Blog: Giving Thanks to our Body’s Communities

 

 

 

I began my journey with yoga in the mid to late seventies, a time when the ecology movement was just beginning. I had to travel to a YMCA to get to a class on a gym floor. I was taking tap and jazz dancing lessons at that time. My teacher was on vacation so I did the 30-day routines, following the instructions religiously. When she returned and I resumed classes she couldn’t get over how limber I was, somehow different, even my breathing was better. She asked what I had been doing. Not much except I was given a yoga book and decided to do the program while waiting for her to come back. She was impressed. I was too. I didn’t realize there could be a difference between traditional dance warmups versus yoga but there was. This feedback and observation have stayed with me ever since.

Years pass and I became a lecturer at the local University and incorporated my basic yoga routine from those first classes in each of my holistic studies classes. Athletes from basketball players to soccer were often inflexible. Athletes train for their sport and those muscle groups works really well but what about the rest of their body? Hamstrings were tight, backs couldn’t bend well. So many students commented on how much better they felt after a yoga class. Athletes were awakened to the fact that though they were good at a sport their bodies were not in as prime condition as they thought. This led to discussions and I only hope to inspiration for these young adults to value their body differently.

During this time I came across Mantak Chia’s book Awaken Healing Energy Through the Tao. He reminds me of the importance of respecting our body in its totality, not just a machine that we prod on and on. Every organ system is a community of cells, a neighborhood if you will, that functions in harmony with every other system creating an intricate interplay between all parts, united to serve the whole. When we are young, we give the body little thought except for cosmetic reasons or athletics. As we get older and see how the body can run down, we may step up to the plate and take better care. Often, as I have seen in my nursing career, folks often wait until an alarm bell sounds before making changes. We all do this, get disciplined, life interrupts, then we go back to our habits again.

This week, my podcast guest, Eaglemoon Raes, reminded me of Mantak Chia’s meditation, one that asks us to focus on each organ system and give thanks to that community.

Meditation:

truthseeker08 / Pixabay

    1. Sit quietly
    2. Place feet on the floor, back comfortable, breathe
    3. Bring your awareness to your heart. Feel your heart’s love.
    4. Feeling this love, focus your attention on each organ system: brain, eyes, ears, nose, mouth etc. all the way through your body.
    5. When done bring your awareness back to your breath and give thanks for your breath of life.

“These vital organs are intimately connected to our mind. Our body is the filter for all our perceptions, feelings, thoughts, as well as the storehouse for our memory, our very sense of identity.” (p. 21, Awaken Healing Energy through the Tao, by Mantak Chia)

Giving thanks for our bodies seems a timely reminder. Enjoy.
Remember all comments and shares are appreciated.

Judith

 

 

 

 

Blog: An Attitude of Gratitude: 3 Simple Steps to Take Today

 

 

My Native American elder friend, Grandmother Kitty, Nakota Sioux, who has passed, would often remind us to do everything with ‘an attitude of gratitude’. Being grateful for every aspect of our lives ‘in the moment’ shifts something deep within. Is it easy? Sometimes yes and sometimes not. We have to redirect that which bothers us for just a moment and when we do, our breath becomes our ally.

I woke up today realizing how the sun is traveling the morning sky differently from just one month ago. A kingfisher clicked across the backyard while other birds quietly sang their morning song. I usually begin my day with a warm glass of water with lemon juice. I felt grateful for the clean water I am able to easily drink. And that took one minute, maybe a few breaths of awareness.

Cultivating a mindful practice takes some diligent effort. Yet feeling grateful for something, our car, our job, our family, for being able to get up and walk where we choose and everything in between gives us an easy starting point. So here are 3 easy reminders:

  1. Choose to be grateful for this moment.
  2. Pick one area: grateful for the drink in hand, the food on your plate, your family. You get the picture.
  3. Focus on your breath, taking one inhalation breathing in gratitude for self and exhaling gratitude from your heart for others.

My podcast guest this week. Deb Sodergren, practitioner, teacher and author and owner of Up Vibrations, encourages her clients and all of us to breath deeply and

studioessen / Pixabay

be grateful. So stop right now and take a deep breath with me. Savor this one moment and breath again with the mindfulness of feeling grateful.

One of my favorite teachers, Caroline Myss, reminds us that every thought, word, and deed carries our name into infinity….pretty amazing!  Today I would like to end with gratitude. A reminder for me and a reminder for you….may the gratitude we feel for our precious life and all we share sail up to the moon and reach beyond the stars and bless all.

