A Tale of Two Moons

Two new moons, with pretty big effects and yoga events related to them, have come and gone between early October and now.  I’ve been in the depths of Scorpio season darkness kicking myself for not writing a blog about it all sooner, while also trying to practice self love and care. The struggle has been REAL, you guys.

Well, here I am.  Back at it. Work has been crazy and I recently authored a huge biological analysis that left little room in my brain for any sort of creative thought. I’m currently coming out of my catatonic Scorpio/work-related stupor to share some thoughts on these two moons before my draft comes back and I need to enter said stupor again (So. much. math).

There have been high points and low points, as is often the case with any chunk of time, but particularly salient while diving deep within the underworld of the soul as Scorpio calls us to do.  I try to embrace the “darkness” and ride it out., but sometimes it’s a difficult, and lonely path. The only way out is through, right?

Back in early October I had the honor and privilege to co-lead a weekend retreat in the White Mountains with my lovely friend, yogini, and studio owner, Kathleen Pizzello of the Moon + the Mat in Beverly, MA. She’s amazing and running a retreat with her (my first, I might add) was nothing short of magick.  In addition to the trust we put in the universe, the Dragonfly Yoga Barn in Sandwich, NH (we highly recommend them!), and our students, we put that same trust in each other and without very much actual class planning or sequencing, flowed with the energy conjured by the sangha who came with us on this journey. UNreal. As you can see from the photos below, its an amazing space, and the prana flowing through and emanating from every single person on this retreat was palpable.  There were times while I was teaching, or assisting while Kathleen taught that I could feel the pulse so profoundly that I thought it might knock me over.

The new moon is all about making space to cultivate new intentions, so as is the case with most yoga practices and in lunar magick, a release is encouraged in order to make room for new intentions, wishes, and universal asks.  My teacher always said “nobody likes a flabby ask!” I love that. The retreat was during the Libra new moon. Very apropos as we had just passed equinox and were experiencing equal day and equal night, feeling the warmth of summer cling, but the coolness of winter begin to creep in.  There was a lot in the way of “balance” to work with. In addition to “balancing the scales” the true work of full integration of the self was experienced. It was a powerful AND empowering weekend where women shared their experiences, stories, and support for one another. That, to me, is a form of medicine, and a form of magick. The medicine part is the healing quality of the experience, the magick is the transformation it brings forth.


Keep reading after the photos for Moon #2. :)

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 Dragonfly Yoga Barn. MAGICK.

Dragonfly Yoga Barn. MAGICK.

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 My dude Shiva.

My dude Shiva.

 <3

<3

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ANNNDDDD the second moon: the new moon in Scorpio.  Post-Samhain shadow work to the MAX. Without death there can be no rebirth.  We all know this, but man, does it feel REALLY dark sometimes. To honor this cycle and the magick associated with it, I once again reunited with my dream team of The Chaos Factor (my herbalism business with my superpal and bandmate Lauren Recchia), and Dark Moon Tarot, operated by the Supreme Being and Intuitive Goddess, Kris  Gurky. Thus far, we have held events at the Witch House and the House of the Seven Gables in Salem, MA, but were given the opportunity to host this new moon event at the brand new Hive & Forge! Hive & Forge is new to the Salem community, but fits RIGHT in with its eclectic mix of art, herbalism, crafts, and jewelry.

Again, with a new moon, this workshop focused on making space, while exploring the underworld of emotions, habits, and old wounds. The shadow work we do is just as important and powerful as what we do in the light. Without the shadow, we cannot appreciate the light.  Holding space together at Hive & Forge was easy. The participants, owners, and physical surroundings made my job as a yoga teacher quite simple. And during the sacred circle and meditation, the combined intuitive powers of myself and my collaboration mates led the way. Easy.  When you trust and flow, things are just SO easy.

As a result, new moon in Scorpio was pretty kickass.  In circle, I could feel the energetic release come from these women letting go of what was not serving them, and from allowing themselves to go into the dark underworld with Hecate as their guide, and to sift through the roots and weeds that lie on their paths.  They were all FULL IN with the process. I am happy to have held space with my sisters for them.

To seal the circle after our yoga practice and meditation, each person had written down something they were ready to let go of in order to plant a seed of intention with the new lunar phase, and we invited them to burn the release in the cauldron.  There was some serious fire action there for a moment. Energy that needed to leave in order for the new seeds to grow.

All in all very successful and worthwhile.

