In this holiday-packed time of year one could almost overlook the deepening darkness and the inclination to hibernate that are natural to the season. People of not so many generations back used to sleep more in these long nights. Not us. We turn on the lights, indoors and out, fight nature’s pull to cozy in, and schedule the splashiest late-night parties of the year. Instead of becoming quiet and introspective, we’re more likely than ever to lose ourselves in a frenetic social whirl.
There is, of course, something miraculous and hopeful happening this time every year, something truly worth celebrating: the simple, wondrous rebirth of light where the ever-increasing darkness of fall gives way to the lengthening days of winter and spring. The many spiritual holidays celebrated within days or weeks of the winter solstice all echo our instinctive understanding of light’s importance to our physical survival and spiritual renewal.
Light is an often-used metaphor for all things wise and wonderful. We “see the light,” find “light at the end of a tunnel” and a “silver lining around every dark cloud.” It’s easy to give credit for all things good to the light and simply ignore the power of dark; darkness, with its opposite connotations of fearfulness, depression, ignorance and death.
Yet, here we are in a time of year when it’s difficult to deny the presence of darkness, as hard as we may try. What’s more, whatever we ignore inevitably has a way of sneaking up from behind and tripping us when we’re not looking. This is certainly true of those aspects of self we don’t like. The ones we keep hidden in the dark nether regions of our being because they’re too painful, too shameful, or too imperfect to admit to ourselves, let alone to other people.
So, here’s a different kind of winter solstice ritual, one that honors the moment of deepest darkness that has to happen before we can give ourselves over to the jubilant celebration of light. After all, this is the perfect time of year to give darkness its due and, for once, stop trying to ignore or artificially light it out of existence. And even though it may not inspire the cheerful exuberance of spring or summer, see if this exercise doesn’t leave you clearer, cleaner, and more ready to fully embrace the deep quiet miracle of light that is the season’s truest offering.
As a starting place, take a moment to reflect on the year that’s been, the one that’s following its natural course and ending in darkness. What are the stand-out “points of darkness” you experienced this year? The very worst of times, the biggest catastrophes, the deepest despair, the times you most want to forget ever happened?
As you recall these moments, notice the feelings these memories evoke. We tend to suppress, ignore or medicate pain out of existence in much the same way we artificially cover darkness with light. Unfortunately, all these pain-coping methods don’t make pain go away, just underground until it eventually grows too big to ignore. So instead of sending one more bit of pain to the dark, crowded storage locker of your psyche, this time simply be with it.
Notice how it feels in your body. Is it a sinking feeling in your gut? An empty place in your heart? A cloud of confusion around your head? A lump in your throat? A tense, armored feeling in your muscles? A clenched feeling in your jaw or fists? A fearfulness in your bowels? Instead of turning away from these raw places, this time give them your full attention. Notice the sensation of the feeling in your body and relax into it. Stop struggling. Stop thinking, stop trying to move on or make it go away.
Also let go of familiar interpretations and judgments you have around these feelings: “My sadness is bottomless. If I truly feel it, I’ll just fall deeper and deeper until I drown.” Or “My anger is wrong. I shouldn’t have it. It will hurt someone.” Tell yourself instead that as you stop resisting feeling, pain stops being pain and becomes something usable, something healing. Go deeply enough into these dark parts of yourself until you feel your resistance letting go, struggle being replaced by surrender, tension turning into relaxation, fear giving way to an awareness that there is nothing to fear.
Now, imagine yourself in total darkness. (Try doing this at night.) Most of us can recall middle of the night anxieties where we lay awake in bed, in the dark, and our whole world looked dismal and dangerous in a way it seldom does during the day. The darkness to imagine now is a different one altogether (or perhaps the same, but we are different). This darkness is healing.
So many of us on a spiritual path have invoked the healing power of light, but what about that of dark? Imagine darkness around you like sheltering earth around a seed. Instead of imagining light pouring into the wounded places of your soul, imagine darkness, like a mother, drawing out of you the pain, doubt, worry, resentment, confusion and fear that interfere with peace. Feel it absorbing into itself the thoughts, memories and patterns that keep you from being your true self. Let the dark take back to itself all the darkness in you so there’s nothing left but light. The light that needs no artificial or external inducement. The Inner Light that has always been there. Feel yourself in this dark like a caterpillar in its chrysalis, safe and sheltered while a miraculous flurry of transformation is quietly underway.
Last, but not least, reflect again on those moments of darkness that have occurred in your life this year and now, instead of feeling the pain, ask them to show you their hidden blessings. How have you deepened, strengthened, changed direction, reached out to others or cared more deeply for yourself? How have you learned compassion, acceptance or forgiveness? Or gained clarity, broken down barriers, found your tenderness, released stubbornness and ego, or allowed others to help you? How has your very definition of who you are changed? Give thanks for the power of darkness to polish, facet and bring out the natural brilliance of your heart.
