a very positive and healing way!

Cooling Breath: (From traditional yoga) Relax in that same comfortable position on your back. Begin by breathing naturally for a few rounds. Now, curl your tongue, making a tube through which the air funnels into your mouth. Breathe in through the tongue roll and out through your nose. Feel the cool air coming in to cool your brain. Feel the hot air going out through your nose and out of your head. Repeat this about 12 times any time of day or night. It’s especially good for anyone who has a hot head…like me!

Su-Seung-Hwa-Gang: Water Up, Fire Down (from Dahn Yoga). Breathe in, visualizing cool water moving up your spine into your head. Breathe out, visualizing hot Fire moving down away from your head into your abdomen, storing it for digestion. The abdomen (2nd & 3rd Chakras) is both a storage center and an energy generator. Don’t force it, just visualize the energy cycling in this way, allowing it to work naturally. This exercise is based on Taoist philosophy and relates to our most healthy states of being, physically, mentally, emotionally. It’s origins are in the rhythms of nature. Sun shines down onto the plants, and water is taken up through the roots from various sources.

Philosophically Speaking

In the next Fuel for the Fire blog I will further address the question posed last issue: “Middle aged women are poised and ready to become truly enlightened, more than anyone else on this planet, especially if they refrain from having sex.” I’d like to share some ideas about the origins of that statement and what it means to me as well as many others with whom I’ve spoken.

Here is a little peak at what’s to come: This comment is not really about celibacy or stopping sexual relations on any level, although that certainly could be the case if that is your choice. It’s more about the physical and energetic intentions and existence of our inner ability to cultivate and channel female sexual energy, using it to fuel our own creativity, our ability to manifest in this world and to nourish our bodies (meaning as always, mental, emotional and physical) so we are more open and connected to spirit.

The awareness and channeling of female creative energies will also help you with your menopausal symptoms, especially heat. While the medical world can certainly belittle these physical experiences we have during this major life transition, giving us the brush off or a drug of some sort,  we know there is something special about this energy and what we feel is actually a spiritual experience. Whether you see it as kundalini rising, meridian energy balancing, spiritual healing or some other related energetic phenomenon, we are watching our cells rapidly transform before us.

If you are interested in taking a look for yourselves and commenting for the next blog, there are two books I recommend: “The Magdalene Manuscript,” by Tom Kenyon and Judi Sion; “Healing Love through the Tao: Cultivating Female Sexual Energy,” by Mantak Chia.

Intrinsic Body Balance

This was first posted in 2012 as a Newsletter Sidebar to ElementalsLinks here may have been disconnected. If you’d like more information about the courses, programs and audios, please email us and we’ll be happy to fill you in!

The Autonomic Nervous System

We begin here with a some basic anatomy: both spiritual and physiological, as well as few simple audios to boost your practice, assisting your stress reduction and management.

One of the keys to integrating body and spirit lies in our autonomic nervous system. This is part of our body-spirit communication. Here are some nuts and bolts of this very important biological communication system and its energetic counterparts.

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is broken into two parts: the sympathetic branch which triggers the fight or flight impulse and mobilizes resources to act under stress; and the parasympathetic branch which activates our natural capacity for relaxation, digestion, regulation of internal organs and anything that happens while the body is at rest.

Since the human body is equipped with two facets of the ANS, we utilize both in concert with one another, and need both to survive. In energetic terms, the ANS mirrors our masculine and feminine lines of connection between the upper and lower dantiens (Taoist term for primary energy centers), the root and navel with the brow chakras. These two facets are also represented in Hermes’ staff of Aesclepion entwined by two serpents.

The image of the autonomic nervous system comes from Wikipedia.

In yogic terms, these lines are called nadis, which are energetic rivers or channels through which subtle body energies flow. There are three main channels: Sushumna is the central channel and is reflected physically in the central nervous system; Ida and Pingala relate to the ANS, masculine and feminine energies. Feminine energy is lunar, cool, blue, receptive, shadowy and is associated with Ida; while Pingala, the masculine energy, is hot, red or white, light, active, and solar.

In Taoism, these same two lines are commonly known as Yin and Yang, along with all minor meridian channels designated as rivers of Yin or Yang. The corresponding elements in western medical science and anatomical drawings identify anything blue (nerves,veins) as afferent or inward, leading into the center; anything red (arteries, nerves) is efferent or outward, moving away from center to create an effect.