Following the new moon in Scorpio, I had my final herbalism class of the season in Western Mass.  I’ve learned so much over the turning of the wheel this year. The herbal knowledge has expanded my yoga practice, my teaching, my connections to the earth through green witchcraft.  Come to find out (which makes total sense) that Scorpio season is the PERFECT time to forage roots for medicine making. We harvested yellow dock and dandelion in class. It was so cold out, but absorbing the few short hours of sunlight while contemplating the “underworld” I was digging into the harvest the plants, felt right.  When you think about it, harvesting roots is taking the whole life of that plant. I left a little root and returned some seeds and other plant material as a sign of reciprocity. Its appropriate that the “death” occurs during Scorpio (for she is the queen of death), and “rebirth” is planted beneath the ground and will re-emerge in spring.  

The beauty is in the cycle.

The cycle of life and death, of the seasons, and of the moons we journey through.

Namaste.


 Hive and Forge under the watchful eye of Randy!

Hive and Forge under the watchful eye of Randy!

 New Moon in Scorpio—into the underworld we go!

New Moon in Scorpio—into the underworld we go!

Harvest, Craft, and Shift

As the golden light of late summer shifts into the crisp hues of autumn, the air begins to cool, and our natural focus begins to turn inward to hearth and home.  I find that its a pretty quick transition once we move from Leo to Virgo season. As the light begins to wane to equinox, I find myself NEEDING to organize and clean my space.  Virgo energy, baby. She shows us healing through order, cleanliness, and mindfulness. The hot and frenetic Leo season leaves us tired-the heat, humidity, and constant motion of particles (of all sorts) lowers our energy even though we are “supposed” to be at the height of activity.  It's almost a welcome relief when the light softens, a cool breeze blows, and you tell yourself, “it's ok to stay in and get some shit done.” The options of beach, hiking, motorcycle riding, boating, etc. suddenly aren’t options anymore. Its both sad, since summer is so fleeting in New England, but also a relief.  Now I can do ALL that things I thought of doing all summer long and DIDN’T DO ANY OF!

I certainly DO let a lot of details fall away during the summer. And that’s ok.  It’s how the cycle works. Certain activities that can only be done during summer (i.e., gardening, herb collection, ocean swimming after work) take precedence. Carpe Diem!  When the autumn approaches, the wayward indoor tasks eventually get done.

But honestly, I notice that everything gets a little more relaxed, which is nice.  It’s time to reap the benefits of the harvest! Here in New England, the best surfing usually occurs during September.  We get some tropical swell (FINALLY), the light is still holding on (enough), the lifeguards and beach rules go away (YES!), and the water is warm…  This time is much needed; quiet, restorative, peaceful. A true harvest. Less people on the beaches, less traffic and trash, just us lonely surfers and dog walkers appreciating nature without all the buzz and noise.  The opposite holds true for the rush of tourists that come to the north shore for Halloween season, but we survive.

During this transitional zone between the element of fire and water (summer to fall/south to west/sun at its zenith to setting sun) I feel the unavoidable desire to craft.  To craft in all senses of the word: art, yoga, workshops, food, music. All the projects I left off in the cold months of spring (with new inspiration and materials from summer’s bounty) are waiting for me to return to them. To take them on an inward journey of creativity and inspiration driven by the yin energy of the autumn season.

And that shift is rather magickal.  For new beginnings, fresh energy, and productivity is everywhere and is even born from the darkness.  Our intuition takes us deep into the shift as we move into the shadow side of the wheel of the year. Out of our sojourn back inward, toward the proverbial hearth and home, can come greatness.  So do not mourn the passing of summer, but rather use the new season to your advantage: to do the important internal work that you have left fallow for many months. Harvest the fruits of your labor. Now is the time.

Namaste and Blessed Be. <3


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Healing Old Wounds

Old Wounds.  We all have them.  They are the demons that haunt us. The skeletons in our closets.  The little voice in the back of our heads that insists on reminding us of all our faults at the most inopportune times.  

Yeah...those.

How do we truly heal them? To unequivocally release those wounds in order to return to our true selves.  And even more poignant--what if those wounds are actually the catalyst that allows us to become our true selves? 

I've been asking myself these questions since the new moon in Cancer around mid-July.  I was feeling the crushing weight of old wounds still festering.  As we approach new moon in August, and recently experienced the first harvest of Lammas, I've felt huge shifts in my life.  As soon as I started facing the old wounds, acknowledging them, and feeling some gratitude for how they transformed me, I felt them begin to heal...to disappear...to not matter so much anymore. 

An intention I've been holding close lately in my practices and daily life, is to remove blockages and to manifest energies that allow the return to my true self.  Sometimes I feel like she gets a little lost; when I put on too many different hats, try to do too much, or get worn out.  But I know she's in there.  I know she can still shine. I mean its not easy, but its an intention.  Go big or go home, right? 

