Of course I've been thinking about the Christmas Spirit of late, but not in the way other's may assume. The holidays used to be such an extraordinary time of year. I don't need to reminisce, to show what I mean, so I won't.
Tom was two-ish, playing in his room. I was pretty much bed-ridden. Life was falling to pieces. One afternoon, I had made my way into the living room rocking chair, trying to take a few vertical breaths for the day, when I heard his soft foot-stomp down the hall to me, where he asked:
"Mommy, come see what I am doing in my room."
I explained a couple more times, that I couldn't stand up, as he repeated his sojourn back and forth between me and his room. My heart sank a bit deeper each time, until I relented and used the momentum of the chair to get up onto my feet.
Walking behind him, I looked at the back of his blonde hair and heard his soft voice say:
"Thank you for giving up your rocker for me Mommy."
Who was this boy! What an old, deep soul to say such a heartfelt thing, at such a time. I will never forget it. His sweet sentence, that simple moment, gave me the courage to heal my life.
Through the practice of yoga, therapy, bodywork and a myriad of tinctures, books and just plain life-expereince, I was able to take on the healing process. Several years later, during the holidays, I realized that this time of year used to feel so exceptional. In truth, over the years of my healing journey, the holiday season had become no-less different than the way I felt every day.
I know, I know! It sounds glib to say I keep the Christmas Spirit all year long, but it is true. That's what the healing process does to a person. Marrying the body and mind, as part of a daily routine creates a heart-opening that also happens, for the masses, so naturally during the holidays.
To practice the healing journey, through the breath between inhale and exhale, what's past and what's ahead, tends to converge a soul more fully into the present. Diligently working to clean up a person's psychic messes, those spills that slide OH-SO easily into real-life circumstance as one goes along, is also a unique kind of hero's journey.
For me, a regular yoga practice (everyday, or even one or two times a week), naturally stimulates the flow of the milk of human kindness. The type of kindness I am talking about, begins with being kind to one's Self, by healing my life as I go along.
This past Summer, that same milk of kindness created a 45ft by 45ft walking Labyrinth in the back yard, with four quadrants dedicated to the healing process. One for Healing itself, one for Enlightenment, one for Prosperity and one for Peace.
The Eastern quadrant of this sacred path, a circular metaphor for life, is dedicated to the energy of Enlightenment, of course. To those big A-ha moments (like with 2yr old Tom in the hallway), or little one's, like the nagging in the back of the mind calling me to mend my life. The first thing a person needs, in order to feel the flow of harmony in life, is to get honest with what doesn't feel that way. Over time that discomfort is like a good friend that will tell you the tag is hanging out on your obnoxious holiday sweater.
When finishing the labyrinth, I found the stones I chose to place along the rings of the Enlightenment quadrant all ended up being long and narrow, like a strand of biwa pearls, to help the energy of waking-up flow swift through an open, clear channel. With the sweet, moist, morning light pouring in from the east, this is the quadrant that so aptly sprouts the seeds that perpetually land there, from the trees above. As Enlightenment should be, it's alive with possibility.
The Southern quadrant is dedicated to healing. This area of the "Lab", as I call it, took the most work to open up. I had to cut back nearly 7-feet of old, dead, wild rose bush thorns. I admit, I was nervous about what I would uncover, as I hacked away at the thorny branches.
It got to the point, when I went to sleep at night, when I would close my eyes, all I could see was a forest of thorns; like prince charming hacking away at the forest to wake Sleeping Beauty, with love's first kiss. Healing the soul takes nothing less!
I knew I had gone far enough, when I found, tucked back under feet and feet of dead thorny-branches, a hovel that was home to a backyard quail bevy. (It's a fitting metaphor that the Healing section is the quadrant where bird-crap falls abundantly and moss grows underfoot). This uncovered hovel reminded me of Maurice Sendak's children's book, "Where The Wild Things Are". It was perfect.
A cave made by mother nature Herself, tempting you to enter, to face your fears, to uncover what's unknown and to continue being brave, even in your hestitations, along the way.
The Healing quadrant is where I began, in life and here. This section is where I knew I needed to ask for help. I got honest with the truth that I could not face a task this large alone. So I put it out on Facebook. Julee made a comment that gave my spirit courage and Maria showed up in person. They were the first responders. It is important to ask for help, when one is in the healing quadrant.
The stones that ended up bordering the path in the healing quadrant are cracked and uneven. Someone interested in consistency throughout the "Lab" may have discarded them, but they called me to keep them here; to remind me (in the words of Dicken's Tiny Tim): "Of Him who made beggars walk and blind men see". The Healing section is where the imperfect come to be reborn, through the courage and support of small miracles that start happening on their behalf, all along the way.