This image of Ida & Pingala originates at the Power of Kundalini.

In our bodies, afference and efference happen simultaneously as an integral, possibly crucial, piece of our body’s rhythms. Blood moves toward the heart and away from the heart; nerve impulses run toward the central nervous system and into the extremities; we operate in a constant active and receptive dance throughout our day. Everything is set up for perfect cyclical rhythms.

Until, of course we become stressed and then it all shifts.What actually triggers the systemic changeover into stress is often unconscious, though we know that the imbalance creates even more stress across the board.

If we were in a constant state of efference, our heart would not receive blood; our extremities would swell up, eventually depleting our life blood and energy, creating secondary stress and a state of greatly diminished life force. This is seen physiologically through adrenal burnout as well; emotionally and mentally through misinterpretation, mental and emotional disorders, brain chemistry imbalance and depletion of our essential minerals and brain food reserves.

Again, it’s a cycle, and because the body always seeks stasis, any form of disruption in our natural rhythms leads to excessive cycling and more stress. We can change our chemistry, our natural rhythms and our endocrine balance just by over thinking and or emotional indulgence.

On the other hand, if we’re in a constant state of afference, we could become overwhelmed by foreign energies, the heart would flood with blood, our limbs would loose sensation becoming weak, we’d get sluggish, lethargic and spend much of our time wallowing. Similar changes would happen metaphysically or energetically when we open ourselves up to an extreme, allowing others to plug into our auric fields. Ironically, too much receptivity can also create stress.

The key is balance and integration, and what Carl Jung refers to as individuation: the integration of masculine and feminine principles. While Jung was probably referring to this psycho-spiritually, we can apply his concepts across the board because the head bone’s connected to heart bone, and all facets of beingness influence one another. Imbalance on any level is stressful for the human physiology, the emotional and mental constitution, as well as spiritually.

Stress can be addressed from any level and create results on all others. For example, we can find a way to slow our minds and this will be an effective remedy for emotional distress, physical tension and spiritual or energetic integration. Or, you could engage in a restorative yoga practice to effect change in the emotional, mental and spiritual realms as well. With any immersion, there are always varying depths of exploration and need for fairly constant attention, especially if the stress is chronic and environmental.

There are many different methods for stress relief, management and reduction, though not so many ways to truly abate stress and balance the ANS. Here are some ideas for different levels of commitment or engagement; you can choose how and where you’d like to begin focus your energies and take your next step. The audios build on each other in this order: Grounding to Anchoring to Vitality.

Getting to the Cause: Audio Files for Destressing

Stress Relief: taking a break, swimming on a hot day, going for a walk in the woods, listening to calming music, taking a sea salt bath, deep breathing, an easy restorative yoga class.

You may temporally access the following audios at Energetic Connection Podcast Page. A new link will be posted in the next 30 days.

Stress Reduction: the ongoing result of stress relieving exercises. Listen to this audio on Grounding.

Stress Management: regular long term practice of stress relief and integration of stress reduction experiences; a clearer place of integration and ability to find stress relief on the fly; conscious intention and attention. Listen to this audio on Anchoring.

Stress Abatement: rewiring the nervous system completely, creating a new neural network for calm and relaxation; use of stress relief, reduction and management methods with a deeper focus and spiritual intention. Listen to this audio on Vitality.

For more information about stress, please see our newsletter post: Elementals

Elementals

First posted in Summer 2012. The links here may be disconnected, so if you’d like more information about our courses, programs & audios, please feel free to email us.

Summer Cycles

On the Celtic Wheel of the Year, Summer actually begins on May 1st with Beltane. Solstice, or Mid-Summer, is the exact point of the Sun’s highest light in the annual cycle. It is from this pinnacle that Goddess Sulis holds the balance of fire and water, while the Sun blasts open the doors to our outer world, encouraging celebration, cleansing, transformation and play. This year Summer Solstice peaked on June 21st at 3:16 Mountain Time.

Further along the Wheel, Lughnasadh is traditionally about 6 weeks later on August 1. Long ago, and quite possibly in another dimension, Lugh honored his foster mother, Tailtiu, for her prolific planting of Ireland. At this point on the Wheel, we celebrate the first harvest of fruits, flowers and bountiful grain crops. Also known as Lammas, or loaf-mass, Lughnasadh calls in the time when the sun begins its path down into darkness once again.