Consider sharing with another person the story of finding great blessing in this year’s points of darkness. Let the power of your spoken word change your personal mythology, transforming defeats and losses into powerful stories of resurrection.
The Power Intensive, by far my most intensive offering, provides a safe container for the journey into True Power. The process asks us to unlearn everything we thought we knew for certain, shed remnants of the past we thought we were already done with, discern our most passionate callings and strengthen our will. It lifts us to moments of ecstatic peak life experience where healing and manifestation happen instantaneously, and sets us down again feeling less afraid of uncertainty; more trusting in the process of life. If I said I knew what would happen in each intensive, I’d be lying. It’s truly a laboratory for experimentation; a crucible for transformation with each session being as different and unpredictable as the people in attendance and the times we’re in. Those who’ve attended one Power Intensive often come back again and again because each experience is a new adventure and cultivates a new dimension of empowerment.
“POWER” is a workshop I recommend for who people who already have a sense of their own power and are ready to achieve a higher degree of mastery. When such a group of people come together, there truly is no limit to what we can create. What are appropriate goals to bring to the Power Intensive? No less than your highest dreams and heart’s desires. Understand, however, that stepping into True Power opens the door to dreams you never thought to dream before. You may discover things your heart has always longed for but your mind has never known how to name, and these will undoubtedly require leaving your comfort zone far behind. And now, if you’re excited, a little afraid, and ready for a big leap, you may be a candidate for the upcoming session of POWER!
The following feedback came from POWER Intensive participants
My experience was everything I hoped it would be and more! I have always had amazing miracles occur during and after the workshops, but this most recent miracle experience was an instant manifestation, and very specific. I had been looking for a way to obtain a home of my own and because of a recent divorce was unable to purchase one. As I got into my vehicle with the broken muffler, and prayed she would start, I started listening to my messages. My father had called at some point while I was proclaiming my right to manifest my home. He had left a message stating that he would like to visit the twin cities and see about helping me buy a house! Whoa. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It seemed so easy and effortless to manifest. A few days later my good neighbor asked me if I knew of anyone who wanted a Subaru Outback, green with a stick shift, new stereo, and all-wheel drive. I laughed and said, yes, I would love to buy my dream car, would she take payments, of course, she said! I now drive my very reliable dream car while house hunting with my father!
OMG, everyone!!! Have I got a miracle healing story for you!! This is the most dramatic miracle I have ever manifested!!
…I don’t even know what to say other than wow, wow, wow… I am still reeling. But SOMETHING DEFINITELY SHIFTED DURING OUR WORKSHOP!!!!!! I would say for you to expect miracles OF ANY MAGNITUDE!!!!!!!!!!!!! Seriously!!”
Advance registration is required. Details and registration information below:
Wednesday: 6 PM to approximately 12 AM
Thurs & Friday: 6:30 PM to approximately 12 AM
Saturday: 12:30 PM to approximately 12 AM
Sunday: 1 PM to approximately 9 PM
(Starting times are exact. Ending times are approximate.)
Cost: Payment by self-determined fee. A $150 deposit is required to reserve your space. This deposit is nonrefundable if you do not attend or complete the workshop. At the end you will be directed to consult your inner guidance as to what is the right amount of payment for you. At that time you may add to or request back any or all of your deposit. You may pay all at once with cash, check, or credit card, or over time by giving a series of post-dated checks or via Pay Pal.
Location: Epworth United Methodist Church,
3207 37th Ave. S. in the Longfellow area of Minneapolis
For questions or to receive a registration form, contact Lynn Woodland at firstname.lastname@example.org
FIRST NIGHT DETAILS AND GENERAL INFORMATION
On the first evening of the workshop, please arrive at 6:00. There will be a chance to ask for assistance with carpooling or overnight accommodations at the end of the first night. If you have difficulty arranging a ride for the first day, please request help with this.
Dress comfortably and bring a pillow and a blanket for on-the-floor activities. Chairs are also available, and we encourage you to use whatever type of seating will be most comfortable for you. Many people like to bring armless stadium seats (these are available at places like Target for about $20) or bean bag chairs for comfort on the floor. No food is served during the workshop, however, you may bring your own food and drinks for the breaks. On Saturday and Sunday there is a long dinner break which will be pot luck or taken at a restaurant. Details about meals will be provided on the first night. The meal breaks are considered part of the workshop. Please do not schedule outside activities during that time.
