We Are Grieving Together

In the past week, I have been using the lens of “The Grief Process” when looking at the current chaos in our nation and around the world. I find an understanding of grief gives a vantage point that adds self-understanding, compassion and hope to my experience.

As I acknowledge my own feelings of loss, denial, bargaining, anger, and depression I can stop looking outside of myself for reasons why I am off balance. I can pull back from looking for someone to blame or someone to come in and put life back to how it has “always been.”

I find compassion in seeing that we are all experience multiple losses. There have been over 150,000 deaths in this country which are being mourned by family members, friends and co-workers. There are individuals and communities that have lost their economic base and financial ability to meet basic human needs. Still others have watched long years of preparation hit the wall of there being no way of continuing forward along the old course to their aspirations and dreams. We are going through this grief process together. Each of us has our own unique mixture of losses, but we are all riding the waves as individuals and cultures.

I find hope, because I know grieving is a process that leads to healing. It is messy, unreasonable, uncontrollable and unpredictable. Even so, history shows us how the human family has moved through grief in all its forms and intensities. All of us will know grief sometime in our lives. It is part of our common human experience.

We are all in this process together. Each one of us is experiencing loss in a unique way because of our cultural, economic, psychological, spiritual and physical setting. Not to mention our specific gifts, strengths and outlook on life. Every day, some people are raging with frustration and others have pulled the covers back over their head not able to get out of bed. Some are busy trying to get other people to behave in a more controlled and logical manner, and others are banging off the walls not knowing which direction to turn to find solid ground. Multiply the emotional turmoil of one grieving person by millions and is it any wonder that we are crashing into one another and finding it hard to find balance.

We will make it through the grief. As individuals and cultures we will begin discovering the small steps that allow us to walk forward into a new was of living. It will not be smooth or quick, but it is inevitable. In the meantime, we are all sharing this most human experience of grief. We are all grieving together.

 

The Speed of Change and Healing

Change and healing happen at the speed at which we are willing to see the truth, accept the truth, and find the courage to live that truth, regardless of the complexities it presents. Caroline Myss spoke about this concept in one of her workshop “Entering the Castle,” from 2009, and it resonates with me.

As we long for healing from CoVid 19, one of the challenges in this country is that there is so much Truth that still needs to be acknowledged and accepted. We will not begin to heal until we stop viewing other people as enemies to our way of life. One place to begin is to stop calling other people by names that are meant to divide us.

I am also choosing to look within to see the truth of how my own thoughts and perspectives add to the fear and alienation I see reflected in our culture. I am working of becoming one who tells the truth; to myself, about myself, and to other people. Living with integrity requires having the courage to call my perspectives into question. If I am to live from the belief that all human beings are equal and worthy of respect and honor, I have to release all that makes me feel different from and superior to other people. Each of us is unique and worthy of being seen as a individual, rather than being classified and dismissed. I am a work in progress, and the process is worth the effort.

Blessings and Peace to you all.

 

Qi Gong as Moving Prayer

My daily physical practice has also become a spiritual practice for me. Using Lee Holden’s Qi Gong course on Flow, I begin with stretches and then add prayer as I do what he calls “slow flowing movements.” In the video I share the mini-prayers or mantras I use with each of these movements:

 

Soaring Crane:
I open myself to the love and light of the Cosmos.
I offer myself back in service to the Web of Life.
I receive the love and honor of the human family.
I give back to the human family, love and respect.

Great Bear Swimming:
Gathering the healing, light, and creativity of the Cosmos.
Offering it to the whole human family.
It fills my own being as I offer it on to all humankind.

This is one way I embody being a vessel through which love and light flow to all beings.

Returning to Heart:
Drawing in the wisdom and the energy of Cosmos,
It scatters throughout the Web of Life.
Gathering the sacred light of the Universe,
I feel it raining down on all life, throughout time and space.

Single Whip:
All living beings love Mother Earth.
Mother Earth blesses all living beings.

My soul draws me into union with the Divine.
The Divine guides all aspects of my life.

Gathering your energy back to yourself:
Aligning the sacred nature of all of life with your own inner integrity.
Coming into the present moment.

Movement is prayer. Prayer is movement. We all breath together.

Getting Ready for School

We do not know how all of the factors will come together for children and teachers returning to school this year. I do not want to try to convince anyone of the relative safety or risk of children being in the classroom, since every setting is unique.