But once I began to feel some gratitude as to how the wounds served a purpose, no matter how painful, and how they made me a stronger and more resilient person, their power over my psyche has begun to fade.  I'm a work in progress.  Aren't we all? Healing is a spiral. Sometimes we feel like we are back at square one, but we never really are.  We've always moved forward in time and space, and even though familiar issues and patterns arise, we've still made headway.  We are NEVER starting over in our healing process.  Keep that in mind when you feel hopeless.  And keep yourself open, no matter what, because you never know when those huge shifts and transformations are just going to appear out of the ether.  Because they do. 

<3

Namaste. 

Slowing Down

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” - Ferris Bueller

Ferris reminds us of this motto as he breaks the 4th wall in the eponymous 80’s classic. Who knew how much this statement would resonate 30 something years later in the 21st century where our lives are inextricably connected to social media, cell phones, and computers?  We are always ON. We are always moving fast. And it’s killing us. We are missing everything! Everything that matters anyway (No, someone’s IG post about their brunch doesn’t fucking matter).

Even though we may be sitting still while using these platforms, our minds, and eyes, are moving a million miles a millisecond.  Nature didn’t design us to do this. Although we are masters of adaptation (a good example is engineering our environment to suit us), there are certain experiences that our human bodies, designed by many, many eons of evolution, are not designed to handle at such fast rates of speed.  Like traveling across the world in 20 hours. OR, processing millions of gigabytes of data at warp speed. Or sifting through 8,000 IG posts of someone’s stupid brunch. We are multitasking until our brains are ready to explode. Maybe, if our species is able to out-survive our destructive ways, successive generations will evolve and adapt better than us.  Who can say.

Last week’s new moon had me in a funk.  Usually I love the new moon. It's a new beginning, a start of a cycle, and a time to set intentions.  Well, out of necessity, because work was a shitshow and because of whatever weird energy that has been shifting around us (pretty much everyone I interacted with had similar “shit” weeks), my intention was to slow down.  So far in June, I went on a motorcycle campout for a weekend, rode 700 miles through the Catskills, came back to teach a bunch of yoga classes, all while doing regular life stuff, and dealing with a heavy lift of intense biological analyses at work.  It’s all good, but it’s taxing… It’s currently mid-June and nothing felt like it was going to slow down anytime soon. So when the hell was I gonna “slow down and smell the roses?” Trust me--I wanted to. It’s literally wild rose season and the air is thick with that ephemeral heart medicine and I wanted SO bad to be out in it and enjoying it.  But I wasn’t. I was in a miserable mood. Feeling pulled in 80 directions so that everything I was doing was being diluted because I didn’t have enough energy to give any one thing my all.

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Instead of doors opening by doing a million things and moving fast and working hard, doors were closing.  Mother nature was closing those doors too because no matter how much you want to change outside forces, she ain’t gonna wait around for your schedule to free up.  The roses will bloom and go by. Spring will turn into summer and so forth.

Wake up, Chrissy. Connect and expand--remember your mantra? Yeah, do that.

Anyways, I was in a daze until Saturday morning I began to feel the tension release from my heart chakra...and my shoulder blades.  I worked in my garden, I went foraging for wild rose with my dog (well, she just ate grass and chased squirrels), and I went to the beach and replenished those salts and trace minerals our bodies so desperately need and don’t get enough of. I started to feel more human again.  Like a more connected human. I also set boundaries for myself. I was tired and worn out and I said no to plans even though I felt obligated to do what I was expected to do. But, in order to slow down and be authentic, I had to do what my mind and body asked. I needed to slow down and rest.  So I did. Everything really IS temporary. So the tension I felt last week was bound to shift, even if it didn’t seem like it.

On Sunday I was out in western Mass for my herbal class and that definitely provided much needed time to slow down.  It was hot, so slowing down was absolutely necessary. But, more than that, having limited phone reception, sitting in nature and observing the landscape ecology supporting the plants we worked with, and just BEING, was the heart tonic I needed.  Stagnant energy began to move as I laid in the grass under a wild rose bush. Bees buzzing, butterflies fluttering by...bucolic New England at her finest.

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As we approach summer solstice, which is my favorite time of year, despite some of the weird shifting energy as of late, I keep my intention of slowing down close to my heart.  Receptiveness only comes when we stop and take a look around. Just like Ferris advised. When we slow down, we can hear the whispers encouraging us to open the doors rather than us zipping by at light speed slamming them all shut.

