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The Gifts of Darkness: An Invitation for Self-Care and Connection

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Image by Catherine Hyde

Image by Catherine Hyde

During the Winter Solstice we experience the shortest day and longest night of the year. This time of extended darkness (the longest of the year) can bring about mixed feelings depending on your situation. For some, having longer nights brings about little disruption to daily life. However for others, this time can brings discomfort on many levels.  In either case, the Winter Solstice can serve as a time to ground and honor where we have been, and where we would like to go.

Darkness of all sorts serves a purpose. Seasonally, the darkness allows for rest and rejuvenation. Emotionally, the darkness can facilitate a stillness we can harness to turn inwards, dream, connect, and reflect. Like the plants that feed on the sun’s energy, so do we need a break from the light. This break brings about balance, rest, and an opportunity for deep connection to ourselves. Dreams are born here in this place of darkness. The Winter Solstice becomes an invitation to access these gifts that darkness brings by taking a pause, turning inward, reflecting on what is, and birthing dreams of what can be.

The day after the Winter Solstice, we begin to see longer days, and shorter nights. We slowly begin to feel more of the sun’s light and energy allowing us to move forward from our dream state. In these days after the Winter Solstice, we can be in the planning stage of manifesting our newborn dreams, and begin to take action on bringing them to light.

I also like to think of this time as a reminder that, no matter how dark our days, there is the promise of light. When in the darkness, it can be hard to imagine anything different. However nature always serves as a living example of how life works.

If time allows, I invite you to take this opportunity to connect with yourself, especially if you are about to step into holiday festivities where you will be surrounded by family and/or friends. A moment of connection in any manner (prayer, mediation, silence, journaling, etc.) is a beautiful way to practice self-care as it can really help ground you before stepping into relationships with others. The added bonus is: others then get the best you available.

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, this year’s Winter Solstice will be on December21 or 22 (for your exact day/time go to: http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/winter-solstice.html).

Here are some suggestions on ways to acknowledge the Winter Solstice and connect with yourself:

 Simple Activities:

  • Make a big pot of soup rich with grounding vegetables (i.e. potatoes, carrots and other root vegetables) and warm spices. If possible, eat early

  • Drink warm liquids, ideally something sweet, spicy and grounding like chai

  • If you have a fireplace, light a fire and spend time in prayer, mediation, or silence

  • Light those special candles you have been saving (use fire-safe precautions)

  • Spend time in contemplation through journaling, drawing, or other creative outlet. Explore your year and write down what you’d like to see in the new year.

  • Hang an evergreen wreath on your door (evergreens are a symbol of protection, prosperity, renewal, and the continuation of life)

 Rituals:

 Intention Setting Ritual:

  1. Clear the space by smudging sage, or by noise through clapping or ringing a bell 3 times.

  2. In silence, settle into your body by taking a deep breath in and exhale slowly.

  3. Allow yourself to let go of the day’s thoughts and worries.

  4. Ask yourself, “What do I want to manifest in the next six months?”

  5. When you have several intentions, write them down on small pieces of paper.

  6. As these intentions come into being, place them into a container. In 6 months, open your container to review what dreams you manifested.

You can also do this ritual at every New Moon and collect manifested dreams throughout the year. At the end of the year, open your container to review what dreams you manifested.

 Releasing Ceremony:

This ceremony is best done out doors, or indoors using a fireplace. An indoor option is also offered in the instructions.

  1. Light a fire outdoors in a grill or fire pit, or use an indoor fireplace.

  2. Light candles and clear the space by smudging sage, or by noise through clapping or ringing a bell 3 times.

  3. In silence, settle into your body by taking a deep breath in and exhale slowly.

  4. Allow yourself to let go of the day’s thoughts and worries.

  5. Ask yourself, “What do I want to release? What does not serve me?” This can include habits or patterns that get in the way of manifesting your intentions.

  6. On small pieces of paper write down what you want to release. At the end of each item write “Be Gone!”

  7. Read each item out loud (or to yourself silently) and toss them, one by one, into the fire. If indoors you can use a fireplace, use s shredder, or cut into small pieces using scissors.

  8. Give gratitude for new beginnings and the light that is on its way.

 Welcoming the Light Ceremony:

  1. Place one large unlit candle at the center of the table, and several smaller unit candles (such a tea light candles) near you.

  2. Turn off all the lights and spend a moment in darkness, as a symbol of honoring the gifts of darkness and welcoming the light.