The Wheel of the Year makes its way around the southern bend of Summer Solstice into a standoff with Winter. At the Sun’s highest point,its light is now still a warm and building Yang energy that encourages our attention outward.

Easing out the door slowly through the summer cycle we encounter our child-like sensuality. As the doorway slowly opens wider, the light bleeds even further through the crack. Taking in the smells and sounds of this new season, we celebrate the full opening as we embrace our bodies, singing and dancing as the heat finally bakes us from the inside out. Pulling on the creaks and the cold, the stagnancy deep in our bones finally dissipates.

Nature expresses effortlessly through us while we run and play in this time of great and rapid growth. In the Summer, we are driven by the element of Fire, and in balance, we call on the element of Water and other cool, Moon-like qualities to meet this most potent and natural form of masculine energy. Not yet edgy, the Sun God couples with the purest feminine, Cancerian energies and the the archetypal Goddesses of the season.

This image of Sulis was found through Google Images. Click on the word “Sulis” to go to The Mosaic Maker.

As Queen, Sulis leads the way, holding the polarities of Fire and Water in her making. Masculine and feminine, sun and moon, she is one with herself, a completely individuated female who expertly guides us further into the light. With her, we move beyond our known borders, searching until we reach equal darkness once the Fall cycle begins.

At Summer Solstice we look to the South where the fires of transformation burn; songs of life and its sweet melodies dance on the breeze. A chorus of frogs and birds, two and four-leggeds, everyone harmonizes, calling out in enthusiasm. The sounds of the rain falling, percussive-like in the background, entrance us like drumbeats to remind us that all is not lazy here and we continue to create shifts in our consciousness effortlessly while we play.

The fresh cleansing smells–combined with the pounding, snapping sounds of water falling on Earth beneath the Heavens–excavate the tunnel between our conscious and subconscious minds. At Solstice, we awaken more clearly to our mythical memories.

On this balance point, we stir our desires. With courage to look into the original mirror, the ocean’s depths, seeing our own reflections. In absence of the sea, we find it in the sky, pouring watery energy down from the heavens. The Summer expands time and space, so we listen to sounds of the sea in the sky, and the ringing call of the Goddess who holds all things in equanimity.

Hail to the blue heron who carries us through the gateway; hail to the blue green sea reflected in the sky; hail to the Queen of emotion, the mistress of compassion, for witnessing our dive. May they reveal our innermost feelings, our deepest emotions and bring them to the surface for expression and healing. Hail to the Sun whose fiery light calls in the soul of the Water at Summer Solstice.

Invocation of Sulis

Sulis with your eye wide open, help us see our individual flame, shining light on the entrance so clearly. Open the gate so we can dive with you into the healing spring waters, and the sea inside. Guide us; show us the way as we plumb and explore our depths on this journey toward the light, health and wholeness.

You carry both the flame and the spring of life, Sulis; we call on you to choreograph this Water dance of sensitivity, we call on you to give us strength as we walk through the Fire. Flowing, yet deliberate in our actions, we glide, our heads above water, moving over the rapids with grace and agility.

So multi-faceted and unbridled, our path seems incredibly perilous. Yet as water, we move effortlessly fast around the rocks, buoyant and spontaneous. At times we feel aimless in our search and we drift along waiting and wanting to fill something up. At times our Fire is so overwhelming, we find ourselves standing in dried-up riverbeds, breathing in the dust of our intensity and our destructive natures.

When we stay our course though, powerful in the stillness, the vessel appears and we are complete. Sun to Moon, Heaven to Earth, masculine to feminine, Yin to Yang, we are full and yet we are empty simultaneously.

Ease is our state of mind. As we move with you, our trust grows and our own eye expands. We can now see how you take us over the hidden boulders, through whirlpools that spin us around and frequently take our breath away; sometimes we are even at edge of death. As our own eye opens, we see that going with the flow takes us places we’ve never dreamed of before, out of our safe little streams into the rushing, pulsing rivers of the deep.

Journey Inward: Divine Flow and Rhythms of Life

Take a moment to relax, lying down on your back. Use props under your head and knees if you like. Breath naturally for several inhalations and exhalations, letting your bones be heavy, sinking into the floor; allow your eyes to drop to the back of your head. If you desire, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth–even somewhat forcefully for a bit–to release stagnant energies. Then, breathe naturally and quietly through your nose.