Preparing for the POWER Intensive
POWER is a profoundly transformational process that begins as soon as you make the commitment to attend. To help you better understand this process and work with it effectively, please carefully read the following at least several times:
All movement toward growth, even when it is growth toward what we most want in life, stirs our resistance to change. Nearly everyone who participates in POWER experiences some level of resistance prior to attendance. This can take the form of anxiety, nervousness, and emotional resistance, or it can manifest in various degrees of breakdown, including work conflicts, schedule conflicts, illness, car and transportation problems, forgetfulness, other people’s needs cutting into the time you set for yourself to attend the workshop, and a multitude of other circumstantial obstacles.
Once you decide to do POWER, the extent to which things get in the way of your attendance very likely parallels the extent to which you find yourself falling short of your goals in life. Therefore, each obstacle that you overcome becomes an important step in breaking through old patterns of limitation and will greatly enhance your experience in the workshop. A helpful perspective is to ask yourself: if having, doing, or being your highest heart’s desire required overcoming these obstacles, could you/would you do it? Many people have experienced significant breakthroughs and healing before the workshop even began, simply through the power of their commitment and intention to grow.
The following steps will help you to work productively with the period of time before the workshop begins:
- Complete and submit your application as soon as possible. Your POWER experience begins when you make this commitment.
- Before sleep and on awakening, take several moments to reflect upon what you most want in life and what you most need for your highest good. Suspend disbelief and negativity as you do this so you begin to feel that your highest goals are truly accessible to you. Picture yourself attending POWER and using it to create these things that are important to you.
- Begin a journal and record significant thoughts, feelings, experiences, and dreams, especially those relating to manifesting your highest goals.
- Call with any questions you may have: 612-840-1901 and with any assistance needs you may have around transportation or other obstacles to your attendance. Lynn and the assisting team will do what we can to help.
- Know that you deserve a peak life experience! Giving yourself the opportunity to attend POWER now instead of later can produce dramatic results in your work, health, relationships, and other areas of life. So if you feel a desire to do the intensive now, don’t postpone it!
You will be asked to agree to the following ground rules early in the workshop. Familiarize yourself with the ground rules and be prepared to agree to them or ask for an appropriate exception from Lynn.
- POWER meets in sessions of roughly 2-3 hours, separated by breaks. Starting times each day are exact. Ending times are approximate. At the start of each session come into the room promptly, as soon as you hear the entry music. Be in the room before the door is closed (about several minutes after the entry music starts) and remain in the room until the next break.
- Attend all sessions on all days of the workshop.
- Keep confidential other participants’ sharing and experiences.
- Do not drink alcohol or use illegal mind-altering drugs during all days of the workshop.
- No eating, drinking, smoking, chewing gum, writing or using cell phones (unless otherwise instructed) in the room while the workshop is in session. Please keep cell phones turned off during sessions.
POWER is offered to you unconditionally with no set fee or required minimum payment. The typical per person average payment for this workshop has been between $800 and $1200. You will be asked to decide what you wish to give near the end of the workshop. You are given complete freedom to determine your own payment and what you choose to give is confidential. There is no pressure to give a minimum amount. Typically, individual payment amounts range from 0 to thousands. Only you know what the right amount for you is. This payment process is an important part of the workshop curriculum, which includes examining and healing our relationship to money. Believing that you “can’t afford it” is never a valid reason for choosing not to attend.
You may choose to pay in full with cash, check, or credit card at the end of the workshop, or you may pay over an extended period of time by giving a series of post-dated checks or a credit card subscription payment. You are asked to complete whatever financial transaction you wish to make on the last day of the workshop. There’s no need to decide the amount of your donation until Sunday. We would like you, however, to come prepared on the last day to give in whatever way works best for you by bringing cash, checks or credit card.
A $150 deposit is required to register for POWER. This deposit represents your commitment to attend and complete the Intensive. At the end of the Intensive you may ask for any or all of your deposit back. Your deposit is nonrefundable in the event that you decide not to attend or complete this session of POWER. It is also not transferable to another person or another session of POWER.
Ah, that wonderful time of year after the harvest, when food is abundant and Thanksgiving begins a whole season of eating! Yet for us overfed and diet-obsessed Americans, the season of food can be a time of losing our tenuous hold on sensible eating habits and surrendering completely to more than a month of uncontrolled feasting on rich and sentimental comfort foods.
“But Mom only makes this once a year!” and “It’s only for the holidays…” we tell ourselves, and then in January wonder how that extra ten pounds got there!
If a little cheating on your sensible eating plan morphs into a month-long binge for you at holiday time, consider a different approach, an alternative to deprivation or binging, involving neither guilt nor denial; one that actually results in more gastronomic pleasure than simply eating everything in sight. The secret has to do with replacing quantity with quality and autopilot eating habits with an extra measure of attentiveness.
