Saturday is the Winter Solstice, also known as Yule. On this day the tilt of the Earth’s semi-axis is furthest away from the Sun, creating the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. This is a sacred day that predates Christmas by thousands of years, and is the day where we welcome the merging of the darkest time of the year and the emergence into the newborn light. The word “solstice” comes from the Latin solstitium, meaning “point at which the sun stands still.”
So often we forget the pause, the empty space between tasks, or even the empty space between thoughts. But on Saturday, when the sun stands still, we are reminded to not overlook the pause, but to savour it.
Deep in your consciousness may be an ancestral memory, a part of your spiritual DNA, that still senses the cosmic significance of this day.
And I’d love to share a Winter Solstice ritual that you will help you connect with that memory.
- Gather with your family in your home. Everyone should have a flashlight and a smaller candle. Light a large, central candle that everyone can stand around.
- Go through your house and turn off all the lights, so that there is darkness everywhere except for your candle.
- Gather back to your central candle and then blow it out.
- Pause in the darkness and reflect on the stillness and the celestial pause happening today. Allow yourself to feel how darkness is important for our growth, our evolution. You may wish to share what has been in the shadows for you over this last 6 month period. True consciousness comes from embracing both the darkness and the light.
- When complete, re-light your central candle. Sense into the spark of illumination that is expanding around you.
- Everyone, one at a time, should light their smaller candle from the central candle. Share an intention or desire that you wish to manifest over this next 6 month period.
- Celebrate with some food and music!
On the Solstice the mystical forces of transformation are deeply present. Taking time for ritual, however simple or short can be a powerful way to receive the gifts this sacred day offers.
Today’s newsletter is short. The truth is, I’m pretty exhausted. It’s been a challenging few days – late last week my mother tripped and fell, cracking her pelvis in two places. She is in the hospital recovering and my dad has been home alone and not able to drive. So I’m visiting for a few days to help figure out next steps and support them wherever I can. So many lessons about patience, change, compassion and letting go.
I’m so grateful that I have my practice to support me through the waves of difficulty. Remembering to breathe consciously. Meditating each morning. Being sure to move my body, especially when I sense contraction and armouring creeping in. Visualizing and inviting the healing that is needed right now for everyone.
So on this last full moon of 2019, I invite you to pause and reflect on all the ways your practice supports you during challenges. Can you intentionally call in more of what you need and at the same time, release the habits that keep you stuck? You can keep it super simple: light a candle, center yourself with a few breaths and speak words that both call in and release. And then finally, trust you will receive exactly what you need.
This morning during my morning practice by the river, I was sensing into the power of my energy field as I was connecting to everything around me. In that moment I felt so joyful, grateful and centred. I felt deep within me that this was my natural state of being. It was a moment of true bliss.
And I would like to share this practice with you so that you can also drop into the presence of your heart today.
Begin by giving yourself space from all distractions. Stand up and shake your body for a minute letting of any tension or holding patterns accumulated in your day. Take a few deep breaths in and sighs out.
Connect with your heart centre. In Sanskrit, this is called Hridayakash, the space of heart consciousness. From this space send down your energy into the Earth Star Chakra below your feet , and then send it right into the heart of the Earth, into the centre of Mama Gaia.
When this connection feels present, come back to Hridayakash and send your energy upwards into your Soul Star Chakra above your head, and then continue upwards into the sky and cosmos above. Right to the heart of the Sun.
Allow yourself to feel completely aligned and anchored between Earth and Sky/Sun. And sense that you are a pillar of light between these points. Your energy body strengthening and building like a broadband cable, so that you can receive the energy transmissions from above and below with more ease and grace.
Inhale Spirit. Exhale Matter. Inhale Light. Exhale Earth. Inhale Shiva (the masculine). Exhale Shakti (the feminine). Inhale Vision. Exhale Manifestation. Inhale Sun/Sky. Exhale Earth.
And then just pause, as the pillar of light, the Divine incarnation of you, and simply allow yourself to be.
Have you ever walked a labyrinth? A labyrinth is a walking meditation or spiritual practice that can be traced to many different ancient traditions. The earliest labyrinth designs are more than 5,000 years old. Unlike a maze, a labyrinth has no dead ends or wrong turns, rather its path meanders in and out, eventually bringing you into its centre.