As you breathe into your nose, feel the air moving from the nasal passages, down past your throat, down through your spine. Repeat this several times. As you breathe out, listen to the air passing through, brushing all sides of your throat like a wind; it’s a little like snoring. Breathe in and out through this place in the back of your throat; it’s like listening to the ocean in a huge conch shell.

Now imagine you are floating on a lake. Keep breathing, continuing to listen to the sea inside. Allow your breath to expand into the depth, the width and length of this lake; watch as your breath moves in all directions, like little waves lapping onto the shores.

Feel the mist on your skin, penetrating and entering your pores. Feel the water under your skin; see the clear crystal blue quality of its energy moving through you. This water flows through your veins and nerve pathways, through your subtle energy channels, your meridians and through your fascia. It occupies the space between the layers of your aura.

Your breath becomes the rivers, the tides and currents moving through all of your energy channels. Feel the water surrounding your bones and vital organs, moving into your cells, cleansing and purifying, flowing, open and receptive. You are the ocean.

Feel the water moving up your spine, pooling in each chakra along the way, expanding your intuition as it reaches your head, opening your eye.

Feel it cooling your brain as the water moves up from your kidneys, calming the Fire in your head.

Let this watery breath fountain out through your crown and into your aura. Feel it moving down into your arms and legs, it also fountains out your soles and palms. Feel this loving water element healing your emotional body. Feel your own vitality and life force quicken as you merge with the water on the planet.

Be still here as long as you like.

When you’re ready, bring your knees to your chest, roll over to the right and lie still for a bit longer. When you are ready, sit up. Sit still, breathe and feel the sea inside; when you are ready, stand up.

Water is always here, inside your body; its constant state of motility healing and purifying everywhere it goes.

The information here has been compiled from various personal experiences as well as teachings and information from Kathy Jones’ book “Priestess of Avalon, Priestess of the Goddess,” Mara Freeman’s book, “Kindling the Celtic Spirit,” and Frank MacEowen’s book, “The Celtic Way of Seeing.”

Lughnasadh is the celebration of the Mother as she offers up the abundance of  her feminine nature for humankind. In the feast of the fruits and flowers, we call on the elements of water and earth to honor the wells and the mountains; the first harvest, and the transition of Summer into Fall. Here we honor both gods and goddesses in celebration of the shadow and the light, the mysteries, the warmth of the Sun and the cool breath of the Moon at night.

I have searched for the artist who created this image of Tailtiu and have come up empty handed. If anyone knows the artist, please let me know and I will give credit here.

As the Wheel of the Year turns upward from the South into the West, we meet Lugh (lookgh) a highly skilled immortal who having traveled far and wide experiencing many trials, comes back to live at Tara, the hill of kings. Born of the Tuatha De Danann (tuaay die danan), a tribe known as the gods of humanity, he makes his way home after years of fosterage and helps his people wrestle Ireland from the rule of the Fomoraig (Fomorians), the gods of chaos and wild nature.

Lugh is a god of light, and nasadh is the binding promise he made to his foster mother, Tailtiu, Queen of the Fir Bolg tribe that preceded even the Tuatha De Danann. As the Queen lay dying of exhaustion from clearing the whole of Ireland for agriculture, Lughnasadh, was born as her funereal festival.

More than just an acknowledgment of a mother passing into the otherworld, Lughnasadh is symbolic of the agreement between all living beings and our planet, an honoring of the last sheath of grain, woven through corn husks in the image of woman. These corn dollies were the effigies and receptacles for all woes and shadow states of the tribe that were absorbed and held throughout the year by women. These energies were finally purged at Lughnasadh into the corn dolls during their making, then burned to transmute the energy, using the dross to fertilize new ground for Spring planting.

Feasting on the harvest; singing and dancing to celebrate hand-fasting; competitive games for the men to prove their physical prowess was equal to that of Lugh; the long arms of heat from bonfires that lit up the night sky, symbolizing the powerful light of the Sun in Lugh; and the distinctive yet humble torches carried only by goddesses who’d been into the underworld and back again. This is the festival of victory–the brilliant light against the powers of darkness–as the Wheel turns once more into the West. Now begins the first cycle of Fall.