Conscious eating is all about waking up your taste buds to every sensory delight so that you don’t miss even a second’s worth of enjoyment by falling into unconscious eating habits. It enables you to enjoy your food more while requiring less to feel satisfied.
Binging happens when we’ve stopped paying attention. We may enjoy the first bites but then keep eating to recapture that first moment’s gratification even after the food is no longer delivering. We may eat for reasons other than hunger, to fill an emotional void or to stuff painful feelings. Binging also happens when we’ve developed such a long-term habit of restrictive dieting that one taste of something not our food plan sends us into an out-of-control eating frenzy where we consume enough to hold us through the long drought of deprivation that invariably follows “cheating.”
This holiday plan calls for a softer (in the kinder, not fatter, sense), gentler you. It involves putting down the whip of guilt and discipline and easing up on food restrictions while simultaneously paying more attention to the whole experience of appetite, craving, and satiation. It entails eating exactly what you want exactly when you want, thinking of all foods as equally “good.” This isn’t permission to binge. Rather it’s a challenge to go out of your way to feed yourself exactly what you really want even when eating what’s readily available would be easier. It’s about treating yourself to what will give the greatest possible eating pleasure instead of “treating” yourself with whatever great quantities of sugar and fat happen to cross your path.
This approach isn’t for everyone (and please don’t substitute my suggestions for your doctor’s counsel), but if it’s appealing to you, consider devoting the holiday season to making every eating experience a conscious one where you eliminate as many distractions as possible, like TV, reading material, and eating on the run, in order to savor every bite.
Make eating a meditation: before you put anything in your mouth, become quiet and relaxed, take several deep breaths and say to yourself, “Everything I eat turns to health and beauty.” You can do this even at the holiday table with family and friends. Especially with family where the temptation may be strong to stuff down childhood feelings with another serving of pie. Disconnecting a bit inwardly and putting your attention on the food, your body, your nourishment, and the experience of pleasure can help break the knee-jerk, stuffing-family-feelings-with-food habit.
As you take a moment to be with your food before you consume it, picture it being easily assimilated by your body and turning into health and beauty. Eat slowly, paying attention as you chew and swallow. Stop the minute you feel the first sensation of fullness. If you’re full but can’t stand the thought of leaving all that yummy food on your plate, ask for a doggie bag. After eating, sit quietly for a moment, relax, and take some deep breaths. Imagine a feeling of comfortable fullness and lightness in your body. Imagine that your stomach is filled not just with food, but with peace and well-being that radiates soothing sensations throughout your body.
Don’t eat again until you feel the first sensation of hunger. Then eat immediately, but only until you feel the first sensation of fullness. Pay attention as you eat, chew well, and really notice how food feels in your stomach and what the sensation of fullness is like. Every time you feel hunger, ask yourself what food you most crave. Feed yourself the food or foods that are just what you want. You may find yourself craving previously “forbidden” foods at first because enforced restriction can, in and of itself, create cravings for whatever’s been denied but, as you eat consciously in this way, you’re likely to find yourself satisfied with much less. And, as you eat consciously but not restrictively, you may also be surprised by your cravings becoming more and more balanced. I once saw a perpetually dieting and vegetable-phobic woman, who equated greens with cruel punishment, astonish herself by craving salad after just three days of giving herself permission to eat whatever she wanted.
If you’re tempted to binge, create a healing ritual around eating one of your favorite foods. Set the table, light candles, and eat consciously, savoring each bite. Imagine the food having marvelous healing powers that are making you healthier and more beautiful. Continue eating this way until you feel the first sensation of fullness. (Again, you’ll probably find yourself eating less and enjoying it more.) End by giving thanks for your healing food.
If you do catch yourself eating unconsciously, forgive yourself. Notice what the binge is telling you about your emotional needs. Forgive the eating and address the cause. How are you feeling empty, angry, sad, or scared, and what can you do about it?
After all, the holidays with all their frenetic activity, social obligations, and childhood associations, are prime time for exacerbating emotional eating. As you make a commitment to conscious eating, also make a commitment to self-care. Make a list of other things you can do to nurture and soothe yourself that don’t involve food and give yourself time to do them when the urge to overeat arises. Let conscious eating become just the beginning of a more conscious approach to the holiday season where the frenzy of it all doesn’t override the spirit of celebration and joy.
Messages from our Deceased Loved Ones
Online with Lynn Woodland & Emily Loeschke
7-9:30 PM Central Daylight Time
o Receive messages from loved ones from both Lynn Woodland and Emily Loeschke, both experienced Psychic Intuitives.
o Hone your intuitive skills and learn to connect on your own with loved ones across the veil.
o Discover how helpers on the other side can enhance your life now through guidance, love, assistance and healing.