Remember, please comment and share. You are appreciated

Enjoy, Judith

Blog: Canticle Farms Community Vision

 

 

 

I am inspired by on the ground, in the dirt, devotion, dedication, and innovation directed towards creating a more collaborative world. And so much is happening as we see and witness one idea, coupled with practical action, take root all around our globe making a difference. Folks, including children, are taking chances, making products, developing innovations that have immediate positive consequences. Isn’t it great?

Father Rohr, the founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation(CAC) in New Mexico, says change happens from the bottom up not the top down.  We know we have problems. We know we not been good stewards of this planet. We know that our conquer and control mentality only feeds the bottom corporate line and fills us with stuff. But many of us, you and I, want something better. We want healthy vibrant seeds free of chemicals and returned to us. We want fresh healthy food grown in healthy vibrant soils. We want our air and water to be clean and pure. We want to feel the vibrancy of nature not just for us but for the next generations. We want a safe world, filled with wonder, beauty. What is our legacy? What will we leave behind? Important questions that I hope inspires you in some way to take action.

My podcast series, Holistic Nature of Us, has enabled me to speak with folks across our country, including Anne Symens-Bucher of Canticle Farms. Canticle Farms is a living, breathing, holistic-based community near troubled areas in East Oakland Cal. She mentioned Johanna Macy, an author who reminds us we are in a time called “the great turning”. She speaks of growing community where everyone: land, species, people, housing, neighbors are respected, valued. The youtube above is short yet timely. We can take down fences, get to know our neighbors again, reach out and help each other today.

Holistic, sustainable, reverent appreciation for all creates a more fulfilling world.

Albert Schweitzer said: ” By having a reverence for life, we enter into a spiritual relation with the world. By practicing reverence for life we become good, deep, and alive.”

Any thoughts, or comments?  I enjoy hearing from you.  You are valued and appreciated. Enjoy. Judith

 

 

Blog: Music From the Plants: Honoring Meditation Garden Day

 

 

 

Can you heart the plants sing? We hear sounds from the meadows and forests with the movement of air. But, did you know that plants make their own music too?

 

 

 

 

“Since the 1970s, Damanhur—a Federation of Communities with its own constitution, culture, art, music, currency, school and uses of science and technology (www.damanhur.org)—has researched communication with the plant world. As part of this research, they created an instrument able to perceive the electromagnetic variations from the surface of plant leaves to the root system and translated them into sound.” Pretty cool, right. Extensive research is ongoing as we develop more and more sensitive equipment to help us hear, interact, understand the complexity of the plant world. If we believe we are one, then we are connected to everything. These tools give us another way to connect with and respect the plant world, to cohabit with them.

My guest this week, Jen Frey, does just that. She mentions Damanhur community, the type of equipment needed and brings this awareness to many events.

Since May 3rd Is Garden Meditation Day I thought I would include a plant song, Red Roses, for you to use for your meditation today. Red Roses, long the symbol of love shares her beautiful music. Remember all comments, and shares are appreciated. Enjoy. Judith

 

Holistic Nature of Us: Beauty Surrounds Us: Meditation for a Garden

Beauty surrounds us, but usually, we need to be walking in a garden to know it. Rumi

 

 

 

 

Spring is here. In the northeast, we see some snow lingering, the day crisp and sunny. We’re almost ready to dig out our gardens, plot our dreams for ripe juicy tomatoes, crisp cucumbers and of course, flowers. Spring teases us with cool breezes, shows a few buds, greets us with new births and fills the air with birdsong. Another season becomes a beautiful reminder of cycles, nature’s rhythms.

 

 

My podcast guest this week, Linda Wiggen Kraft, reminded me of sitting in nature once or twice a day. When I went to wilderness school a few years ago, Native American based, not military, we were encouraged to find our ‘sit spot’, a place where we felt comfortable sitting in early morn, and/or evening, before the demands of the day begin, perhaps when the demands of the day quiet down. I enjoyed my morning time after my children left for school. I made a pot of herb tea, placed a chair just outside my meadow. As Linda mentioned, nature is initially disturbed as we move about and then when we settle in, nature comes back. I marveled at the way dragonflies flit and saw so many different species. Sometimes deer would come in, females with their offspring, munching on the grasses in the late afternoon sun. In the evening bats would fly about, though today they are endangered here and we see very few at dusk. In a sea of goldenrods, mustard yellow flowers hummed with the presence of so many bees, creating a soft symphony.

