Month: November 2015
As a lot of stories start with Little Bear and I, this one starts in the car.
We are driving to our next destination when Little Bear starts talking in the backseat.
“Hey Mommy. I know what type of bear my little bear is going to grow up into!”
I smile and jokingly said, “A bigger bear?”
I hear him giggle and he responds with “You know that one movie we saw about the land of the giant bears where they eat the salmon in the summer? My bear is going to turn into that one.”
This sense of pride fills my chest as Little Bear and I have watched many a bear documentary – and this one sticks out to him. What makes me all the more excited is that he happened to pick the same species of bear that mine is. The Kodiak bear that I have has been with me since childhood, and has grown as I have grown. My heart melts because my son gets to be blessed with the same experience.
As this pride washes over me, I hear rustling in the backseat. He speaks again, this time remorse leaking in. “I remember when our bears were lost and we found them. And then they became our spirit guides.”
I know why I can hear the sadness in his voice. He has had trouble connecting with his guides.
“Well baby, it doesn’t always work that way. My bear has always been with me, and he has always been there because he is me. I know sometimes it feels like they are lost and they try to find us again – but that’s what happens when we don’t talk to our guides for a while. The less we talk to them the harder it is to feel them. It’s like a muscle, you keep using it to make it stronger. And sometimes” I glared into the rear view mirror, “the baby bear gets lost and comes to my bear when I’m traveling and I return it to you. My bear travels over to you a lot just to check on you. So if you sometimes see my bear, it’s not because he’s lost. I know you haven’t been talking to your bear that much these past few weeks because I keep getting a little visit. And I can tell because you start to get scared more easily when you forget to ask your bear for help.”
This also happens with children when they get distracted (in my experience). Eventually the time will come when Little Bear gets older and I will teach him about mindfulness and introduce daily practices. But for right now we stick to the basics and nail down each lesson as they come.
I’ve been trying to drive the lesson home of relationship. Having a helping spirit is very much like having a relationship. The more energy we feed into the relationship, the stronger that relationship becomes. I’ve been trying to impress that on Little Bear because he saw how many helping spirits I had and wanted to mimic it (which can be done but a lot of care has to be taken). I cautioned him against it but I still gave him the choice to do what he feels best. At one point he had five helping spirits, which wasn’t a bad thing – but it was the fact that he wasn’t deepening his relationship with one, so he found it was easier for them to “get lost” until he found them again. The gift of deepening one relationship is being able to establish trust in the realm of spirit with one friend who you keep going back to. If we blindly trust the information of anyone that comes along, how do we know if it’s the right information for us at this time? By working with one helping spirit and deepening that relationship, we are able to get insight and information that is specifically curtailed to us.
I am blessed enough that Little Bear wants to come to the once weekly journey groups. He loves the opportunity to play with his helping spirits. Since our conversation last week (helping spirits getting lost), he has now only brought up Bear outside the journey group when instead he used to bring up his list of five friends whenever we talked about helping spirits. He still talks about them, but they’re like old friends when he journeys to them.
The quiet of peace floats through the air. A beautiful labyrinth before me. Bare feet on the cold ground. A deep inhale and a gentle closing of the eyes. Where there was once mind chatter, there is now a settling. As the eyes slowly open, a deep inhale starts pulling up the energy from the Earth to settle in the gut. One thing rises to the mind.
As we enter into the month of November, this is the beginning of the hectic holiday season. Amidst the chaos of seeing family members, going to social events, we extend ourselves outward in order to connect with others. Some may feel drained, others may thrive on this chaos. In the Chinese culture, the written symbol for chaos means both danger and opportunity. There is a danger of extending ourselves too far outward, and depleting ourselves in order to make others happy. But there is also an opportunity to thrive in this same situation as well. Going to labyrinth walks is how I find my center, it’s how I “refill the cup” so to speak. It’s for my quiet and my peace of mind that empowers me to want to do a walking meditation. For me, since I find this opportunity to find peace, I choose to focus on the gratitude this holiday season brings up. The family (both blood and chosen) I have not seen in a long time, the food I get to eat, the good memories shared – all of this mulls through my mind as I walk through the labyrinth. I may not always have the opportunity to go, but sometimes I find myself slipping back to the labyrinth in my mind whenever I need a break to recharge.