The “veil” is the ethereal curtain that gives rise to our everyday perception of separateness, limitation and the finality of death. A truer picture coming from mystics, quantum theory, and new research into the mysteries of consciousness shows that
everything is connected, that consciousness exists beyond the physical body, and that the potential of the universe is limitless and just waiting for us to tap it.
This time of year is celebrated as a time when the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest, consequently, seasonal holidays such as Halloween and the Day of the Dead were originally meant to honor and connect with those who have crossed before us.
In this event, you will receive messages from deceased loved ones from Lynn and Emily, as well as learn to intuitively make the connection yourself. These meetings offer more than a resolution to the past. You will discover that you have untapped resources on the other side and that there are helpers wanting to assist you in manifesting the life you desire if you would just reach out!
$50 To Register
Contact Lynn Woodland at email@example.com to receive a payment invoice. Upon payment, a space will be reserved for you in this class. Please note, as this is a space limited event, we don’t offer a refund for cancellation
As fall deepens and light fades, nature is now showing us her “dying” season. In areas where seasons are dramatically distinct, nature goes out with flashing glory before winter gives the landscape a rest. We humans are a bit more apt to go out kicking and screaming.
Many of us fear terrible, painful or lingering deaths over which we’ll have no control. But, the more aquatinted I become with people at the end of their lives, the more I’ve noticed that we tend to die in a similar fashion as we’ve lived: according to our temperament and much more in control of the process than we think. I’ve come to believe that the time leading up to death, far from being just the necessary end to life, is a profoundly meaningful time during which we resolve and complete the deepest lessons of our lives.
Even those deaths that seem like random, cruel blows of fate unbefitting the dignity of a person’s earlier years hold unexpected gifts and, perhaps hidden purposes. Alzheimer’s is one of the “tragic” endings many of us fear and I know of a man whose father developed it shortly into retirement after a lifetime of hard work. He supported five children and devoted himself to a company that didn’t reciprocate his loyalty, firing him when he was nearing retirement age and had been “used up.” Alzheimer’s seemed like a sad finish to the life he’d lived and the person he’d been. It wasn’t long before his middle-aged son had to take care of him like a child.
During these years of illness, the son spent many days taking his father along with him wherever he went and said it was the first time he’d ever felt close to the man. Once he even took his father to his weekly therapy session, and was amazed by his father’s sudden and unusual moment of lucidity: when asked by the therapist if he understood why he’d been invited to the session he responded, “To show my son that I love him.” Then he lapsed back into forgetfulness.
Here was a man who’d never been affectionate or emotionally demonstrative, who devoted himself to what he thought were his duties: working hard for his family and his company. Maybe Alzheimer’s enabled him finally to set down the role of provider and allow some softness into his life that he may never have accepted in his “right mind.” Perhaps, in the end, this was his perfect retirement.
One of the most fearsome aspects of dying is its capacity to plunge us into unbearable pain or disability. I had a close friend who died in her thirties from a life-long degenerative disease. She feared death for much of her life because the course of her illness left people progressively more disabled and in pain. For many years she secretly held a suicide plan for taking her own life before she became too disabled to do so.
She never resorted to it, however, even though her disease did progress as expected. Somewhere along the way she just stopped fighting the pain. Instead of trying to control death from a place of fear, she allowed its mystery to unfold; trusting herself, trusting the process of life. Toward the end, she had many experiences of leaving her body and meeting with “angels” who gave her encouragement and instruction. She also had many deepening experiences of love with the people in her life. She found that in spite of growing pain and physical disability, she loved life more with every passing day. She once reflected in horror that her fear of the unknown had almost compelled her to end her life prematurely, cutting short this richest time of all.
She called me once in the middle of the night and said with much excitement that her increasing shortness of breath, which initially had frightened her, was starting to feel like the beginning of being born—she just needed to push a little harder and she’d be “out.” She imagined her favorite uncle, who had passed away six months earlier, waiting on the other side to catch her as she popped out! The next day, after enjoying her favorite meal of chocolate doughnuts with friends, she easily passed away.
If death is something you think about reluctantly and only with foreboding, consider going into this time of year-the dying season-more deliberately. Decide to become the creator of your death, not its victim. The following exercise is a start.
Exercise: Your Dying Season
Write a story about yourself as a very old person nearing the end of your life. Write this as someone who’s experienced a deeply fulfilling life. As you look back, you see how even the failures and disappointments had a purpose, teaching you something you needed for your next step. You have the perspective of an older, wiser person and can acknowledge your accomplishments, accepting that they didn’t all match your hopes, plans, and expectations. You feel warmth and gratitude for the love you shared with people and, now that many of your loved ones have died, you look forward to making the transition they have already made.