Mythology & History of Lughnasadh:

Lughnasadh is the celebration of the Mother as she readies to birth her nature for humankind. It is the feast of the fruits and flowers, calling on the elements of water and earth to honor the wells and the mountains; the first harvest and the transition of Summer into Fall. Here we honor both gods and goddesses in celebration of the shadow and the light, the mysteries, the warmth of the Sun and the cool cycles of the Moon.

As the Wheel of the Year turns upward from the South into the West, we meet Lugh (lookgh) a highly skilled immortal who eventually, after many trials, comes back to live at Tara, hill of kings. Born of the Tuatha De Danann (tuaoa die danan), a tribe known as the gods of humanity, he makes his way home after years of fosterage and helps his people wrestle Ireland from the rule of the Fomoraig (Fomorians), the gods of chaos and wild nature.

Lugh is a god of light, and nasadh is the binding promise he made to his foster mother, Tailtiu, Queen of the Fir Bolg tribe that preceded even the Tuatha De Danann. As the Queen lay dying of exhaustion from clearing the whole of Ireland for agriculture, Lughnasadh, was born as her funereal festival.

More than just an acknowledgment of a mother passing into the otherworld, Lughnasadh is symbolic of the agreement between all living beings and our planet, an honoring of the last sheath of grain, woven through corn husks in the image of woman. These corn dollies were the effigies and receptacles for all woes and shadow states of the tribe that were absorbed and held throughout the year by women. These energies were finally purged at Lughnasadh into the corn dolls during their making, then burned to transmute the energy, using the dross to fertilize new ground for Spring planting.

Feasting on the harvest; singing and dancing to celebrate hand-fasting; competitive games for the men to prove their physical prowess was equal to that of Lugh; the long arms of heat from bonfires that lit up the night sky, symbolizing the powerful light of the Sun in Lugh, and the torches carried only by goddesses who’d been into the underworld and back again. This is the festival of victory–the brilliant light against the powers of darkness–as the Wheel turns once more into the West.

Maker of the seasons and birth mother of the Wheel, Demeter is a Greek triple goddess; mother to Persephone, daughter of Hecate. As the goddess of grain she offers the food of life to humans. She is the goddess of all seasons, giving us birth in the Spring, life in the Summer and death in the Fall; then she gives us an opportunity for rebirth again after meeting our shadows in the lonely months of Winter.

Invoking the Gods and the Goddesses of Lughnasadh:

Three faces of the goddess, three phases of the moon, Demeter, as creatrix of the seasons, you personify the birth, the love and the death. You are the mother who rescues herself as the daughter Persephone when she drinks the inter-dimensional brew. Meeting grandmother Hecate in the shadowy darkness of her own underworld, you become sage and expansive in a place where until now, only Hades has flourished.
While stumbling about in the dark, your angry stick stirs the cauldron of remembering. Drop by drop– because mother courage effortlessly drags the lost maiden from her cowering place under the blight of the crone–the essential brew of life dribbles onto stone. It transforms youth into maturity and love to a Queen’s reign.

Steamy and sizzling, the ground cracks wide open under your feet. As rock disintegrates into dust, you fall and your fearful, thunderous rage ignites chaotic static in the air. It fills the sky with bolts of light, surprisingly and safely guiding you through the expanding crevasse into a gateway.

Though you tumble and bounce, still trying to fly, your eyes are flashing and keen. You scan, searching for the edges of a veil that exists for you no more. Now living in the world of humans, you acquiesce and merge. You are the perfect blend of ingredients for the life residing within you as you carry the eternal torch of those who’ve travelled inward and downward, emerging alive and integrated. In your essence, you remain a Queen.

You are the triple goddess; all things come from you, you are all things. Demeter you turn the wheel; you created and now you control the seasons. You are the midwife for sister Ceres, to whom Ker is born, the babe and the first stalk of grain. From this comes the first loaf, the first bread and the first taste of the body, enlightened.

We call on you Demeter, to guide us to see the abundance of your cycles, and to touch the gratitude in our souls. We ask for your blessings on our inner food at harvest time, on the bubbling elixirs for transformation and growth. Mother, may we perfect the tilling of our soil, plant our seeds on fertile ground; may we please you and may you always be here to remove in us what does not belong to you.