Namaste and Happy Solstice! <3

The Island of the Gods

Bali.  How do I even begin…

My trip to the “Island of the Gods” profoundly shifted my life.  My time there, with 18 incredible souls, stirred from within MY soul things I didn't even know existed, let alone could shift. I cannot express enough gratitude to the universe, the people, my fellow yogis and yoginis, and to mySELF, for making the amazing journey across the planet to this high vibrational zone of PURE ENERGY.

I’ll be honest--all the hype and talk--I didn’t buy it at first.  I’m a skeptic in many ways--I’m afterall, a scientist by academic training.  During the first yoga class in the Shala on Day 2, I felt it--I understood on a profound level what my friends leading the retreat told me--that the island of Bali resonates with such pure prana, from deep within the earth, that you live, breathe, and exist in a different way than before you set foot there. It was palpable.  It was powerful. It was the most beautiful feeling.

After experiencing this energy firsthand, it's abundantly clear to me how the land affects the culture. The Balinese live with intention.  They practice their daily rituals of life with intention. It’s ALL beautiful intention. From making offerings to the gods and goddesses of Balinese Hindu tradition, to bowing to one another in a grocery checkout line, to referring to their colleagues and patrons as “friend.” Statues, shrines, and altars, whether at a temple or in between two storefronts, are adorned with intention: black and white fabric representing light and shadow, with offerings of flowers and incense (and the occasional cracker or cookie), and sprinkled with holy water.  Every day. Offerings on street corners, and in every crevice around the towns… FRESH. EVERY DAY. Because the gods deserve intention.

My visit to Titra Empul, a water temple near Ubud, was sublime.  It was an experience I am so happy I was able to have. The temple dates from around 952 A.D. and people STILL journey to cleanse, purify, and make offerings to the gods. Water fed from a spring is routed into a cobble-lined pool through fountains, where a line of people move through, visiting numerous water spouts while making offerings and asking for what they need, before moving on to the next.  It was a profound experience of connection. To the island, to nature, to the universe. I’m not even exaggerating. I was utterly humbled and fully nourished.

With each morning practice in the yoga shala, I felt more grounded, more connected, and more expanded than I have in a while, maybe even, ever (!).   Us yoga teachers talk a LOT about moving prana, and I’ll tell you, that prana was MOVING; clearing out stagnation, funneling light and radiance into every corner of my existence.  I expressed poses in ways I never have before, and since I’ve returned, I have pushed my edge beyond what it once was, and all of a sudden found myself reaching poses that once eluded me, with ease.  Bali. Is. Magic. It encourages unbelievable transformation.

I miss the smell of frangipani wafting among the palms and bougainvillea, the sun high and hot in the sky, and the warmth radiating from deep within the earth, but I will return before too much time has passed.  My mind, body, and soul need that recharge on a regular basis. THANK YOU, BALI.

 Reaching for the sky in the Shala.&nbsp;

Reaching for the sky in the Shala. 

 Home sweet home.&nbsp;

Home sweet home. 

 Om Nama Shivaya (yes, I'm wearing a pizza shirt).&nbsp;

Om Nama Shivaya (yes, I'm wearing a pizza shirt). 

 Titra Empul offerings.&nbsp;

Titra Empul offerings. 

 CLEANSE.&nbsp;

CLEANSE. 

 Find new perspectives.&nbsp;

Find new perspectives. 

 and REST.&nbsp;

and REST. 

To the Edge!

Ironically, my band has a song with this exact title (To the Edge), and it popped into my head last week as I was searching for my edge, both physically and emotionally, at the precipice of the spring equinox, on the cusp on the new moon.  How about THAT! Anyway, I definitely found a number of edges over the past few weeks and with the help and support of friends, teachers, and family, broke through some of them and am on my way through realizations and shifting patterns. All very good stuff, but transformation is hard and knocks you on your ass! 

My dear friend Kathleen Pizzello, owner of the amazing The Moon + the Mat Yoga studio in Beverly, MA, offered a handstand workshop recently.  I'm scared shitless of handstands.  Fully own it.  So, I figured, I should start facing the fear.  Welp, I am eternally grateful for her guidance and teaching, because not only did I learn that I'm afraid of doing a stupid handstand (I mean, honestly, the worst thing that is gonna happen is that I fall and get banged up, and heal...), but I'm afraid to trust. That is my edge!  Smacked me right in the face. I cried during savasana.  A good and wonderful cry of release and acknowledgement.  Breakdowns before breakthroughs, afterall!  Years of holding this distrust just poured out of me.  If you have me do a handstand against the wall, there is no problem.  At all.  I know the wall is there.  Its solid and tangible and isn't going to move. 