Picture yourself as healthy and vital, even at an advanced age, and your life filled with love, meaning, and serenity. Describe what you do in a day, what you think about, what gives you pleasure.
Continue on to the event of your death. Picture it as you wish it to be. See who is with you, where you are, what the cause of death is, and what the final moment of letting go is like. Describe the experience of releasing your body to a wonderful sense of freedom and joy. Finally, tell how the people who love you celebrate your passing and imagine your funeral or memorial.
Don’t wait passively for death to swoop down on you like some fearsome predator. Instead, choose to go out with the flourish and easy letting go of a fall leaf. Start now, expecting and creating nothing less than the perfect finish to your well-lived life.
Seasonally, September is month of great transition. It’s the end of summer and the fall equinox, which falls in the third week of the month, marks the point at which darkness exceeds light for another six months. Fall encourages a shift in attention from outer directed activity to a more inward focus.
In the growing cycle, fall is when the harvest is collected,the fruit eaten or preserved, and the seeds extracted, while the lush greenery of summer fades. We may want to cling to the last vestiges of summer yet know we can’t keep the dark and cold at bay for long. Change is forced upon us, ready or not, and many of us catch colds in this season as our bodies struggle to adjust.
Psychologically, even though the spring phase of experience, with its rush of births and new beginnings, creates just as much change and stress in our lives as the fall phase of dying away, we tend to associate “birth” with joyous emotions while “death” evokes feelings of fear, sadness, and loss of control. Birth fills our thoughts with wonderful possibilities but death requires true vision and faith to see that, just as every birth leads to death, every death leads eventually to a new birth.
The inner work of fall invites us to look at our relationship to change, our adaptability, and our comfort with endings and loss of control. The spiritual potential of going willingly into this six-month descent into darkness and the symbolic underworld it evokes, is that when we meet our deepest fears head on, we emerge with the deep knowing that, in truth, there is nothing to fear.
September, which merely hints at the darkness to come, is the perfect time to prepare for the descent into winter by shoring up our physical well-being, as the adjustment from warm to cool adds stress to our bodies. Giving some attention to our physical health now can help us through the winter season of colds, flues, and darkness-related depression. What’s more, physical symptoms can give us tremendous insight into our ability to flow with change if we’re willing to understand them as well as treat them.
Even at times we don’t consider ourselves ill, we may still have a symptom or two: chronic allergies, a tendency toward headaches, a pain or weakness in a particular body part, or a susceptibility to certain kinds of illness. Whether we’re dealing with the experience of serious illness or simply the occasional minor symptom, listening to these physical manifestations of dis-ease can uncover levels of meaning and purpose to them that we may never have realized were there.
Our physical symptoms communicate to us in a language filled with obvious metaphors. If we’re willing to pay attention, they tell us a great deal about our needs, imbalances, and our path of healing. The very metaphors we use in speaking often mirror the physical symptoms our body manifests.
I became especially aware of this when I was Director of a Center for Attitudinal Healing in Baltimore and worked extensively with people dealing with physical illnesses. I noticed how people’s pet expressions had a way of literally describing their illness. A woman with cancerous tumors in her leg frequently used the expression, “I can’t stand it!” Someone with food allergies continually said, “I can’t stomach it!” and a woman with skin cancer spoke of things “getting under her skin.”
A good way to understand the language of your own physical symptoms is to consider the metaphorical meanings of the affected body parts and functions. For example, hands are for handling things. If you have pain in your hands ask yourself: are you holding on too tightly in some way? Are you trying to “handle” everything yourself? Do you have difficulty “reaching out” for love and support? Are you having difficulty “grasping” something? If your neck and shoulders hurt are you “shouldering” more than your share of responsibility? Are you being “stiff-necked,” and overly rigid in how you are seeing things? If you are a woman with tumors or pain in your breasts, have you been suckling the world until there is nothing left for you? Do you feel in need of nurturing yourself? Do you feel in some way inadequate about yourself as a woman? If you have heart problems, have you felt “heartbroken”? Have you closed your heart to warmth and love? Have you lost your joy and passion for life? See which metaphors best fit the way you feel.
Addressing the situation indicated by the metaphor can powerfully support and sometimes even alleviate the need for other treatment. For example, during a time when I felt sorely burdened by the pressures of life (“shouldering” more than I could carry, so to speak) I developed a painful “frozen shoulder” condition for which a medical professional prescribed several months of physical therapy. I “treated” my emotional condition of feeling burdened by clearing many projects from my plate and giving myself a highly uncharacteristic several-month break from work. I played more, worked less and made relaxing a priority. As I felt less stressed, my shoulder improved so quickly that I wound up not needing the physical therapy.