What is a labyrinth walk, you say? For more information about labyrinths (in case this concept is new) then visit this wonderful and beautifully written blog post by my friend Irene Glasse who hosts once monthly labyrinth walks in Frederick, MD at the UU Church. One of the reasons why I love labyrinths is because it’s a simple walking meditation to get me out of my head. I admit I tend to have a lot of things going on in my head at once, but it’s good practice to empty them. Emptying/Releasing them helps clear the pressure, because thoughts carry energetic weight. There is only one path in and one path out with a labyrinth. Unlike a maze, I can just let my feet follow the path, and allow myself to be in my body and appreciate the thoughts of gratitude that surface. If there is a bad thought or a negative thought, I slide it aside and replace it with something I am grateful for. This helps empty my head, and it helps fill my heart with joy.
I tend to bring my son to labyrinth walks because he gets so much enjoyment out of them. I have taught him how to walk labyrinths as well as polite etiquette while walking the narrow rings (see post if unfamiliar) at an early age. Now that he is older and more connected with his spiritual guidance, the insight he comes out of the labyrinth with is very powerful. There is no right or wrong way to walk a labyrinth. Often times when walking with Little Bear, I find myself either being an airplane or a dinosaur stomping the labyrinth. It works for him because I spend that time being on his level and we laugh together. This brings forth more gratitude. Gratitude that I can raise him in a way that does not squish his curiosity. He is allowed to be himself in these situations, and I’m not trying to force him into a mold.
If I happen to go to a labyrinth walk by myself, and I have trouble connecting because of a particularly stressful day, or stressful month (which has happened before) then I turn to the help of aromatherapy. I don’t need as much help as I did when I first started, but it still helps shift my thinking from my head to my heart. When we breathe in different scents, they connect to the olfactory nerve, which is connected to the amygdala. The amygdala is the control center in the brain that’s responsible for emotions. It can control things such as heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and so many other autonomic body functions. I tend to use essential oils more frequently, but nothing beats labyrinth walk with a garland freshly made of picked flowers or pine branches. I tend to go more for the “grounding” scents. When I don’t have the time to go pick flowers or grab a fresh branch off a cedar tree, I tend to go for cinnamon, cypress, cassia, arborvitae, paolo santo, white fir, or douglas fir. I love speaking to the spirit that is behind the essence of these scents, and I love the way putting a drop in your hands and inhaling deeply can change your focus within seconds so you can get a deeper experience. Working with plants has been a passion of mine, and I love being able to share the therapeutic benefits whenever I can.
For now, I breathe this crisp autumn air and await the next time I get to enact on walking the labyrinth again. For now I walk it in my head filling myself with gratitude for the blessings in my life, but I long for my feet to walk it in order to solidify my practice.
If you are interested in coming to the next labyrinth walk in Frederick, MD – follow this link and I will see you there 🙂
I am very excited to be able to present this months topic for journey group. For anyone who has not attended this journey group or this is your first time being introduced to this concept, visit this link. Once again, you can bring your own journey topics, these are “suggested” journey group topics that go with a theme. You are more then free to journey on your own at home if you cannot attend the group. In a group, it is easier to transition into that “receiving” head space because there are others there with that same intent. When journeying by yourself, it can be hard because it is easier to get distracted. Visit this page, or feel free to contact us for more information.
The topic for this month is going to be based off of the book, “The Four Fold Way” by the late Angeles Arrien. I highly recommend this book (especially if you are intrigued by the topics being brought up in journey group), and there have been many different interpretations and good reviews on these concepts.
The Four Fold Way means to live your normal every day life with a courageous heart. In general, there are four major archetypes which make up the open heart. When moving through life, life calls upon us to act in one of these four main archetypes. If our heart gets clouded with fear because of our wounds or the shadow aspect of ourselves, then the open heart shuts down. Having good intentions is not enough when we are being clouded by fear. Each week we will be moving through these four archetypes to see what exactly they mean to us and how we can heal what’s in the way so we can live courageously. When we live our lifes purpose, we are asked to bring courage to the table every single day. It’s how we over come our fear and live in those archetypes in a good way which helps bring forth our true lifes calling.
Journey Group Outline:
Monday November 2nd – The Healer: Finding the right vessel to live our lifes purpose
Monday November 9th – The Healer: Shadow aspects, how they prevent us from healing ourselves
Monday November 16th – The Healer: Life processes
Monday November 23rd – The Healer: Since this is a holiday week, open suggested topics in regard to the healer
Monday November 30th – The Healer: How do we live the Healer archetype when it is called upon? What’s in the way of that?
More blog posts to come to fully describe each archetype before the actual date 🙂 Any questions or concerns, or to suggest journey topics for the next month, please call/text 571.306.3197 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Artwork by K. Hansen