Well, that's not the case when I attempt to press up in the middle of the room and even with very capable and wonderful people spotting me, I inherently don't trust that they can really  support me, but more salient is that I don't trust myself and my abilities. That was the biggest breakthrough for me. I mean, let's look at this logically... if a handstand is a scary life event like a relationship, for instance, its not a big surprise that I don't trust myself anymore.  I've made some pretty questionable decisions regarding who I have invested energy into in the past.  Sadly, emotional vampires have sucked me dry on more than one occasion and I damn well know exactly why I don't trust myself. 

Regardless, working on handstands was a HUGE eye opener for me. Burst open a door so hard you might as well have napalmed the dang thing.  But like I said: its a good development.  Even if I never press into a perfect handstand, I'm newly cognizant of the walls I need to break down in my life. The walls that were holding the handstand up. The learning curve of trust--of others, but more importantly myself when it comes to my weary heart. It was a huge relief to find my edge.  To know exactly where it is and how to maneuver in a way that will allow me to expand beyond that edge with mindfulness, love, and care. 

Speaking of edges, I co-taught a Yoga Mala with another amazing friend and teacher, Jacalynn Willett, last weekend.  So many edges in the room.  A Yoga Mala is an intense practice of 108 sun salutations.  I participated in one before, but this was my first time teaching.  I observed our students dancing along the edge of their physical practices (108 sun salutations ain't no joke!).  So much energy was being shifted and transformed.  You could literally feel it in your bones. I only did about 45 sun salutations while Jacalynn taught, and the rest of my time was spent teaching, assisting, or massaging our students.  I have been exhausted for two days at this point.  A good exhaustion.  A powerful one.  Holding space for others is tough, because... well...space is heavy.  I am grateful to have shared the experience with an intuitive soul such as Jacalynn.  It was an awesome, yet deeply challenging workshop.  I am grateful to everyone who participated and found their edges in sangha. 

The moral of the story is that whether finding your edge makes you laugh or cry, its transformative, and is always allowing you to expand beyond where you were previously. And that's a pretty cool thing.  Namaste my peeps. 

 

 

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Anchor, Focus, and Transform!

Here we are...back at a full moon again.  It's the full moon in Virgo and HOLY SHIT, the last full moon of winter! That’s right folks, in one more lunar cycle, it will be spring!  You can already feel it.  The air is more saturated, the light sticks around a bit longer, the buds have begun to form.  Oh, and do you feel like you have more energy?  Yup.  The longer exposure to daylight is signaling your body to WAKE UP.

Since this full moon is in a cosmic position (Virgo) that beckons us to LEAVE BEHIND BAD HABITS, for Virgo is the healer, I’m going to make a cheesy analogy about “spring cleaning.”  After a long winter we sorta need to shed our skins (Ew, gross.  But, we do), and clean out the winter “junk.”  Our bodies speed up metabolically, waking from our long winter’s rests, and the body, mind, and soul crave cleansing in order to stimulate new growth and renewal.  That’s how it works, biologically: it’s time for hibernation and overeating cheese and pasta, to end. So, where to start in this cleansing process?

First, lock in on your body and switch up the ‘ole diet.  Eat more bitter and fermented foods (bitter greens like dandelion greens and chicory and some delicious kimchi would work) to cleanse the blood, and get the immune system moving.  Also, start actually MOVING your body.  Get to yoga, go for a jog, start a regular fitness program.  Use that extra energy to your advantage!  There is this push to do this right after the holidays, but in all honesty, the body has literally just gone into winter hibernation mode at solstice.  Let yourself rest.  However, right now, leading up to vernal equinox, is the time to get this underway! Drink tea, drink water with unfiltered apple cider vinegar, and get some fresh, freakin’ air.

I suppose it gets a little fuzzy when we move into mind and soul territory (though, remember, all are linked and YOGA helps you cultivate that connection with the body, so get to class, kids!). So many different options to begin this cleansing and renewal process.  So many options regarding what needs healing.  So many different paths can lead you to “what do I need to release and what do I need to manifest?”  Per usual, I suggest following your intuition.  It never leads you astray.  Not really, anyway. If you feel led astray, you probably didn’t follow your intuition in the first place. With the mind, in this full moon, we are called to “anchor” down.  Once we anchor, we can focus. Why anchor before focus? Well, you can focus all you want on a point on the horizon, but if you haven’t anchored your ship, you’re gonna drift off course. Anchoring down into mother earth can ground us.  Where do you feel, truly, in your heart of hearts, the need for healing most? Perhaps identifying that will lead you to which old habits (these can be an activity, a thought, OR a person), need to be left to blow away on the last winter wind of 2018. By anchoring and focusing, we can transform.  We can weave a new tapestry and conjure new manifestations to fill the void where old, played-out stories have been released from the mind and the soul.