Journey through Lughnasadh in Gratitude:

Find a comfortable seat, close your eyes, put your feet on the floor and breathe into the bottom of your feet, gently calling it into your legs and pelvis. Let the breath pool in the pelvic floor, filling it up with air and then releasing it on the exhale.

Now feel the Earth energy moving up from its core into your feet chakras as you inhale, into the bubbling springs of life, moving through your legs into your Root Chakra and back down into the Earth.

Witness the Earth energy carving and defining its channels, streaming from the bottom of your feet, through your legs, passing the ankle, knee and hip joints; through the Root Chakra and into the Earth again.

Observe and notice how the Earth energy clears stagnant energy from your lower body, taking all things foreign or past-time as it moves out and back into the center of the Earth.

As you exhale, send the unwanted energy down deep into the Mother with great gratitude. She will transmute your dross to gold, giving birth to new and blessed forms, the fruits of your essence. Continue to offer her your dried and dead stalks, slashing and burning, fertilizing and making room for new seedlings of growth.

Breathe in and breathe out, sending gratitude for each cycle of nourishing inspiration and the die-off with expiration.

The information here has been compiled from various personal experiences as well as teachings and information from Kathy Jones’ book “Priestess of Avalon, Priestess of the Goddess,” Mara Freeman’s book, “Kindling the Celtic Spirit,” and Frank MacEowen’s book, “The Celtic Way of Seeing.”

ELEMENTS OF STRESS

What is stress?

More so most recently, our planet works overtime, flinging elemental energies around wildly as she expresses her stress and power. Stern and loud, her voice speaks to us about our own rouge expressions, reflecting back the chaos within our human beingness. She not only asks us to handle more and more external change as our cells re-call the ancient ways and how then, we acknowledged our lack of control over the elements. She also begs us to transform our inner terrain, and when we don’t have ears to hear, we feel the roar of her soul vibrating through our bones.

Whether planetary or not, stress is elemental; it’s built into our human design, residing deep within the bones of our DNA. We’re programmed with both the ability to respond to, and create, stress as an integral part of our nervous system as it runs through and connects our physical and subtle bodies. Stress is the hot, red, reactive, efferent impulse of control and desire for power over our environment. Yes, and in the moments when it’s a bit quieter and more productive, it’s also the active, masculine side of our genetic make-up; even women have this energetic and physiological construct.

I’m sure you know it well.

Admit it or not, we’ve all experienced stress and or masculine energy in different moments throughout life and have a lot of memories about how it feels or felt to be stressed and or empowered. I bet you can pull up a mental image picture or a feeling of both pretty easily.  Which of provides the kind of physical sensation, emotion or thought patterns that you’d like to repeat, over and over in your life?

How do you want to embrace your masculinity (whether male or female)? How do you want to be in relationship with this phenomenon and what side of the line do you choose? Will you continue to re-create and experience the edgy sides of stress, or will you call up memories of rest and relaxation, perpetuating ease and gentler sensations instead? Would you rather feel the cool, blue, responsive afference and calming imagery? Maybe someplace inside of us, there’s a balance point we can register in our wiring.

This image of the Redwood grove is my own.

Why do we stress?

Let’s start with some habits. Does any of this sound familiar?

1. Striving (struggling) to make things happen.

2. Completing everything so there’s nothing to do before going to bed or on a trip. Or, doing one last thing before leaving the house.

3. Rushing from one appointment to the next.

4. Hurrying up so you can relax.

5. Driving fast everywhere you go.

6. Always about 5 minutes late because you leave right when you need to be where you’re going

8. Using power over people in your life.

9. PROCRASTINATION and CONTROL!!

These are all very basic and fairly normal stress states, though they’re really only symptoms of what lies much deeper within us. Will you be one to discover what’s underneath the sprawling superficial layers that cover the root system? If we know we’re creating more stress by acting in these ways,  WHY do we perpetuate it? Or do we even notice?

Many of us actually like stress because it’s in our nature to push the envelope. Just how far, and in what ways can we push it for purposes of learning and growing before it truly becomes a stress monster or even an addiction?

The energy of our human composite is something akin to creation and destruction, expansion and boundaries, masculine and feminine principles. These are the foundations from which we use stress to evolve naturally, though in this era we sometimes push our minds and bodies so far with the constant pressure of the media and the introduction of newer and grander technologies, we fry our brains and injure our constitutions.

