Friday, December 22, 2006

Solstice Greetings

Winter solstice

Happy Christmas, Kwanza, Hannukah, Festival of Light: today is the shortest day, and the beginning of the return of the light. The sun will stay a few minutes longer every day, until it lengthens, incrementally, into summer once again.

It’s also about Christmas trees, wrapping presents, kids going nuts with exams and then whoopee – 2 weeks off school. Yikes!

Usually it’s a hectic, crazy, too-many-parties time of year. This time I’m pacing myself; my shopping was done last week. Miracle! Still lots of time to wrap presents, for some of the 20 family members on each side. Our first party has come and gone; we danced like crazy, had a wild time, drank some great wine and survived the morning after. One down, only five more to go….

You wanna know what’s on my Christmas list? Besides diamonds and pearls? No really, simplicity would be good. I started in November by cleaning out my cupboard of old work clothes. I haven’t worked in an office in over 12 years. Why was I saving those suits with shoulder pads?

Second on my list, living in the moment, having an awareness of joy seep into me. My deepest desire is to feel that I am being guided with every step. That would take a lot of stress off. To know that I’m always in the right place at the right time, if I can slow down enough to appreciate it.

This morning I sat with an intention, a prayer, to let go and trust the higher power. Inside this frame, this container -- what is holding me? Can I let myself be rocked inside the empty space, hear the channel of breath rising and falling, echo of the great wind that breathes me? Help me let go, lose the fear, feel the love.

I have a companion on the path, a guide and I ask him for help too. He says love is stronger than fear.

He also says, “If you want to increase your blessings, start counting them.”

I wish you all a multitude of blessings!

Happy Return of the Light!


Monday, December 18, 2006

Body Guidance

"For healing to occur, we must come to see that we are not so much responsible for our illnesses as responsible to them. ...see it not as the enemy to be 'curecd' but as an aspect of [our] own inner guidance that [i]s trying to direct attention toward health enhancing changes in [] life."
Dr. Christiane Northrup, M.D. Women's Bodies Women's Wisdom

This amazing book came into my life by accident, as wisdom sometimes does. My aunt Betsy had sent it to my mother for Christmas. It sat on the coffee table, and I couldn't take my eyes off the title.

This was about 10 years ago I think, and I doubt if my mother ever had a chance to read the book (she wasn't interested at the time) because my sisters and I nabbed it. Since then I have lent it out to many women. One woman got a second opinion about a hysterectomy and ended up not having or needing one because of this book.

It led me to teach a journal writing course called Writing the Body a few years later, incorporating some exercises I learned from a workshop with Marion Woodman (i.e. having a dialogue with your uterus) with some ideas of Northrup's. I love the idea that our bodies' connection with the emotional system is so linked, so metaphorical. Breaking a leg meaning 'having to stand on one's own two feet', for instance. Breast cancer linked to too much giving, ie breasts = nurturance.

My own connection to my body seems to be blocked at the neck. I've been taking yoga classes for about ten years and although I am still a beginner in the asanas, I just started a daily practice to keep me grounded and in touch with the belly during the day. Being conscious, or mindful as some people say, requires a lot of practice. It's so much easier to live in your head!

Inside my body are so many emotions, ignored, not wanted, neglected or denied. The emotions stuffed down 'there', eaten in haste, swallowed in shame. Listening to the belly wisdom or body guidance, is about getting in touch with what is there, about letting it be, not trying to push it away, or run from it. It catches up with us anyway, in back spasms, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, chronic shoulder and neck pain, arthritis, a myriad of messengers begging us not to live in denial of our feelings.

I believe it's harder still to live with the illnesses that are a consequence of too much stuffing down.

I notice how my belly tightens when I'm hearing something that makes me anxious or afraid. Breathe into it. Stretch into it. Accept what is.

Take it easy, I remind myself. Don't sweat it. Breathe deeply.

Then I also remind myself, my body guidance will not become natural and instinctual overnight.

Fill the belly bowl with breath, let it out, and release.
one more time, now...



Thursday, December 14, 2006

Belly Wisdom Sweetness

If I could be my own healer, what would I do? Maybe lie down on the ground and just breathe, or listen to a flute playing on a recording while a chanting voice hovers in the background.

Maybe let my cat come and lie down on my belly.

Or maybe do some yoga, and get in touch with my own belly wisdom.