Being faithful to my own inner guidance that we are not ready for children to be back in the classroom, I turn to two responses. First, the spiritual practice of being light, healing and nurture to the whole human family to bring us all to a more whole way of life. Second, to share a few ideas for outdoor and other settings for teaching.

 

Beacons Through Time and Space

starryskyOver the past few weeks, I have been waking up in the middle of the night or very early in the morning. For me this waking comes from my spiritual ancestors inviting me to have time with the stars. This morning, it was 4:30 and I was just in time for the last bright planets in the dawning light.

Stars are beacons through time and space, showing us a process happening millions of years ago, so far away that the numbers boggle the mind. They have been shining on this planet all of Earth’s lifetime, linking us in their light with all living beings, everywhere.

I have had several shamanic journeys that included messages about the stars. One of my favorites was to a circle of people, sitting under the broad night sky in early aboriginal times in what is now Australia. One on my helping spirits took me there to show me where stars come from. As I watched, each individual began with a gesture near their heart that brought out a thread of golden light. They each worked this glistening substance in their hands, rolling it into a ball. Next, they used the same gesture at their brow to draw a strand of light from their mind. This was wrapped around the ball to coat it. Finally, they drew light from the area of their navel, and as they stirred it at the surface of the ball, it became a swirling light within it. Finally, when all had finished, they held the ball of light in their hands for another moment, and then gently tossed it into the sky, where it remained as a new star.

I was told that the light used did not come from the individual, but through them. The light of the infinite love of the Universe from the heart; the light of ancient wisdom and insight from the mind; and the light of connection to deep integrity and original purpose from the navel are brought together in each star. They are placed in the sky to offer illumination, inspiration and guidance for all future generations.

The other day, during a drumming circle ceremony, I received another star focused journey. I had been feeling overwhelmed by all of the teaching, information, and spiritual practices from various traditions which have filled my last couple of months. In the journey, I was again led out under a star-filled sky and invited to look up. I was told to remember that each of the billions of stars holds light, love, wisdom and purpose as gifts to humankind. Right now, we need as many of these gifts as we can receive to help us navigate the current transformation of our way of life. “It is okay to let your mind boggle,” my guide assured me. “What you need to take in will resonate within your soul. Let everything wash over you and then turn inward to see what is yours to live from your heart.”

In that spirit, I write these words and share these images. These are overwhelming times, but we are not alone. The love and light from throughout time and space are here to guide us safely as we find our way ahead, one step at a time.

Canyon Land Ceremony

Canyon at SunsetI would like, in these days of turmoil, to offer images and ceremonies that I have received through my shamanic journey practice. Shamanic journey is an ancient way of leaving the ordinary, problem-solving mind behind and finding the deeper wisdom of the timeless non-ordinary realm. I am often surprised by the beauty, love and grace of what I experience. I hope that what I share gives you encouragement along your path.

This first ceremony came as an invitation to release what I felt needed to be forgiven in my life. In these days, I am glad to be able to return to this place to find courage to face my fears, suffering, shame and regret at my complicity in the perpetuation of prejudice and inequality within the human family.

My notes from Canyon Lands of Healing:

This journey took me to a glorious canyon of red rock, etched and textured to catch the sun. We were at the base of the canyon and there was a gathering of indigenous people around a bonfire..

There were drummers and dancers, but my focus was drawn by a woman elder, who fixed me with her eyes and invited me to a smaller circle – a mixture of people of all races. She was my partner, while there were pairings of each seeker with Elders of the People. She told me that this ceremony is available to anyone at any time. All seekers are welcome and those who have held this space and performed this ritual for eons, work beyond all time and space.

The purpose of the ceremony was to allow me to pour out my sense of shame and embarrassment – to ask for forgiveness for my failures in life. This was actually done very quickly and non-verbally. I just looked in her eyes, and she could see all that I was releasing. It was not the snapshots of memory, but the feeling states that go with them that were the outpouring. Her eyes remained calm, accepting, understanding. She did not interrupt, it was purely my process of revealing the pains of my soul to her. She was there to listen to it all – to let me pour out my whole story of myself and of my need for forgiveness. I sensed that she would have remained there with me for lifetimes if I had needed her to.

When I was at last finished – all shame, humiliation, penitence, sense of abject failure having been revealed, she invited me to sit in the circle with the other seekers who had had this same experience with their own listening Elder of the People.

