The Home Practice

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This is not a photo of me. I am usually in pajamas doing yoga with my cats.

I was always the last one to be chosen for a team.  It was disappointing for kids to see my height and seemingly athletic limbs then to witness my ability.  I can dance, that is about it.  I get a stomach cramp running, hurt my wrist weight lifting, daydream enough to get hit by a ball, and couldn’t catch one to save my life.  I do notice though that if I do not do any exercise my back starts to hurt, I am more fatigued, and long intervals between workouts cause any good work I did to unravel.

I am brilliant at creating ideas and medicines and magic but having so many ideas at the same time does tend to make me flighty.  A personality trait I doubt will leave me.  I need a workout that will keep me focused.  I also need a workout that I can tailor if my old knee injury or sciatica flares up, or the nerve damage in my toe from ballet kicks in, or I slept wrong and my neck is out of whack.  I also do not need to compare myself to fit twenty year olds.  I also don’t particularly like leaving the house if I don’t have to.  So, the very best practice for me (and I don’t wonder for you too) is a home practice.

We know exercise is absolutely imperative to cardiovascular, lymphatic, and skeletal health.  Hormones are improved, mood is improved, and a good booty are all reasons to get our cute selves into the living room!

I am a huge advocate of yoga.  There are many types of yoga and lots of videos that can be checked out a week at a time from the library.  I love all types of yoga.  I never feel like I want a serious, back breaking, sweat inducing workout.  Yoga makes me focus so I don’t fall on my head, effectively clearing my mind and making me feel calm, but I also get a much better workout than I think I am because I like the feel of stretching, dance motions, and the feeling that I am connected to nature though movement.  I stand up straighter, feel stronger, and am more flexible.

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This is me, I would LOVE to be able to do yoga on a beach each day. I guess the back yard works too.

Yoga also encourages you to slow your mind, meditate and send out your prayers for the day.  Breathing regulation and the body moving in natural ways seems to me to be the very best and a very natural form of exercise.  It can be done anywhere and can be done with or without a video, and can be altered to the body’s desires for the day.

Walks in the park and swimming, hiking in the mountains or a quick jog are all lovely but when the desire to stay in one’s jammies hits (every day) we can always roll out the yoga mat in the living room and get an effective and invigorating workout.

 

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!

The Interim Room (and a recipe for a luxurious oil bath)

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I am sitting in the waiting room between the first part of my life and the second.  A space with cream colored walls and carpet and a fireplace run by a light switch.  It’s quiet here in this respite room as I wait for the universe to throw open the next door.  I breathe and listen to my own heart beat.  My lesson here is rest.  Learning to balance rest, work, and play. I am plenty good at the work and play part, not so much with the rest.  I am forced to learn rest before I can move on.  It is imperative to the creation and success of our next ventures.

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I will be forty-two next week.  I am thankful for each and every birthday as I know how precious they are no matter the age.  Perhaps I will be sitting on a beach or running about the San Diego zoo or strolling a really fresh farmer’s market.  I know not, open to adventure, we fly out Tuesday to stay with our friends, Lisa and Steve, who graciously opened their home to us.  We are taking the opportunity to travel some this year before we have to find farm sitters again!

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I am really listening to myself in the silence.  I am highly sensitive person.  I have to be careful what I watch or read as it can completely change my heart rate, ignite fear, create chaos.  I close my eyes and meditate on nothing, or love, or acceptance, or peace as I look out beyond the crows to the snow bound mountains and the low lying clouds that embrace.  I stretch into yoga poses, more flexible and getting stronger than I have been in a long time.  I have written poetry and gratitude every day since the beginning of the year and my poetry collection is growing into an anthology of my life.  I recognize myself more, I embrace change, I look forward to the future, but I embrace today.  Even the dishwasher and dryer (which I still could do without).

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The highlight of this beautiful apartment is the garden tub.  The first I have fit in at nearly six feet tall.  It is wide in girth and long and luxurious as I rest my neck against its back and meld into the warm water in the warm bathroom with candles lit.  My spirit resetting at each wave of water and each meditation prompt, and each yoga move, and each delicious clean dish served from my kitchen.  A lovely interim.

The Luxury Bath

As the bath is filling, light candles.  Let there be silence, it is mesmerizing.

To water add a good drizzle of oil, such as olive, apricot kernel, avocado, sunflower, et cetera.