  3. Light the large candle and offer a blessing.

  4. One by one, light each small candle from the main flame and place each one in a circle or spiral around the main one.

  5. When all candles are lit, give gratitude for new beginnings and the light that is on its way.

Are you a woman who would you like deeper, more personalized guidance in letting go of what no longer serves you, and bringing in more of what you do want into your life? I offer 1:1 coaching programs designed to help women release emotional blocks, and step into their power and voice. To apply go to: http://www.medicinanepantla.com/#!strategy-session-request/s57j1

#ThanksgivingWithMexicanFamilies

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This year, I will be keeping it low key, soaking in the time off from work, and having a simple Vegan Thanksgiving meal. Not because I “celebrate” Thanksgiving, but because I like food.

As I scrolled through the #ThanksgivingWithMexicanFamilies tweets, I began to long for “once-upon-a-time”, when my childhood home was filled with so much family and friends of the family during the holidays.

How many of these can you relate to?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Wrong With Wanting More?

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“What’s wrong with wanting more? If you can fly then soar! With all there is, why settle for just a piece of sky?”

Last Thursday night, at the Adventures in Living class at Inner Light Ministries​, Rev. D referenced the movie Yentl, and my heart cracked open as I circled back to a sweet place in time for me.

I was in my mid 20’s, my mother had just passed away, and I was in the throws of a restlessness to live my life fully. My boss, who was a mother figure to me (I lived out of state and away from family), mentioned the movie Yentl to me. As I watched it, I identified so strongly with this character who wanted more than her little town could giver her, and was willing to do anything for what she knew was hers, even at the cost of going against cultural norms.

When I heard “A Piece of Sky”, I felt it directly pierce into my heart and soul as it showed me a stronger part of myself I yet had words for. I didn’t know it then, but this song was showing me a place I would eventually land in. The truer part of myself. At the time, I believed this song wholeheartedly, but still had a significant amount of self doubt and shame that would keep me hacking through the unpaved journey of my life.

And now, here I was in my early 40’s in Rev. D’s class, hearing her refer to this film. She was asking the question of “How badly do you want it?” “It” being our highest aspiration for being in the Adventures in Living class. For myself, this translates into, my vision for my highest self.

“How badly do you want it?” she asked, and I remembered a time when I thought it was bad to want, selfish to want, greedy to want, sinful to want, unappreciative to want. Although I shook a lot of those beliefs off of me over time, I know there is enough of these beliefs in me that hold me back in these covert and sub/unconscious ways.

How badly do I want it? It being a connected, empowered, and joy filled life. I want it with all of the passion “A Piece of Sky” embodies. Although it took a while, I can now say that I fully feel “A Piece of Sky”, not as a future vision, but as a complete NOW. I feel this song in my bones and my heart expands.

So I share this song with you, in hopes that you have a dream and are confident in wanting more, and can ask yourself “How badly do you want it?”

DAY 6 #NAJOWRIMOPROMPT: WHAT WERE YOU DOING TEN YEARS AGO?

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10-years-agoWhoa. Life got ahead of me, and I am beeehind.

So here we go..

“Today, take some time and travel back ten years ago (2005) in your life. Review photos or journal entries to help remember what was going on in your life ten years ago. How things changed for you since then? Did you accomplish some goals along the way? Have there been setbacks? Are you better off today than you were ten years ago? What experience stands out the most for you?”

In July of 2005 I was in graduate school in the School Counseling program at San Jose State University.  I was living in Salinas, California, working as a Social Worker/Case Manager with adolescents, living in my childhood home with my sister, and in a relationship that should have ended a year before.

At that time I believed I was winning my lifetime battle with weight. I was very hyper-conscious (anxious) about my exercise and what I ate. For the first time in my life, I considered myself athletic. The gym was my church, and food was something to be feared and conquered. I was doing the diet thing really well, and felt both strong and scared.

Since then, a lot has happened. A lot of deconstruction and rebuilding. I have earned money, and lost money; lost weight and gained weight; lost hope and gained hope. I hasn’t been easy or fun.

I accomplished my degree, never applied it directly as I realized I no longer wanted to work in the school system, and acquired a second degree in Counseling. I also realized that my strict eating and exercise routine was actually a disorder.

I achieved a few goals then, such as traveling, moving to a new location, and starting my journey towards working independently. I also achieved a few things I didn’t know I needed. For example, and deeper spiritual self, deeper consciousness, and deeper inner healing.

There has been a slew of setbacks, Setbacks I would have never expected. Setbacks that, to this day still scares me.

