Balancing Health and Life with the Four Directions

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Life can be hectic but it is nothing short of a beautiful winding journey.  What are we to learn on this journey?  We struggle to understand ourselves, those around us, our children, our jobs, our circumstances.  But through all of that, flowers begin to flourish in the cultivated areas, even in the seemingly destroyed crevices of our experiences.  What are some ways that we can maintain balance?  Balancing the spiritual, physical, and mental, and emotional aspects of our lives takes some conscious effort.

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The four directions in Native tradition demonstrates a visual path for us to follow.  In the east the sun rises and another day has come.  We find ourselves thankful for another day of life.  The Creator resides in the east.  Life begins in the east.  Our spiritual strength begins there as we enter this world and look to the rising sun for new beginnings.

Opposite is the west, the darkening way, looked over by Grandmother moon, where we go when we pass over, where our ancestors reside and look over us.  Our physical selves are focused here and the plant medicines in the medicine wheel in the west are able to heal the body of diseases and ailments that prevent us from living our human life to the fullest.  Sensory and rootedness are focused here, where our connection to Spirit resides in the east.

Over in the south we find fun and childlike laughter as we run through the woods and play with animals, plants, birds, and fish.  Where we find our teachers, where we are young and joyous.

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In the north a colder, but not harsh, mountain rises and we become the teacher and wisdom is attained from lessons.  It is also the way of rest and recuperation.

If we find ourselves pulled or “stuck” in one area or another we simply change our focus to its opposite and therefore keep balance.

Experiencing all of the elements can aid in this.  When I think of Mother Earth, I think of the forest.  It was powerful looking out into the ocean and seeing her in all her power.  It is humbling and makes me relook at my priorities.  Going on a hike can reset your whole outlook.  Getting up and watching the sunrise, or taking some quiet time during the sunset can help improve calm.

I have trouble meditating.  If I focus on my breath I will start hyperventilating!  I can barely touch my toes but I do yoga anyway.  Everything can have a variation that is specific to you.  Walking and yoga, eating nutritious food, whole foods closest to the earth, using plant medicines, all these things can balance the physical self.  Whereas meditating  on a word or phrase can help clear your mind enough to rest for a  moment, prayer, smudging, connection in quiet to your Source is the way to balancing the spiritual.  Finding time to play and doing only what brings you real joy balances the emotional self while being mindful of your lessons and getting plenty of rest balances the mind.

Close your eyes and meditate on the bus, sit on a park bench, go swimming, be thankful and as we continue to learn on this journey we will find that we are calmer, wiser, and more mindful.  There is a lot of beauty out there in the world.  Capture as much as you can!

Smudging 101, Deer Visitors, and the 10%

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There is a Talking Circle at my shop the first Sunday of each month.  Not really church, just a place to be with others and pray traditionally with Native influences and customs.  This last Sunday we talked about focusing our energies on the 10%.  90% of what we worry about is what the media tells us about, world issues, family issues, and many, many things that we have absolutely no control over.  As we focus more and more on the 90% we lose track of the 10% of things we can control and our gifts that we carry that can assist in this world.  Focusing on the 90% leads to anxiety and depression and helplessness.

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Last night I felt an overwhelming sense of desperation and helplessness.  How can we possibly afford anything in the state that has the newly highest cost of living?  How can we survive?  How can we stay near our babies if we had to move?  and on and on with scenarios that may or may not exist.  I went to sleep early as slumber will renew me and oft give me answers.  I woke up renewed.

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Within the realms of the 10% I can choose my back up plan in case we cannot get the large farm.  I could very well be an urban homesteader while making a difference in a career.  The career that I would be best in (in my opinion) is teaching young adults.  So, I relooked at my curriculum choices for school with a renewed sense of purpose.  I will let things unfold naturally, while saving money, since I cannot see the future.  No matter how hard I try.  Meanwhile I call on strength from the Great Spirit and the Directions.  This is how to smudge (prayers and blessing).

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Traditionally Cherokee prayer herbs would consist of Sweet grass to renew positive energy, Sage to rid negative energy, Tobacco as an offering to the Great Spirit, and Cedar as an offering to the spirits; animal, plant, and the deceased.  In a pottery bowl (heat proof) place the herbs desired and light.  Using a feather to spread the smoke around a room, over thyself, or in the Four Directions.  Any feather will do.

We call on the spirit of the East direction for strength and hope and faith.  We give thanks to the Creator for all the things in our lives and our own life.  We thank Grandfather Sun for rising each morning and providing warmth and light. 

We call on the spirit of the South for childlike wonder and awe, for lessons, and we thank our four legged brethren for providing us with companionship, food, and clothing, and to the plants for giving of themselves for food and medicine.

We call on the spirit of the West for strength, health, and endurance.  We give thanks to our ancestors for guiding us and praying for us.

We call on the spirit of the North for calm and wisdom.  We thank the north for rain and snow, for lessons learned, and for peace and breath.

We call on the spirit of the sky (galun’lati), to the star people and Grandmother moon for protection and inspiration.

We call on the spirit of the Mother Earth (alohi)for caring for us, for her life, therefore our life as we pledge to be more careful with her.

We are thankful for the ceremonial fire as our prayers are taken upward on the smoke and carried on the winged ones’ feathers and for our connection with all around us. 

We draw the smoke over ourselves that we will have a clear heart, a love for all, and will do things in the right way. 

And as my breath and peace came forth, the beautiful deer (ahwi) came to see me.

Wishing you peace and less worries….ehmenah.