Sitting in the stillness, being present to our now, quiets us. We feel calmer, more peaceful, sharpen our observation skills and delight in whoever shows up.

Oldiefan / Pixabay

I have heard folks express disappointment when a creature doesn’t show up, but that’s not the point. The point is simply to be within nature’s simplicity. Allow our self a chance to quietly breathe and perhaps be grateful and maybe merge a little bit with our land.

In planning gardens, have you considered doing a short ceremony, creating some ritual that welcomes spring? How about honoring the gift of seeds? After all, they are getting ready to burst into their full forms. We can taste their flavors, smell their peculiar aromas, we can almost taste the sun when ripe.

Today, I want to remind you to approach your gardens, meadows, your landscapes with exuberance, joy, and gratitude. If puzzled on where to plant, what new plants to bring in, sit a minute or two. Engage your senses in the delight of your space first. Walk around, notice the old stems from last year, the bare branches, lifeless grasses. Trust your inner sight, plan it out, roll up your sleeves and dig in!

What rituals do you create for beginning your gardens? Send me brief descriptions. I would enjoy hearing from you.

Thanks again, Judith

 

 

 

Holistic Nature of Us: White Pine Healing Itself, Healing Us

 

 

When you walk into the forest what do you see? Beautiful tall evergreens, strong oaks, and hickories, underbrush? Leaves fill trail paths as do the needles from pines, creating a softer forest carpet to cushion our steps. An animal or a bird may get our attention. We feel more peaceful as if the forest itself takes our tasks, lightens our load at least for the time we are among them.

 

As an herbalist, I tend to look around to see what plants are edible. And while I don’t strip large swaths of bark for medicine making, I remember that trees supply us with food and medicine. Acorns and chestnuts make a delicious flour. Twigs and pine needles make tea filled with minerals and vitamins, and nourishment.

Today I would like to go back to the white pine, Pinus strobus.

Twigs, bark, needles, and resins promote health and healing when used properly. Native Americans would use the resin and combine it with beeswax to seal the seams when canoe-making.

From the perspective of holism, I have another question. How does the tree heal itself? Our Native ancestors observed nature, using nature’s gifts from trial and error, yes but also how nature heals itself. How does a species such as an evergreen survive?

Let’s look at a wound that trees have to handle, a broken limb which creates an open wound. These open wounds on a pine and others expose the tree to different fungi and pathogens by infiltrating the center core of the tree, the hardwood. The hardwood is the largest part of the tree, the middle of the tree. When the living barrier, the Cambrian fails, is penetrated, the hardwood starts to soften which weakens the integral structure of the tree. While limbs breaking etc are part of a tree’s life cycle and they learn to deal with these occurrences to some extent, trees use resin to heal these wounds. The tree uses the resin which not only heals the wound but contributes to their longevity. We see this to some extent in our native forests.

White pines produce resin we think of as sticky, very hard to remove, thick and a problem when dropping on the metal exterior of a car. The US Forest Service tells us:
Resins are plant products that,

  • are not soluble in water,
  • harden when exposed to air,
  • do not play a role in the fundamental processes of the plant, and
  • are generally produced by woody plants.

Resins are produced in special resin cells in plants and are also produced when an injury occurs to the plant. Resins can be produced through the bark of a tree, the flowers of an herb, or the buds of a shrub.”

However, let’s go back to the pine tree. With the loss of a limb, resin seeps in, in an attempt to create a band-aid for the empty spot. It creates a seal and hardens. It is this observation that prompted our ancestors to try resin for sealing as in canoe making and for wound healing.

The dot I hope I connect here is this: we have learned much from nature. If that is true, and I believe it is, why are we disregarding her now? We forget about the forest community filled with so many species each with a purpose and a role. We forget to give thanks for her gifts. We forget to use the gifts she brings. In simple ways, such as tea making we can bring nature home. And, science, field observations, and tests are proving that we have harmed water, air, and soil to our detriment.

Our Earth front cover

Ellen Moyer, Ph.D., this week’s podcast guest, is committed to sustainability and creating solutions.  We can go over the problems again but we’ve done that. Now is time for practical action. Check out her website for a free gift: 55 things simple things you can do right now to make a difference.

What are you doing that reduces your carbon footprint? What about this earth moves you? As an herbalist and educator, I enjoy teaching about her gifts. Whether trees or plants, animals or resources, she offers much. What have you observed in nature that applies to us? We’d love to hear from you.

Enjoy.

 

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