Add 1/2 cup of baking soda to balance the PH of the body.

Add 1/2 cup of fine sea salt.

Rest in bath and pour a bit of your favorite (not volatile or hot) essential oil under the pouring water.  I particularly love rose, lavender, jasmine, and/or orange depending on my mood.

Breathe and rest completely.

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Rest, I am learning, is as important as work and play.

(You can type “A Walk in the Vineyards” in the Search and find our week of adventures in Napa Valley and San Francisco with Steve and Lisa from a few years ago.)

As the Owls Looked On (and teas to help heal the spirit)

 

Spirit Journal CoverThe five owls perched overhead near me each morning as I wrote, prayed, cried, and did yoga.  The temporary farm we were on last summer was a beautiful place.  I knew we were about to lose everything and the dread of what was going to happen next and the scrambling for some semblance of sanity and organized planning to move forward tangled with each other in that open field as I sat cross legged in the early morning sun peering across the acres of unscathed plains, my eyes taking in the sight of watercolor mountain tops still touched by snow across the horizon.  The owls looked on.  Directly at me.  Their messages clear and soothing.  Change was coming, but it would be for the best.

During that time I jotted down each little message that came to me.  Different plants came to mind to be made into teas.  I knew the spiritual use for some of them like roses-love, hawthorn-heals a broken heart, but some of the herbs that came to mind I did not know the meaning of and looked them up to find that they had a perfect place in each tea blend.  After I wrote, meditated, and listened, I went into the old farm kitchen and made a large mug of tea using those herbs for the day.  I would feel my strength return.  I did this for twelve days.

Eight months later the pieces fell together in one seamless layout.  In one day the book was completed.  A twelve day journal that discusses spirit animals and chakras, highlights a word to meditate on, a quote, a writing prompt, a gratitude section, a place to jot down other healthful habits, places to write and dream, and a spiritual tea blend.  I carefully hand blended each tea in each tea bag and placed them all in a pretty cellophane bag, one for each book that was printed.  It took days but I knew that this journal and the healing teas with them would help others just as it had me.

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The cover of the book is a photograph of one of the owls that stayed near me during my time on that farm while this book was creating itself.  This was one of the infant horned owls that looked on.  My daughter, Emily, stayed up in a tree for some time waiting to capture this shot.  It serves as a reminder that we are not alone and that everything in the universe works together to help us on our journey.

“White Wolf’s Spirit Journal; Twelve Days of Balancing, Healing, and Energizing the Spiritual, Emotional, and Physical Self” is only $25 plus shipping.  Call to order-(303)617-3370 or send a check to White Wolf Medicine, P.O.Box 2012, Elizabeth, CO 80107 for $35 to order.  Better yet, come into my shop, have a cup of tea, and pick one up!

 

 

 

 

Setting Yourself Free (Part 2- Strength and Balance in 20 minutes)

Yesterday we learned how to help the mind and the heart release, consciously choosing happiness.  Today we will remember to send people off in bubbles, slam file drawers, and walk out of imaginary rooms.  To add to that today we will strengthen our body, our physical core, the outer vessel of our spirit.

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I have no desire to go to the gym.  Doug and I did that for years with nary a change.  We also like staying near the house.  We keep in pretty good shape from hauling wood, water, and farming but now we are moving to the city and will need to find new ways to keep our bodies strong.  We are not talking body building strong, just strong enough to carry around our spirit and let us do the things we want to do.  The steep hills and walking trails of Manitou will be delightful to explore.  There is yoga taught there seven days a week and I can hardly wait!

My favorite video.

My favorite video.

I started doing yoga when we became engaged.  I wanted to be strong and beautiful.  I am not a natural!  I cannot stand on my head or do any of the extensive moves but everything I can do makes me feel rooted and strong and gorgeous and connected to the world around me.  I have muscle definition and flexibility for everything I want to do, in 20 minutes a day.  I can either pop in a video and do yoga with the cats in the living room or remember many moves and practice yoga outside in front of the owls and the vast prairie.

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Yoga can be done by anyone, however slight or advanced.  I do not own yoga pants or even have a yoga mat!  It is a wonderful way to keep balanced in 20 minutes a day, or every other day!  When you are practicing yoga, feel your feet connect to the earth.  Feel the top of your head connect to the sky and Creator.  Pull yourself up as you do moves.  Feel beautiful.  For you are a beautiful creation.