What does my belly (or deep feminine soul) have to say? It might invite me to

- stay inside the channel of breath
- feel the corridor of energy up and down my body
- feel the life energy inside the body temple

Inside me is a home for thought, a temple of self-knowing; my belly is a womb carrier, a soul belly bowl, a child-maker cell cooker, a sower of seeds, reaper of blood, life holder bird watcher, cloud bringer, wind no wind breath mover, compass of compassion, place of gut vision.

She, belly wisdom, echoes back distress or acceptance. Anxious yearning or presence of love.

Breathe into the belly-heart beat.

Laugh into the heart of the belly.

Find home base, here, deep inside the breath. Here, she is at home.

I am at home, in my body. Mind focussed, light on, feeling peace, acceptance of my shadow and pain, breath moves up into my heart from the belly, and up into throat, and higher. All the centers light up, root to crown.

From crown to root, all my centers lit.
I hug my body to the bone
and breathe my heart smile into my belly of peace.

That is sweet.



Monday, December 11, 2006

The soul of sexuality

Imagine living in a culture where sex was a sacrament rather than a sin! Dr. Christiane Northrup

Imagine Eve embracing the snake...

“Kundalini is a special kind of energy known in many cultures... Kundalini is said to be hot, fast, powerful, and large. It exists within the earth, within all life, and within each person. …Yogis spend lifetimes learning how to wake up their Kundalini so they may experience enlightenment. Success causes a surge of super-heated energy to travel through the body, firing the nerves, dilating blood vessels, and altering the nature of reality. Sounds like a hot flash to me.” Susun Weed, New Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way

“Orangutans do not go into menopause. Chimpanzees do not need extract of mare pee…. Only in human females does the fertility program shut down years before death.” Natalie Angier, Woman An Intimate Geography

“Sex is the mysterious binding energy that keeps the electrons spinning around the nucleus. It is the energy of God and spirit expressing itself in ever-changing, ever-evolving physical form...

It is the attracting energy that binds every part of the universe. …in the broadest sense, sex is spirit seeking expression in physical form." from Mother Daughter Wisdom, Dr. Christiane Northrup

“The clitoris is simply a bundle of nerves: 8,000 nerve fibers to be precise…twice the number in the penis.” Angier says a clitoris’ sole purpose seems to be to give a woman control over her own sexuality. Woman, An Intimate Geography

Sex and spirituality are both acts of love, according to Thomas Moore in The Soul of Sex. “Affection is one effective way to resolve the dualism of body and spirit….Affection is the process of making love sensual…giving sex the soul it needs so as not to become aggressive, manipulative and empty.

“When spirituality and sexuality come together, like yin and yang, like husband and wife, we discover our lost security. We find the vertical life, the electric axis on which deep sensation runs into lofty spirit…” (sounds like Kundalini to me)

Sex and spirit: body infused with spirit, energy, light: LOVE equals Limitless Oscillating Vibration of Energy.

Think of that next time you make LOVE.



Sunday, December 10, 2006

Sacred Sexuality and the feminine

some unrelated or related thoughts on women's sexuality:

Kundalini is the snake energy coiled at the base of the spine, or 1st chakra. Eve married the snake....initiated into her sexual being/nature.

Borysenko says menopausal women in a hot flash are awakening kundalini energy.

Pinkola Estes’ likens a woman’s heat to her intense sensory awareness that “includes, but is not limited to, her sexuality….There were once Goddess cults devoted to irreverent female sexuality…not derogatory, but concerned with portraying parts of the unconscious that remain, yet today, mysterious and largely uncharted.”

I love her story about Baubo the belly goddess who spreads belly laughs, and cures Demeter of her sadness. Pinkola Estes says arousing the libido through dirty jokes can help break up a depression… Baubo made Demeter laugh by wiggling her hips in a suggestive way. The funny thing was, she had no head: her nipples were her eyes and her vulva was her mouth; from it came juicy jokes. (Women who run with the wolves)

The throat and the vulva are linked in eastern medicine. Two mouths, one above, one below. The one below speaking a different kind of truth, something elemental, natural, of the wild nature.

more tomorrow,


Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Wild feminine

A wonderful book I lived with for over a year by my bedside and as my bible, is the Women Who Run with the wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

I love her descriptions of the wild feminine - that hungry soul who is 'famished for a life that has meaning and makes sense', who has such creative urges that living in ease and comfort can make her feel like she is living in a famine.