The experience is often likened to walking towards one own core, the centre of one’s soul. As we embark on the journey to connect with our inner being, we take slow, intentional steps. Sometimes we find ourselves closer to our centre – with a sense of ease, embodiment and connection. Other times we find ourselves more in the outer path – distracted, disassociated and busy.
The weaving of the labyrinth mimics and symbolizes the life experience of the practitioner and the inner movements of the psyche. The fusion and flow of dynamic opposites (ease/agitation, contentment/unhappiness, trust/worry, etc), and the ultimate connection and resonance with our inner being, the Divine within.
So the next time you find yourself struggling, pause, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths into your belly and picture a labyrinth in your mind’s eye. See how you, in that moment, may be in the outer spiral – fully experiencing your human-ness and whatever life is throwing at you. Know that this is just temporary. And then see yourself taking a step, and then another, and another…all bringing you closer to your centre.
This month in the Embracing Shakti Temple our featured embodiment of the Divine Feminine is Sedna, the Inuit Goddess of the sea and shadow. She represents thankfulness, providence, nature and abundance. The mother of the sea, Sedna origin story is quite tragic and she became a very important figure in Inuit mythology as the provider of nourishment for both the body and soul.
Sedna also represents our capacity to discover what is in the unconscious. When we dive down into the depths of our inner ocean, we often find a hidden treasure, beneath the debris that we have accumulated inside. By exploring our own inner shadow land, we can discover and reintegrate precious aspects of ourselves. We can become Sedna’s of our own inner ocean.
If you would like to evoke the energy of Sedna to connect to her magic and power, here are a few suggestions:
- The next time you are experiencing deep, big, uncomfortable emotions, instead of dissociating from them or chastising yourself for having them, can you pause and take a few deep breaths? Then allow yourself to feel everything exactly as it is and notice what is below the surface of the emotion. Go into the depths of your experience and just witness what is there. Something powerful might be waiting to be discovered.
- Take a walk beside a body of water and think about everything you are thankful for, as this is one of Sedna’s themes. Bonus points if you can help pick up trash along this walk to show your gratitude for all the gifts that Sedna and wild, flowing water provides.
- Create an altar to Sedna using dark blue to represent the ocean, decorate it with sea shells and Lapis Lazuli, burn Jasmine incense (this scent corresponds to water) and even place a bowl of salt water upon it. As an offering of comfort, you may also want to bring a comb for Sedna’s hair. Meditate at your altar during the full moon, as the water element flows from this lunar division. Be open to her messages, as she may challenge you to embrace your inner self and aspects from within that you normally might ignore.
Home, finally! I arrived back in Canada late last night – jet lagged, travel weary and very happy to fall back into my bed once again. My month away was so nourishing – being by the ocean and jungle for 21 days with an incredible group of women connecting to the earth and our Shakti bodies and then a visit for a final few days with my brother and his beautiful family in Manila.
There are so many insights I gained during my time away, but the clearest call I received was to return home and create more spaciousness in my days. I have this deep sense in my gut that if I can do this, so many other things will effortlessly fall into place.
I always feel some anxiety about returning home from a long trip – the mountain of emails to get through, waiting projects and to do lists. The easy and relaxed flow from being away seems to dissipate so quickly, and before I know it, I’m right back into overachieving mode.
Part of this comes from a long held belief that only hard work yields results. And I like being busy, it feels comfortable and familiar. But I also know that continual hard work and perpetual busy-ness leaves me feeling depleted, overwhelmed, cranky and on the fast path to burn out.
And you know that saying, ‘repeating the same thing over and over again expecting different results is the definition of insanity‘? I’ve been thinking about that saying a lot and know that it is time to do things a little differently.
So here is what I am committing to do starting today:
- Body before business each and every day – at home I start my day meditating with my sweetie and love this ritual we have together. But I recognize that I also need to get energy flowing inside of me through movement, so I will be adding this to my early morning routine.
- Connecting with nature – I LOVE being in nature, but also know that once I get in the work groove, the whole day can pass by and I haven’t gone outside. I’m planning to get outdoors once the kids leave for school in the morning and commune with the natural word in a purposeful way before engaging in work.