Emotionally and spiritually I am better of today. However, I am not better off financially. I am actually in a worse state financially than I was 10 years ago.

There are two experiences that stands out he most. The 24-day European trip I had in 2008 gave me a life experience where I felt most alive. Then in 2009, I began the unplanned slow and intense deconstruction that lead to intense emotional despair, significant life changes, unlearning difficult life lessons, and transformation into a healing path.

To take part in July’s #NAJOWRIMO, visit: http://najowrimo.org/welcome-to-najowrimo/blog-and-updates/

DAY 5 #NAJOWRIMOPROMPT: WHICH IS A BETTER WAY TO TRAVEL FOR YOU?

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mode of travelWHICH IS A BETTER WAY TO TRAVEL FOR YOU?

My most pleasurable experience traveling was when I was bumped up to first class on a flight to Seattle. If I could afford to travel this way all the time I would. Ah, the leg room, the big comfy seats, the friendly service. It was truly a comfort I will never forget.

For short distances I like the train. Being in those old Amtrak buildings, and boarding the train feels so nostalgic to me. The click-clack of the tracks, watching people come and go at the stops along the way, getting to meet fellow travellers, really warms me up to this mode for short distance travel.

To take part in July’s #NAJOWRIMO, visit: http://najowrimo.org/welcome-to-najowrimo/blog-and-updates/

DAY 4 #NAJOWRIMOPROMPT: WRITE ABOUT THE MOST IMPORTANT JOURNEY YOU HAVE EVER TAKEN

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inwardWRITE ABOUT THE MOST IMPORTANT JOURNEY YOU HAVE EVER TAKEN

On day 2 of #NAJOWRIMO, I wrote about an aspect of the road less traveled as an inward journey.

“The weight of living life from a place of grasping for safety brought me to my knees. All of my familiar ways no longer worked for me, and I was faced with resigning to hopelessness or going through a re-birthing process that was painful, unfamiliar, and foreign to my family, friends, and community. I had to look back at my life, reach out for help, and learn how to walk in this world in a different way than I was raised and accustomed to. Although most of my life consisted of consciously doing things different than my family, in this moment in time, I was stepping out of my unconscious family patterns, and seeking my authenticity in an existential way far deeper than I ever had.”

Of all the journeys I have taken, this by far is the most important. It was, and continues to be, a journey to re-claiming myself, re-membering myself, and coming home to myself.

To take part in July’s #NAJOWRIMO, visit: http://najowrimo.org/welcome-to-najowrimo/blog-and-updates/

DAY 3 #NAJOWRIMOPROMPT: MAKE A LIST OF ALL THE PLACES YOU WOULD LIKE TO TRAVEL TO

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imgresMAKE A LIST OF ALL THE PLACES YOU WOULD LIKE TO TRAVEL TO

I was in middle school when I asked my mom if we could go to Australia. At the time we lived in an agricultural town in California, and had only driven annually to Juarez, Mexico to visit family. And here  I was, all 13 years of me, asking my mom to go to Australia.

Her answer? “We can’t go there! We don’t know anyone in Australia!” That moment gave me a glimpse into my mother’s world, and a better understanding of her. Maybe it also gave me a better understanding of myself as well. I wanted to go to places we had never been to, and never considered knowing people at these places as an issue. Elementary school field trips made me realize that visiting new places gave me a jolt of excitement and a sense of wonder. If a country or other location fascinated me, why not travel to see it?

As I grew older, my travels took the shape of spontaneous day trips to unfamiliar locations. My first cross-Atlantic journey took place in 2008, where I traveled through Europe in 24 days. I don’t know if I ever felt more alive than that time, and I hesitate to try and re-create it, because it just cannot be. However there are a few places from that trip I would like to re-vist and spend more time in.

Brussels, Belgium
Prague, Czech Republic
Venice, Italy
Paris, France
London, England

Other places I would like to re-visit:
Austin, Texas
Seattle, Washington

As for new places to visit:
San Antonio, Texas
Nashville, Tennessee
New Orleans, Louisiana
Mexico City, Mexico
New York, New York
Giza, Egypt
Marrakech, Morocco
New Delhi, India
Auckland, New Zealand
Croatia (coastal)
Athena Greece
Berlin, Germany
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Dublin, Ireland
Antarctica

In looking at this list, I am realizing that if I want to visit at least half of these places, I need to get-a-move on!

To take part in July’s #NAJOWRIMO, visit: http://najowrimo.org/welcome-to-najowrimo/blog-and-updates/

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