We can break Yin and Yang into individual parts and see how extreme masculine energy quickly grows into that monster. It’s symptoms are over-powering, over-acting, pushiness & bulldozing, willfulness, over-achievement, control, and are often a result of our resistance to flowing with our natural rhythms and soul forces. This monster feeds on the distance or space we create between Yin and Yang, each other, and the amount of time and energy we expend jumping from one construct to the other searching for an experience of balance and integration. Then destroy it all over, again and again.

If we were more emergent and a bit more curious, as opposed to distracted and compulsive, would we be so stressed? Or would we be bored from a lack of polarized definitions?

Stress is elemental in geological, philosophical, sociological, anthroposophical, physiological and metaphysical ways. Because at best, we humans are ever the alchemists, striving to harness, transform and control the elements of earth, wind, water, fire, space, our minds and emotion; we create lots of chaos in everything we do. And with that we leave a lot of entropy.

Some of this chaos and entropy are immediately noticeable, and when we are awake and present, we use the entropy for our evolution. Yet, much of it remains un-recycled, and has long standing repercussions, even covert reactions and effects that bubble up intermittently and often appear centuries down the historical pathway in places we’d never think to look.

On a purely physical level, think about nuclear energy; it epitomizes stress from within its creation, to the use of its power, to the day it becomes destabilized like in Japan or Three Mile Island, and of course into the earthly elements for decades and centuries to follow.

Directional cue: Don’t waste too much time on superficial mundane meanderings here; think back to the basic studies of geology, physiology, philosophy, anthroposophy, sociology and metaphysics. How does stress, chaos and entropy create more stress on the related and subterranean levels inside of you?

It’s in us to be stressed, and if we aren’t already naturally and actively engaged in the practice of stress, we make it so, everywhere we go. We wear stress like a trophy in every season by resisting what we’ve already chosen–human form, earth life, our families, jobs and more. And yet, it’s also in us to be free and relaxed, if only we could trust and allow the Sun to shine, the winds to blow, the earth to quake and the rains to pour without our help and interference. If we did allow it, if we did use our will coupled with clear thought and inspiration, what would be able to manifest? If we used our God-given gifts, we might just be more balanced!

If.

This resistance runs deep, though. On the outside it may look a lot like certainty, knowingness, intelligence and actualization, especially when we look at ourselves in the mirror. Our minds see what they want to see. Sometimes it holds all those wonderful qualities, that’s true. Yet when it doesn’t, or even when we’re brave enough to slow down to experience a different rhythm–an internal rhythm, one that’s linked to the rhythms and tides of our planet and beyond–then we know there’s something off beat inside of us. Until we change our pace for a mere moment, until we live without extreme stress and breathe a bit more consciously, we’ll never know this other option exists.

How does the Cycle Work?

It’s also in us to be stressed in the right circumstances; that’s the true rhythmic and elemental piece. Like food, if we’re addicted to stress, how do we find balance without becoming overweight, diabetic or anorexic; and in this instance, complacent and apathetic or dead in the face of a kumodo dragon on some movie screen?

In simple terms, here’s the way our system expresses stress: the fore brain perceives a potentially dangerous situation and transmits this information to the hypothalamus deep in the midbrain. The hypothalamus sends a message via the sympathetic (masculine, Yang, Sun) branch of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) to the endocrine system (pituitary, adrenals) which then pumps up the appropriate chemicals and limbs to deal with this danger. In the end, it’s usually adrenalin that overtakes our systems making us feel fast, strong and powerful, able to overcome anything. So we run away, or we stand and take on the challenge. This is better known as fight or flight and it takes us right back to our mammalian and sometimes reptilian patterns.

But you already know that.

 

This image of the autonomic nervous system originates here.

How wonderful to feel so formidable!  Our ego-minds get engaged encouraging us saying, “let’s do that again!” And so the cycle perpetuates.

Read more about the cycle of stress.

Get free visualization audio downloads and read more about theAutonomic Nervous System here.

SELF REFLECTION

I’ve learned a little lately by watching myself create stress out of thin air. Because of that self observation, now, instead of making haste when I’m at home feeding the cats or making dinner, I move thoughtfully and slowly; I breathe while I work; I drive the speed limit more and more, and I’ve begun to give myself time in between engagements. These are the simple things I do to shift my programming.