- Listen to my body and cycles – as women, our energy waxes and wanes with our cycle. In Bali we had a moon lodge where women could lie down on cushions and rest if they needed to during the training. So instead of powering through my days, especially if I am tired, I’m now choosing to give myself permission to rest instead of work. And to trust that the rest creates the space for increased creativity and capacity in the coming days.
- Intentional eating – over the past month I have been taking at least 5 deep breaths before starting to eat. I would pause and reflect on all the hands that made the food I am eating possible and to thank the Earth for her abundance. I’ve noticed that everything tastes more alive and delicious and it helps me be present with nourishing my body.
- Meaningful is the priority in my schedule – in my daily and weekly planning really ensuring that the majority of my time is invested in what matters to me the most: family, service to my students & community, my body and my relationship with the Earth
There are many other things I could implement to have more spaciousness in my days, but I’m starting small because I know that small steps are more likely to lead to success. And that sustainable wins will inspire me to add even more changes. I’ll keep you posted on what I try next.
So over to you my friend, what do you days look like? Are you ready to join me in making some small daily shifts to experience more ease in your life? How do you find ways to make your days more spacious?
We just completed the second week of our 3 week Earth Priestess Training in Northern Bali and each of us has had the opportunity to create a women’s circle with a theme. One of the things that has felt so alive for me during my time here is the level of embodiment that I am experiencing throughout the day. And so this was the theme I shared with my sisters, and today I’ll give you a glimpse of what I spoke about.
Your body, the vehicle you have been gifted with in this lifetime, is your access point to your life and the world around you. And so, how you inhabit that body literally influences everything.
When we are present in our bodies, we feel connected and integrated. We feel safe to experience the multitude of physical and emotional sensations that are available to us (all of them, not just the ones that we usually prefer). We have more clarity about our lives and we are better able to align with choices that feel deeply connected to the the lives we want to create.
Embodiment for me means feeling at home in my body – that I am able to connect with, notice, listen to, sense into, accept and feel everything just as it is.
Sometimes this is difficult, very difficult. There are hundreds of daily reasons to turn down the volume, to check out, to disconnect, to numb out and to disassociate. It can be very vulnerable to be fully engaged in a our world.
I am certainly not embodied every moment of every day, and having moments of tuning out is part of the human experience. But after many years in my earlier life of being disconnected, I have made a conscious commitment to show up more fully in life, to experience the rich mosaic that this experience offers. And I put in the intention and awareness to expand my threshold to be more connected each and every day.
When I’m challenged, the first thing I do is breathe. Deeply, right into my belly. I squeeze my arms and legs with my hands. I speak some words of appreciation to my body as if she is a separate and immensely valued being that deserves all my respect, love, care and acceptance. And if I can, I dance to some of my favourite music and delight in the amplification of connection and appreciation that somehow magically begins to appear with movement.
And in just a few moments, everything changes.
What do you do to feel more embodied? There are so many easy yet powerful ways to call yourself back home into your body. And I’d love to know what works for you. Just hit reply and send me a note – just this action is embodiment in action!
Holding you and your body in so much reverence.
Greetings from gorgeous Northern Bali. I am here participating in a 3 week Earth Priestess Immersion and Training with 15 other incredible women from around the globe. We just completed our first week and our days here have been nothing short of magical.
One of my observations is that I am experiencing time in a radically different way. Most of us are well accustomed to the linear time/space reality. We experience time as hour by hour, day by day. And likely massively scheduled and full with little space to breathe.
While part of me knows logically that I have been here for 7 days, I have moments where it feels like 3 months, moments where it feels like 1 day and everything in between. While we have a container for our days with scheduled practice and meal times, we are so deeply in our bodies, particularly our hearts and wombs, that my usual perceptions of time have completely dissolved.
You may have also had this experience – where you are engaged in something that speaks to your inner depths so profoundly that you become completely unaware of time passing in its usual way.
What this is, my loves, is the Feminine at play. Shape shifting and time bending your experience.
And it is incredible and so, so needed as a counterbalance in our hectic, overfilled lives.