Several figures came forward carrying empty wooden bowls their hands. One of them came to me and held the bowl near my heart. I watched as what I had released poured into the bowl as a thick, rich rust colored liquid. At first I thought it was blood, but I was assured that it was just the color of my sorrow/shame. As it poured from me it became a paint or pigment. The other seekers had similar experiences, with each one’s heart releasing a different colored essence: a variety of the red, rust, sienna, orange, gold and tan that are familiar in canyon lands.

Each of these figures then took their bowl of pigment, and flew to the walls of the canyon, high above our circle and began painting minute details that added to the richness and texture of the canyon walls.

We were told that what we released with shame, would add to the glorious beauty of sunrises and canyon walls and wildflowers in the ordinary world, as it did here. Our released energy was transformed back to its original creative state to become a rich gift to the worlds above and below.

Whenever I imagine myself back in that place, my wonderful Elder of the People is there to me. I look into her eyes and know that I can not lie to her, and that I will hear the truth in whatever I tell her. And then the bowls appear and the pigment emerges and the painters use my dross as luminescent paint to add another subtle touch of vibrancy to the canyon. As I face the truth of my own heart, I add beauty to the world.

This can be a journey of imagination for you any time you are ready. I wish you a blessed experience of truth and healing.

Reconnecting

IMG_6230For a couple of months now, I have been in an intake mode in my life. I have listened to two or three hours of inspirational material each day, including the Avalokiteśvara chant from Plum Village and lectures by Jean Houston, Marianne Williamson, Caroline Myss, Thich Nhat Hanh, Sandra Ingerman and Lee Holden.

Jean, Marianne and Caroline have emerged in my life since January. They share a spirituality and perspective of us all being “One living breathing spiritual, biological and environmental organism.” Their lectures give me new words and images to use as the current shift in human consciousness makes some of my old ones wobble.

Qi Gong has taken on new depth for both Bill and I. Its meditative nature is emerging as I find the movements expressing the patterns of nature and the energy which unites all living beings. Images of the life energy and the love of the universe flowing into Mother Earth and from Mother Earth outward to nurture the web of life, are now part of my movement practice.

I have been doing daily drumming and journey practice. (I always hate to say that I do something daily, because once I release this to the world, there is usually a counter pull and I stop doing that particular thing for a while. You probably know that experience.) Sometimes it focuses on “Welcome and Tender Release,” which I wrote about in April. Other times, I add my drumming and singing to the vibration of all who are doing ceremonies for healing and renewal. I have begun doing a brief shamanic journey each morning before getting out of bed, to seek guidance for the day. This morning the message was, “Look with a long view.” And “It is time to go back to writing.”

From the outside, these weeks of “stay at home” look much the same as our life before. We had been hiking with a group once a week, taking occasional excursions to Medford or Klamath Falls, and making more frequent trips to “pick up a few things” at the store. I remember in January not being sure how I would keep a commitment to use the car only 5 days a week to ease our carbon footprint. Now, I go out to the grocery store once every 10 days, and make one other trip out each week to walk/hike and do errands.

On the inside, this time hit me at a soul level. In the early days of the crisis, I was nearly exuberant with the possibilities offered by the whole world being forced to pause and breathe.  Bill decided to create a “retreat in place” until the end of the year to aid him in turning his focus from the outside world to his inward journey. Our practices are different, but we have the same goal: to allow the spiritual nature of life to sink from head and heart, into bones and blood. My life has been leading to this moment, but not in terms of some special outward gift I could offer to others. Instead, my life-long spiritual journey has led to a new call to trust the mysterious and unexplainable connections of Web of Life and Web of Light.

I can not define that for you because I am only starting to discover it myself. I sense that it reveals itself to everyone in terms and images with meaning for each one, so there is no need for me to even try to describe the indescribable. For me it is  “Earth-centered living,” rather than ego-centered living. It calls me to remember my place within the flow of the love of the universe, and rejoicing in being a single cell in this amazing organism which breathes together throughout time and space.

I cannot promise to write often. I cannot promise that I won’t post something every day. I just do not know. That may be part of the shift. I feel less in charge of planning the course ahead and more at ease allowing this whole glorious being of Earth to heal me of my separateness and teach me the ways of love.

I would love to hear how your journey has been unfolding in these unusual times. Please use the contact link for your comments and sharing.