The Northern quadrant is dedicated to Prosperity, to abundance and to your ability to become vulnerable to it. You may not associate prosperity with vulnerability, but guess what? People with an abundance of hurt, lack, poverty of all kinds, mind and body, are abjectly vulnerable to it.
Again, If it is so easy to walk around feeling vulnerable to a circumstance, vulnerability can also be a pathway to prosperity on the good-side of the life experience spectrum. It just takes experience and you begin to create a habit of continually trusting it. The reason the "rich get richer", as they say, is that the longer they stay that way, the more they don't know any different. It really is that simple.
The stones in the Prosperity quadrant are AUSPICIOUS, large, round and many look like the shape of a womb that promises the abundant spirit of new life itself.
So how do I embrace, more fully, a prosperity consciousness? Well, I begin by waking up, being brave, doing the work, asking for help and then learning to be open to good things happening, in equal or greater measure to my habit of dealing with "bad" things. I begin to be able to say: "I KNEW IT!" when good stuff happens, in equal measure with how I used to say it, when life's challenges hit me hard.
Here's where we talk turkey: A daily prosperity practice, happens one day at a time, that's what makes it a daily practice. I have to make space, to open up a place for my healing process, to be vulnerable to it in some way, on a daily basis.
To move my body in yoga poses, restorative, flow, chanting, meditation, reading, writing, artwork, whatever moves me, on a daily basis, relaxes the habit between mind and body, called "the stress response". It teaches me, line upon line, that I can set aside the space to be open to living and feeling differently than I have.
Through daily vulnerability, I feel the gift of the present, the joy of knowing something different than what I have so readily accepted about myself. I feel a warm glow and the promise of new birth. I feel the energy of wisdom, from wise men and women, from the philosophies of "the East" and little by little, this practice transforms the bleakness of the past and despair in the future into abundance. When I begin to experience this type of prosperity of heart, I start to echo the shepherds in the fields, following the angelic messenger by "glorifying and praising God for all they had seen". I have felt that praise in me from God and from me to God, by learning to feel more at home in my body, in my daily life. This is where prosperity begins to grow and grow and just like the rough stuff, it begins to spill over into every facet of my life.
The philosophy of the style of yoga called "Bodhi Yoga" (that I developed from moving through the healing process again and again and again) explains this process:
"Bodhi", a Sanskrit word for Awakening, is a yoga practice designed to help you be more aware, better able to notice and understand how your yoga moves your body, mind, emotions and spirit toward a place of balance and abundance. Overtime, the result is that you are able to naturally increase your tolerance for that wonderful awareness. Your yoga in this space is a great tool to bring the abundance and prosperity you learn in class outward, to enrich every other area of your life.
The Western quadrant of the Lab is the Peace quadrant. The stones here are smooth, in a consistent rapport with one another, that is collectively beautiful. The ground is smooth and stays clear of leaves and debris without any work. There is a feeling in this section, of this sacred space, that opens you up to the feeling that whatever is going on right now, wherever I am in the healing process, is enough.
The elegance of simple contentment, of Peace, is the reward of working with healing, enlightenment and prosperity. Peace happens when I can say: "Lets call it good", whatever my circumstance.
Peace is the transcendence of want. Peace can happen when we gain the emotional maturity (the ability to make use of your emotional healing), to be able to understand and recognize those moments when we feel contentment. When we practice life in this way, we then consciously co-create more of them with God's Grace, because that is who we have naturally become.
Contentment is a kind of emotional literacy. Peace and contentment can happen all year long, but during the holiday season, we tend to allow ourselves to feel it more. Peace is the natural result of apprenticing myself (or yourself) in the art of allowing, where a quiet kind of "Joy to the World" becomes your daily mantra.
Peace is the soothing quadrant, in this girl's backyard Labyrinth, that leads you to the entrance of the sacred center. Yet, as in life, as soon as you start feeling dizzy in your excitement to be able to feel centered, you're off balance again. As soon as you say I'm working on releasing my ego-centeric ways, you are bound by them in some form.
The primary way to be at Peace on Earth, to get centered, is to stop seeking after it and beging living it daily, as best you can. When I learned that a sense of Peace on earth, good will to my fellow men and women, was a ongoing matter of yoking (the English word for "yoga") myself with the healing process, I discovered that Peace, more often than not, is the window to feeling content, happy, light and joyful all year.
The best way to feel peace all year is to practice being receptive, when you're in the middle of everything else. It's a practice that all the masters teach...Receptive to what's going on, mind and body, in yourself first and then with others. And lo' and behold, your everyday becomes something extraordinary.
If I could wrap you a gift and set it under your tree, this would be it.
What happens in the center, while there, as well as when you make your way, weaving through the outer rings of this Labyrinth, is a story for another time. So for now, I am simply going to wish you holidays of Healing, Enlightenment, Prosperity and Peace from this day to the next.
Noel & Namaste