And while a retreat is beautiful, luxurious and deeply powerful way to drop into relative time (thank you Einstein!) – that isn’t always possible. But you can experience this phenomenon right in your own home.
Interested? Here is my suggestion:
- Book some time off for you – make a promise with yourself to honour your commitment. I’d say a minimum of 3 hours if possible.
- Be sure to tell anyone in your life who may normally have access to you (partner, kids, etc) that you will not be available during that time and to not be disturbed.
- Gather materials for your time bending experience – books, art project, whatever you have been longing to find time for.
- Turn off your phone, or better yet – put it outside your space so you won’t be tempted.
- Create sacred space by lighting a candle, burning incense, playing your favourite music. Take a few moments to meditate and call in your intention to experience time as relative, expansive and open.
- Be curious about what is possible and enjoy!
The more you surrender to relative time, the easier it becomes and the more powerful the shifts in your life will be. One of the commitments I am personally making when I return back to Canada is to make a radical shift in my habits to consciously choose to experience time in this Divinely Feminine way.
So over to you! How do you feel you can change your experience of time?
This month in the Embracing Shakti Temple our featured embodiment of the Divine Feminine is Freyja, the Norse Goddess of the passion and sex. Considered to be the “it girl” of the Aesir Gods, she knew how to party! Loki the trickster god accused her of sleeping with all of the gods and elves and while this was probably true (she was all about pleasure seeking) she has a lot of other powerful credentials.
Freyja is a woman who owns her own sexuality, and loves as SHE chooses, not as others would tell her she must.
Freyja is the patron goddess of Norse magic, chief of the Valkyries and carer of the heroic and noble dead. A lover of travel, she would sometimes take a ride in her chariot pulled by two cats. The pagan festival Beltane is held in her honour, along with “Winter Nights” October 14-15th for what is known as Freyja’s Feast, which marks the end of the harvest, and brings focus to the bounty by honouring her.
If you would like to evoke the energy of Freyja to connect to her magic and power, here are a few suggestions:
Cultivating a peaceful and loving relationship with yourself, helps your abundance flow. Every day for a week, take a post-it note and write one thing you love about yourself on it. Put it in random places throughout your house, like a mirror, fridge, etc., so you continue to see these messages of self love.
Erotic poetry and art in the form of an offering to Freyja has been said to assist many with finding acceptance within ourselves and others for whatever form of sexuality we identify with. Pull out your pens, paper, paints and create whatever comes to mind!
30 day masturbation challenge!! Before you cringe, realize that regularly masturbating can vastly improve your relationship to your body, increase your orgasmic potential, help you develop better confidence, decrease stress, support healthier societal attitudes about female pleasure … and it just feels so good! No shame allowed here! Can you do it for 30 days in a row?
Is Freyja a goddess that you feel a special association with? Do you have a practice that connects you to her mysteries? Please head over to my Facebook page and post away!
Breathe deeply. I’m sure you have heard these words spoken many times before – whether it is during a yoga class, on a walk in nature or even to yourself in a forced moment of pause so you don’t lose it on your kids.
The breath is THE tool that can instantly transform any moment.
Human beings are unique in that we can breath both automatically and volitionally – meaning we can make a conscious choice of how and when we decide to breathe. And the ability to bypass automatic breathing has some pretty incredible effects:
- improved focus, concentration, calmness and emotional ease
- additional synchrony between brain areas
- access to parts of our brain not normally available under conscious control
And deep conscious breaths can actually change the brain! The performance of the anterior cingulate, premotor, insular and hippocampal cortices are all enhanced – meaning that our self-awareness, perception, decision making, memory and access to empathy and our emotions are all greatly improved.
My practice with the conscious breath has created seismic shifts in my day to day life and opened portals into new levels of awareness and depth in my relationships.
Interested in also experiencing this? Why not start right now. Sit tall. Relax your body. And take a few deep, full, expansive, life affirming breaths. How does it feel? What do you notice?
Can you make this a regular practice in your day? Here is a Pro Breathing Tip – schedule 2-3 one minute meetings in your day with yourself in your phone. Set the Alert at the time of the event and put the repeat to Daily.
And after a couple of days, send me a note and tell me what you’ve experienced. I guarantee it will be incredible.