Illness is a wonderful catalyst for change. Rather than being an indication of something we’ve done “wrong” as is sometimes suggested in a new-age distortion of mind-body psychology, illness has a way of helping us meet unaddressed and perhaps unrecognized needs for growth. Just like the fall season, it forces change upon us, ready or not. Whether we resist these changes or meet them willingly, illness often gives us permission to explore positive and much-needed options we wouldn’t have allowed ourselves to consider otherwise, ranging from slowing down a bit to completely and permanently restructure our lives.
We can, of course, choose health and embrace changebefore a physical condition forces it upon us, and this can be the best form of preventive medicine. This month, consider beginning the descent into the dark cold of winter by paying closer attention to your body. Let your symptoms tell you when you need to take a “health day” or reach out for help, or ponder the bigger ways your life may feel out of alignment with your highest good. Choosing health in this way usually requires a stretch out of the “comfort zone” of familiar behavior but the pay-offs are well worth it.
Now that we’re well into the summer season, it’s easy to see the steady subsiding of daylight. Yet, while the ebbing of light reminds us that fall isn’t far away, the warmth of August is still all summer. This month is a time of fulfillment: everywhere we look, gardens are producing a perfection of ripening crops and burgeoning flowers. Soon it will all be gone but now nature is a feast. With the darkening of fall so close and the heat of summer so present, more than any other season, this late summer month urges us to appreciate the moment, to “be” rather than strive; to live in the fullness of what is and be grateful.
I always experience a kind of stillness about this time of year. The expansive growth of spring and summer has spread outward nearly to its limit and in August everything seems to stop for a moment as energy, set all in one direction for nearly half a year, approaches a turning point. In the creative process, it’s akin to the final completion of a project, right before the empty let down that precedes the beginning of the next one. By contrast, stillness of late winter is a time of living empty and pregnant with possibility right before bursting into new growth. August is a time for living full right before it all ends.
Chinese medicine relates this time of year to “grounding” and digesting. It’s not enough to work hard and produce a successful metaphorical crop. For health and well-being we also need the capacity to be present in the moment, in touch with the earth around us, and able to take in and digest the fruits of our labor. We need to be willing to receive.
Receiving is a key, yet often overlooked, aspect of empowerment. It’s easy to become so fixed on the goal and the process of achieving that we forget to be receptive. We may even unconsciously deflect what we most want without realizing it. When we often feel burned out, that we’re doing too much alone, that our efforts are greater than the rewards and we’re somehow missing out on the joy of life, we may be forgetting to receive.
It’s an easy thing to forget. Our culture is so goal-oriented and, consequently, future-oriented that many of us have this tendency ingrained to some extent. We get to thinking that our happiness depends upon achieving certain external outcomes such as a successful career, lots of money, the perfect relationship or a nice house, and then we postpone happiness, doing whatever we have to do to achieve our goal, telling ourselves that we’ll get our reward later. And, while we may succeed in getting the external things we aim for, we may never receive the experience of happiness we were hoping for. By the time we reach one goal we may have already formulated the next one and skip right over the joy of having arrived because we’re so focused on how far we still have to go.
Receiving isn’t simply about accepting what we want when we want it, on our own terms. I’ve often seen people think they have no problem with receiving—it’s just that what they want hasn’t shown up yet! These folks are often holding out for the big prizes they’ve set their sights on while deflecting dozens of small gifts each day. I tend to think that God will only give us as much good as we can stand to receive and if we refuse or ignore the small gifts, we won’t be burdened with bigger ones!
If life’s big gifts are eluding you, ask yourself these questions: When you see a nickel in the street do you pick it up and feel richer or do you pass it by, wishing it were a $20 bill? When someone compliments you, do you appreciate it and say thank you or do you look away, make a joke, and say something self-deprecating? If someone offers to buy you lunch, do you graciously receive it, automatically refuse it, or accept it but feel uncomfortably indebted? When you receive presents, do you enjoy them or are you hard to please with gifts? Is your mind so busy with thoughts of what you’ll have to give back in reciprocation that you don’t feel much pleasure in the receiving? When someone offers to help you, do you gratefully receive it or insist that you can manage alone? (Do you assume you can manage alone more easily than with help?) And, when someone loves you, do you feel blessed by this most precious gift or do you retreat in fear? Do you find the love of only a specific few to be valuable and fail to appreciate the many others who care about you?
If you’re starting to recognize in yourself some of these signs of poor receiving, you’re far from alone, but this is the perfect time of year to begin a new habit. This month, start noticing that there is always something to receive from life. Make a point to recognize all the large and small gifts that come to you and receive them fully. Keep a written account of them. Receive each gift as gratefully and openly as you can, letting go of any of your usual methods of refusing or ignoring God’s gifts. The more you cherish what’s offered, the more you’ll find yourself attracting what you most cherish.