This image of the Crescent City, CA lighthouse is my own.

One of the sources for my stress, I’ve fairly recently discovered, is driven by a need to please. Now this isn’t profound, yet it’s something we all do at some level. It can be incredibly insidious. We often ignore and or we continue to find deeper levels of it. It’s not hard to spot this trait in others, though our own blind spots get bigger as we get stiffer. Take a moment to honestly inquire within about how you try to please other people.

Do you see it? Why do you do this?

How does it appear, in what situations, and where does it come from? Its origins are probably linked to a deep desire for relationship, fear of losing those relationships or some other deeply rooted survival concern which honestly could be just as stressful as the obsessive compulsive act of pleasing. Even the relationship you have with your personal image, your work and other definitions in the world are at stake here. Read more about Stress & Self Reflection.

EMERGENCE

De-stress and balance yourself. Check out our new meditation and visualization CD, “Emergence.” It’s an experiential series exploring the energies of Sun, Moon and Synergy. You can purchase and download it immediately by clicking here.

OPEN YOUR BODY TO SPIRIT

Online educational opportunities in:

Self-Mastery

Opening to Spirit 1:Exploring Ceremony, Healing and Intuition

 

Opening to Spirit II:

Balancing Sun & Moon, Fire & Water

We offer self-study in 6, 12 and 14-week courses as well as single sessions in all courses if all you want is a little bite.

 

Voices in the Garden

Floating midway down the pit cave, my feet dangled into the abyss. There was barely enough space for my sitting bones on the ledge before it broke away into nothingness. A familiar flush of fear crashed over me yet was instantaneously transmuted into the kind of thrill I get while looking over the edge of the great Cliff’s of Mohr, or the railing on the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge.

Scary and yet, so compelling. I really do understand how people can be overcome by sensation, to lose their minds enough to jump. There might be a lot of freedom in that feeling.

Excitement softened into pleasure as the tingling sensations moved upward under my skin through my body, into my heart, down my arms and eventually exiting, no pouring, out the palms of my hands.

I might have mistaken it for sweat.

All that curiosity and joy was pushed aside because I couldn’t stop my mind from telling it’s own story. Instead, I recoiled, pressing my back into the stone wall behind me, looking down my own nose into the void suspiciously.

I saw absolutely nothing in that midnight milieu, though a creepy feeling began to move like a dense coastal fog into my legs, from way down there. It was like the cold waking breath of a dragon streaming through my body. Each time he exhaled, I inhaled. And as I sucked his breath in, I turned to a resistant stone; on the exhale I lost my constitution, becoming completely drained of life force.

I allowed that dragon to breathe through me for some time. In between breaths I could hear the woman calling from below, “Micaela, Micaela,” she said it again and again.

——————————————————————

I’d been hearing her voice all day now; it was soft and coaxing, like a zephyr dancing along the beach. At the first sound, I ran through the gate past the great Oak tree into the garden, skipping, like a small girl.

Where I normally stop to wade in the stream of healing iron water from the Red Spring, today I ran past making a beeline to the Yew trees and sat on the bench waiting, for something.

When her voice whispered again, I looked into in the thicket between the trees. A dark oval opened and gently pulled me inward. Once inside, I stood at ground level looking down at the roots of one of the ancient Yews.

That’s when I heard the clarity in her voice, this time it was less wispy, much clearer. I walked down the root system following her call. So preoccupied with the tones, I walked and then fell into a void, landing on the stone precipice where I now sit, a ledge barely big enough to cradle my bottom.

My toes are numb, my heart races, I am cold to bone.

Suddenly there’s a tug on my right foot. Something is pulling me into the unknown and I am still strong enough, at least, to resist, once again. “Stop!” I cannot stand on the ledge, though my knees jerk toward my chest and I balance on my sitting bones, leaning back into that stone wall.

She calls again, this woman. Now I hear her sweetness, her softness, as she cries out from her heart, “Micaela, come in!”

No matter what I hear, I trust not because my mind is busy making more stories. Mostly it reminds me that I do not trust myself to take the right turn, here, and I go no further. In no time, the absence of will bounces me back to the surface where I lay, happily relieved, on the bench between the two Yew trees, safe once again.

As I reflected on my adventure, I realize what I’d just done. I actually had made a decision. I’d chosen safety and knowingness over awareness and expansion.