Images of Springtime

I wanted to share with you some pictures of Springtime at our home near Mount Shasta. This time of Stay-at-home has allowed us to move from late winter into glorious springtime, which invites us to work on some projects, tend the land and enjoy the life and beauty of this place.

Rock Garden BillOne of Bill’s projects has been constructing a rock garden near Salvia in Rock Garderthe cabin. He loves interesting rocks and this is the kind of space he enjoys creating. With the addition of a few flowering plants from the back meadow, there is now more color at our doorstep.

 

Bill Qi Gong 1We had long known of Qi Gong’s roots in Taoist practice, but recently learned, that its origins spring from shamanic dance. It’s slow, flowing movements enhance the movement of energy through the body, and connect the heart and mind with all of nature. I love doing my afternoon Qi Gong under the trees and feeling rooted to the earth and lifted by the sky.

Nancy Holding up the sky

We had a week of good rain and now that the sun is out there are tiny wildflowers among the grasses. I feel like there are a dozen expressions of life volunteering in the Water can and flowerscorners of the yard and throughout the meadow-like field.

Grasses and Flowers

But of course, when the rains and sunshine mix, there is also the need to cut the grass. Mower BillThis is Bill celebrating the arrival of a new electric lawn mower. It is much easier than the old push mower. It may be hard to keep him from trimming the lawn every few days.

Stay well. We send our love to all of you.

Bill and Nancy Martin

Congratulations to Michelle

Welcoming and Tender Release

Regeneration artThe rituals which support us in our connection with ourselves, humankind, and all of Creation remain fluid and changing, like the position along the horizon where the sun first appears in the morning sky. In recent days, my morning and evening practice has grown to include rituals of loving greeting and tender release of what is entering and leaving our world.

As the days grow longer and the mornings warmer I  spend more time outside between dawn and sunrise. Most mornings I begin with singing my love for the land, water, air, sunlight and the love within all living beings. The individual verses grow longer as I express gratitude for all of the expressions of nature; the flow of change as well as the gift of clean water; wind as breath of life and of spirit, and sunlight which enlivens heart, body  and mind.

A few of days ago, I returned to a place I have visited before in shamanic journey. The Grandmothers are sitting at the edge of the Void; the place where embryonic thought energy enters the flow of creation to take on tangible form. They sit cross-legged with their skirts in the edge of the viscous semi-liquid of the Void. Here the tiny “about to be” energies swim into the basket of their skirt and pause to experience their blessing before they move forward into being.

Following their example, I lift an “about to be” up and kiss it with great tenderness. I sing joy to it and allow light and love to flow from my heart into its being. I then release it into the Void to continue its journey into whatever form it will take. These are not my thoughts, and I do not recognize anything about what they will become. My task is simply to add light and love as they begin their earth-bound journey.

I have returned to this practice because my focus has been captured by what is being released from our lives, and all of the life that is leaving the Earth. At the beginning of the day, it is important to bring my focus on what will emerge beyond this current crisis. There is an endless circle of becoming, taking form, expressing one’s gift, and leaving this place to return one’s energy to the Sacred Source of all new becoming. It helps me find my balance to acknowledge that this cycle continues, like the phases of the moon and the turn of the seasons.

In the evenings, I go back outside at the time when many are joining in solidarity in the Howl of sorrow, grief, loss, loneliness, mourning for what is dying in our lives. I sing to prepare and then do a ceremony of Honorable Closure. My drumming helps me journey into the unseen world where ceremonies are held to insure that every living being, every expression of creativity which leaves this world is acknowledged and honored. Before it leaves, each energy being receives deep gratitude for what it has added to the beauty and diversity of this world. To all that are leaving there is the tender blessing for a loving and joyful journey home. At the end of the ceremony, I add gratitude for all of the living beings who remain here in these difficult times. All of us make our unique contribution to this journey of becoming.

These two rituals form good bookends for my day and help me hold my focus. In these days, deepening my love and relationship with all living beings is the key for my life.

We can all share these rituals, whether using shamanic practice or imagination. First, quiet the chatter of the mind and ease the tension in our bodies. This can be supported by singing, dancing, doing movement like Qi Gong… for about ten minutes. Then, leaving habitual thought patterns behind, we move into a place outside of time and space to remember our place within the Web of Life. We remember that at our core, we are love and light, and from our core we bless all of creation.

I hope you will try this in the days ahead. Please write, either in the comment section of this page, or to me at earthcenterednancy@gamil.com to share your experiences.