And the next time you walk out of doors, take a moment to just give yourself entirely to the sensations of temperature, breeze, smells, and colors. Breathe deeply and let yourself fully experience the pleasure of the moment. If your mind needs to chew on something, simply repeat over and over a phase such as, “I am overflowing with the richness of life.” Making time to pause and appreciate life’s simple gifts may very well help you recognize and open to other quality-of-life experiences that have been passing you by. Enjoy!
We so often see our human condition as set apart from the natural world. Not only has this collective mind set contributed to the serious environmental problems of our day, it also denies us access to a certain down-to-earth wisdom about life. I’ve noticed that the more I pay attention to the cycles of the world around me, the more my own life naturally flows in harmony with the seasons. Just as if some big, unexplainable wave has picked me up and is carrying me, life takes on the ease of floating downstream instead of fighting the current: fall brings endings and opportunities to let go of what I no longer need; winter brings introspection, and spring, new beginnings.
This time of year, when the natural world is growing, flowering and producing lavishly, there’s an easy abundance to life. Things seem to pop into manifestation with little effort. In my classes, this is the time of year I like to give attention to prosperity and abundant living.
This connection between seasonal cycles and personal life may seem like a stretch to many, especially if our human experience bears no resemblance to the outer world. When we’re out of synch, we’re likely to fall sick in the fall/winter months from our inability to let go and flow with change. We become depressed in the dark seasons from our failure to access the inner light of inspiration. Then we don’t have the energy to begin new ventures in spring, and summer finds us in scarcity rather than abundance. A way back to an easier harmony with life is to study the season that best matches our current out-of-synch experience and learn from it.
So, should summer find you in a place of scarcity rather than abundance, much can be learned through studying the sparseness of winter. This empty, barren phase of nature is a concentrating time when energy pulls in and pulls back, in order to gain momentum for the next burst of growth.
In times of financial or other scarcity, we often start worrying, panicking and withholding, which only sows seeds of more scarcity. Because many of us have learned to connect financial prosperity with such large issues as well-being, self-worth, and even survival, when our money supply is threatened we tend to feel threatened in all these other areas as well. We may become so wrapped up in our feelings of fear and powerlessness that we don’t even see how many practical options we have for making less money more manageable. So, an important first step in times of scarcity is to address our state of mind, because action taken from a place of anxiety and weakness is bound to create more of the same.
In the natural world, scarcity doesn’t last indefinitely. A season serves its purpose and evolves into something else. As soon as we begin to think of our experience of scarcity as a “season” we’ve defined it as temporary, and thereby given it permission to evolve into something else. Times of scarcity often precede big jumps forward. Consider how a bow and arrow works: the pulling back creates the force that propels it forward. Similarly, taking a few steps back builds momentum for a big, running jump. How we work with the leaner times in life has a lot to do with what we allow to happen next. They can be very potent launching pads for prosperity and abundant growth if we recognize them as such. The following are some suggestions for making the most of your seasons of financial scarcity.
Dream. As in winter, times of financial scarcity are good times for envisioning what you want to do with more money and with your life in general. Imagine this to be like pouring through gardening catalogues in winter. Just as you have faith that seasons change, feel the same certainty that this financial season will change. Let your dreaming fill you with pleasant anticipation for what the next growing season will bring and use this time to turn within (think of hibernating in winter) instead of externalizing your energy through spending.
Clean house, materially and emotionally. Lighten up. Let go of the past and what you no longer need. Make room, literally and symbolically, for the coming growth and prosperity.
Practice Mindful Spending. Become conscious of how you flow money. Let the lack of excess help you get clear about what’s really important and spend only on that. Try this: all this month, every time you spend even a cent, ask yourself: “Is this expenditure taking my life in the direction I want it to go? Is it enhancing the quality of my life, prospering someone I would like to see prosper or supporting something I believe in?” If not, rethink spending your money in that way.
Become, out of necessity, a good steward of your money, using it in the highest way. This will make you magnetic to more and will also teach you how to wisely use more. This lesson in wise spending may be just the preparation you need to attract a significantly larger flow of money into your life.
Find ways to enjoy life that don’t require money. Become aware of any ways you’ve become dependent upon money for recreation, self-nurturing, self-esteem or socialization. What you create, experience, and how you stretch when the easy crutch of money is taken away may be a big part of why you unconsciously called this season of scarcity into your life.
As you honor this “winter” phase in your life, don’t forget to appreciate the abundance of the natural world. The beauty of summer can be enjoyed for free. Give thanks for the blessings in your life and then, in the coming months of fall, allow something old and unnecessary to die away so that winter can fill you with new inspiration. As you let the wheel of the seasons carry you forward in this way you may be amazed at the abundant life you’ve created by the time next summer rolls around.