Fun fact: this full moon is also known as the worm moon.  Nice name, right? But ecologically, worms play an enormous role in cleansing, renewal, and transformation. Around this time of year as the soil thaws, worms kick up their metabolic function and start moving around.  And when worms move through the soil, their little wormy tunnels aerate the soil ( I always make sure my garden boxes are full of these little squirmies). Aerated soil allows cleansing and creates SPACE, just like your yoga practice, so that water, nutrients, and oxygen can move with ease and nourish newly sown seeds and previously established roots. Worms also nourish the soil through their own existences, providing minerals and nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous, which will literally transform seeds into plants as the growing season continues.  These little guys are ecological engineers.  They transform the entire subsurface environment and allow growth, expansion, and abundance.  They are most certainly the weavers of a beautiful life tapestry and thus, this moon is aptly named.

You may not find all the answers on this full moon, or during this spring season even, but it’s an iterative process. We work one thing at a time and sometimes everything at once.  Be patient and try to find the anchor and focus, and let the transformation within you begin to unfurl, like the petals of a flower reaching for the sun, or the sails of a ship setting out on a great journey.

Namase and Blessed Be.

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What lies beneath the surface?

Sometimes in yoga class, as well as in life, we are encouraged to "go deep."  Sometimes it makes sense to do so. And SOMETIMES, its just not in the cards.  Whether we are sick, or injured, or plain old having a bad day, the desire to "go deep" and take ourselves to the absolute limit of our abilities, isn't always the most fruitful or wise path. Sometimes, we need to summon what lies just beneath the surface. The path of least resistance may hold a well-source of energy we can tap into when we are depleted and when we need space held for us. 

A few weeks ago was the crazy super-blue-blood-moon-eclipse extravaganza, and man, it was a LOT of energy. Hadn't happened in like, 150 years either.  It wiped me out and I got super sick.  I rested up for a few days; enough to still teach my classes (don't worry, I skipped the massage and hands-on assists).  I was still pretty exhausted and beat up and for some odd reason I decided that teaching ustrasana (camel pose), my LEAST favorite backbend, was a great idea. I don't know where it came from...it just sorta organically happened in class.  And weirdly, I didn't feel like I was forcing my body into it, or convincing my mind that teaching it was necessary.  It just kinda flowed.  I literally felt like I was dipping right beneath the surface to pull out the resource I needed at that time.  I trusted the universe, my abilities, and what was most needed, manifested itself.  How's that for some full moon magic!

We tend to ask "is it enough?" or "am I enough?"  Seriously, maybe you have that feeling several times a day.  We often tell ourselves that we aren't.  I do it.  But why? The self-competitiveness, the over-efforting to fit our expectations into our pre-conceived vision,  the wandering off the middle-path, tend to make us feel, well...miserable.  We suffer when we do this, and as the Buddha says: "pain is inevitable, suffering is optional." 

So what's the point of all this...

The middle path.  Brahmacharya.  The balance we can strike within ourselves and between ourselves and the universe. Where is the tipping point between over-efforting and putting in just enough; where we can reach beneath the surface rather that digging so deep we expend all our energy?  The Goldilocks effect...similar to planet earth and her alignment within the solar system. 

As such, I return to my original focus of this blog entry: reaching beneath the surface.  Try it sometime.  That middle path, those resources floating just beneath water in your well, they may be the thing that helps you expand more than you ever thought possible. 

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Full Blue, Blood, SuperMoon in Leo on Imbolc!

Lion, tigers, and bears, oh my!  Seriously. There is a LOT of lunar and seasonal energy happening right now.  This type of lunar event hasn't happened in over 150 years either!  

First, its a supermoon, which simply means that the lunar revolution around earth takes the moon really close to us. SOOOO, the pull the moon has on the tides, and subsequently on our watery cellular dwellings, is pretty freaking strong. Don't fight it.  Use it to manifest your intentions.  The harder we try to swim upstream, the more beat down we feel. Sometimes we need to go with that flow.  Ok, enough ocean/water/tide analogies.  You get the idea. 