"If a woman is supposed to be lady who sits with her knees kissing only each other, if she was raised to keel over in the presence of rough language, if she was never allowed anthying to drink but pasteurized milk...then when she is freed, look out! Suddenly she may not be able to drink enough of those slow-gin fizzes, she may sprawl like a drunken sailor, and her language will peel the paint off the walls. After famine, there is a fear one will again be captured someday. so one gets while the getting is good."

When creative spirit is thwarted or locked away, a wild woman becomes sad, like a wild animal kept in a zoo, no matter how pampered and fed. "Too much domestication breeds out strong and basic impusles to play, relate, cope, rove, commune..." Pinkola Estes calls these women 'instinct injured'.

A woman like this gives herself away and cannot recognize her own needs.

Pinkola Estes analysis of the Red Shoes story leads her to suggest it's overlaid on top of a matriarchal story about the onset of menarche and the taking on of 'less-mother-protected life'. Amazing, that colour red - symbolizing a woman's first blood, birth, and/or miscarriage. I have to re-read this chapter! Full of interesting information that I underlined the first time round.

Anyway, three cheers for the wild feminine! She will not subsist on crumbs, on little sips of fresh air. She will not be stifled, nor held back. "The wild force in a woman's soul demands that she have access to it all." We have adapted to captivity, but it does not suit us. Our instincts may have gone underground, but they are still steaming hot. Our bodies carry the ancient memory of being free, of feeling safe to be a woman, of being strong, sensitive, loving and fierce. All in one.

I, myself, am tired of living small, tired of squishing my 'freedom fighter' into a shoebox. I ache for all the women who are kept indoors, underwraps, who must serve and serve and never have a voice. It seems a small thing, to voice one's opinion without fear. But that voice rings out loud and clear, and clangs a bell in someone else's ear, who has the ears to listen.

I'm raving a bit here, loosening up the tight strings. While my daughter nurses a muscle spasm in her shoulder....from striving too hard, doing too much, already a little perfectionist in training at 14.....

good night,


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Awakening compassion

Many of us, through different religions, have developed an image of God, perhaps as an impersonal form of divine creative energy, like the big bang that birthed the cosmos, or as a benevolent parent-- father or mother (more usually, stern father).

Throughout Christian history, God is painted as a Father figure, but the essence of his concern and love is often presented in its mothering energy as a breast offering milk, in the form of the Madonna.

I prefer not to humanize the God energy in any particular way, but having been brought up Christian, my habit has been to pray to Our Lord. So now I add Our Lady, to balance the masculine image with a feminine one. My most intimate connection to the divine presence is through meditation, through contemplating the stillness in motion, or the source of life within, which can be felt inside the body, and has no gender.

But the idea of god’s gender sticks – which is why the Tao appeals to me. It is interesting that the ancient Chinese called the Tao the Mother of the universe – as well as saying it was nameless and formless. In her book, A Woman's Journey to God, Joan Borysenko quotes a well know Taoist woman philosopher Dr Zhang I Hsien (known as Lily Siou) as saying, “Female and male, called yin and yang in Tao, give joy to each other. They support each other and give life to the next generations… A universal law of Tao is that when the yin is complete, it gives birth to the yang. When yang is complete, it reaches satisfaction and gives energy to the yin; yin is the mother of yang. Both reach the fullness of their potential and give birth to the opposite.”

I find it useful to set aside trying to figure out whether God is male or female, and imagine these powers as feeding each other and birthing each other in the great swirling spiral of light and dark matter that is the universe, continually growing and expanding, dying and creating new life.

In the meantime, I am developing a love of feminine images of the sacred, in whatever form and from whichever culture. They are mostly new to me, so carry no cultural or religious baggage. My current favourites are Our Lady of Guadalupe from Mexico and Kwan Yin, the Buddhist goddess of compassion. Perhaps this represents what I need most in my menopausal journey right now – compassion towards my self, more rest, less judgment, less demands made on myself, and more understanding of my limitations.

Do some research on your own dear readers, to find a mother god image that speaks to you, or attend a class I am giving in January at the West Island Women’s Centre on Embracing the Feminine, sacred symbols of motherhood.

Email me for more information, if you like.