Second, its a blue moon: the second full moon in one calendar month.  AND, its also a blood moon, which is a fancy way of saying lunar eclipse.  When the earth's shadow is cast over the surface of the full moon, it casts a red hue, hence the "blood" piece of this puzzle. During a lunar eclipse, the moon goes through all phases: from full to new, to full again.  Its like shutting one door, and opening a new one.  A total reset! Use THIS energy to release and manifest!  

The moon is also in Leo, and the Leo moon begs us to dig beneath the surface to air out any harmful emotional issues that are still dragging us down. Time to ditch those old stories and choose the better ones.  Its like, all the possible permutations of moon things that can happen, are happening.  So its a GREAT time for release, growth, creation, and transformation.  Whether you apply this to your life, your yoga practice, your job, or whatever, really.  The world is your shiny moon oyster, and its time to release the negative, create the positive, and choose the better plotline for your whole life. I mean, why choose the mediocre, re-played one when you can have something unique and awesome? You can do it. I know you can. 

Its also Imbolc: the pagan midwinter festival that marks the "dawn" of spring.  Well, ok, it marks the halfway point between winter solstice and spring equinox, which are pretty immutable since they are based on our position in space in relation to the sun.  Groundhog Day always has pissed me off because the groundhog is never going to see his stupid shadow in the northern hemisphere based on planetary alignments, but alas, people like that little critter, AND I suppose on some level this "holiday" is the modern, "cute" embodiment of Imbolc.  The ancients were on to something in relation to the dawn of spring, though, because the first metabolic processes within dormant seeds that lay beneath the frozen ground, begin to stir at this time of year.  The sap begins to run. AND, if you take a look, you will see the buds growing on the trees.  Life still persists, and well, our ancestors noticed that kind of stuff.  Maybe we should too.  For the great naturalist John Muir once said "In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks." Hell yes. 

I suppose this is why I've been drawn to earth-centric beliefs since I was 15, when I first found a book in the town library called "Ancient Ways" by Pauline Campanelli.  After repeatedly rejecting Catholicism, because it didn't make sense to me that my dad was my dad, but that I had this other "dad" who lived in this magical heaven place (that notion really messed with my mental map), I found solace and made sense of the magic within the ecology of the natural world.  I could see it and experience it.  That was important to me.  I suppose I always knew it, but finding that book was something concrete and something that supported what I already thought.  It was all important enough that it influenced my ecological studies in college and graduate school and my career choice as a marine biologist.  Because I could believe in something that was magical (synonyms: incredible, outstanding, awesome, remarkable) and science all at once. 

As I've gotten older, my journey of connection to the natural world: the earth, the moon, the universe, has only gotten stronger.  I try to eat food that is close to its natural state.  I like to buy local and support farms, and grow my own food when I can.  I like to forage in the woods for edible plants like purslane, wild berries and white pine; and when I can, eat locally raised meat and eggs.   I have also come back around to making herbal concoctions and my own DIY health and wellness products like body butter, salves, and oils that can remove a lot of unnatural, paraben-filled, petrochemical nonsense.  They are a lot better than the ones I hacked together in my early 20s, let me tell you. LOL. Check out @thechaosfactorsalem on IG for my adventures in DIY health and wellness! And don't even get me started on pesticides and other gross toxicants.  Unless you have a lot of time. Much to my chagrin, I know a lot about nasties in the water supply through my career with the fisheries service. 

So, how does this all relate back to lunar cycles and energy?  Releasing and manifesting? Well, I suppose my little anecdote is a story of manifestation, now isn't it? Nature, and our connection to it, is a driving force in our ability to release and manifest.  Whether you believe in moon magic or not, or are a Christian, a Pagan, or an atheist, our connection to nature is very real and tangible.   We know the moon influences cycles on earth (tides, etc.), so its a natural correlation that the moon affects us living entities too.  Just as the seasons, the sun, and the weather do. These connections remind us that we are alive, and that we can thrive on this blue planet that travels through space at mind blowing speed.  Feeling and KNOWING that connection is there can help us release, because it reminds us that some things really do not matter. The earth is so big and awe-inspiring.  The universe is even LARGER.  Our limiting beliefs, and the things that truly do not matter, do not need to be carried with us.  And well, once we get rid of that old junk, think of all that space that opens up?  Think of all that you can manifest?  Even if its as simple as manifesting a path like I suppose I did at age 15. In hindsight I didn't realize how profound that was. I didn't even know I was manifesting.  But now I recognize it.  And the more we can recognize it, the more we can harness the energy, and in my opinion, that connection to the elements and the universe around us (including the moon and all her crazy energy right now), is number one in making it all happen. 

Namaste. <3

The Elements of Alignment

Seriously.  How DO we find alignment? Cultivating balance in our lives, our bodies, and our minds is something we all want, all the time, but: how?  Its not easy, I totally hear you. Right now, the moon is still waxing, and is currently in Taurus.  There was a shift from Aries (fiery, and rather chaotic energy, to be perfectly honest) over the past few days, to Taurus (the most earthy and grounded of all earthiness and groundedness).  Feeling that transition got me thinking about how subtle shifts can bring things into, or out of, alignment very quickly.  Personally, I felt pretty off earlier this week, and feel much more balanced now.  

In my mind, alignment is truly the interplay of strength and softness; movement and stillness; it is sublime, and OH so wonderful when its achieved.  All the elements in perfect harmony. Conversely, I've had physically painful experiences where my body was severely out of align, and that is NOT wonderful! Feeling misaligned in the body for any length of time can drain all mental and emotional energy. 

My dharma talks often center on strength and softness/movement and stillness: complimentary forces that can bring the body (and mind!) closer to alignment. I've encountered a fair number of folks who seem to think a yoga practice is all about flexibility.  I would encourage anyone who thinks that to take a closer look, because although flexibility plays a role, and can increase over time, the physical practice comprises so much more.  In order to stack our bones in the way nature intended for our (very unique, and individual) bodies, our muscles, tendons, and ligaments need to work in concert to hold them in place so kinetic energy can be brought forth from potential, thus creating motion. 

So, our muscular system needs to be strong (yet pliable--hence the flexibility piece!), without over-efforting.  Therein we must find the balance between strength and softness in the body during our asana practice. Ask yourself as you move through your vinyasa: where do I need to be strong, and where can I soften?  For within the strength, we may need softness, and within the softness, we sometimes find strength. That is part of the journey to personal alignment.  

The same principles apply to movement and stillness.  A vinyasa practice is often like a dance or a piece of music, full of dynamics and rests, places to extend energy, and places to pull inward.  Where is the line to balance on?  That's certainly always the million dollar question. When you find the perfect mix of stillness and movement on a given day, for your body on that day, you've found your alignment in that moment.  Be grateful for that moment, for the present moment is all we truly have. 

As I allude to previously, I liken the forces of strength, softness, movement, and stillness to the 4 elements, which are: earth, air, fire, and water.  When one is out of whack (like the Aries moon imbuing too much fire), shifts may occur to bring a complimenting force into play (thank you earthy Taurus!) thus re-aligning for the better.  Next time you are in a pose that requires all the elements, Crescent Lunge (Anjanyasana) for example, try to lock in on all the pieces.  Strength: legs strong; root down through front foot; bring the back heel up over the back toes, pull the front hip back to keep the pelvis even, belly in tight toward spine.  Soften: sink lower, bring shoulders on to back as arms rise overhead, soften through the elbows, shoulders melt away from ears, soften and expand across chest.  Movement: keep pulling the front hip back, keep pulling the root chakra toward the earth, find a little flow in the upper body as you soften and let yourself settle in.  Stillness: although muscles are engaged in the lower body, still the lower body, and thus still the mind.  This thought process applies to a vinyasa flow too.  Some portions of your practice require a lot of strength: warrior poses, backbends, arm balances, etc.  Others require softness: pigeon, supine twists, supta baddha konasana.  Similarly, during your vinyasa flow, you will encounter a lot of movement: sun salutations, skandasana, cat/cow.  But there is stillness too: legs up pose, childs pose, any restorative posture. Without all the elements, you do not have the flow, nor do you have the poses, themselves. 

Regardless of the details, what happens when the 4 elements harmonize?  They bring about the 5th element of spirit.  And in my analogy, sprit is tantamount to alignment.  So, my friends, you've found alignment when you use your own personal alchemy to combine the elements and bring yourself to a higher place of understanding.  Of inner peace.  Of balance. 

Namase, witches and bitches. ↟ ☆ ↟ 

 

 

 

 

Fear: What is limiting your expansion?

Its the waxing crescent in aquarius.  During the waxing phase of the moon I tend to think about expansion.  I suppose its a natural thought process, since the sun's light begins to expand across the surface of the moon until that luminescent light reflects back at you in all its brilliant glory.  Its a good time to ponder, and very naturally, reflect (just like the sunlight), but to also gather energy as we move toward the full phase, where the moon is at its maximum (good for manifestation!) and all sorts of effects are felt in our watery biological vessels. 

So, what holds back expansion? I know for myself, its fear.  Fear comes in many forms: self-doubt, insecurity, and sometimes, visceral aversion.  So, how can we overcome some of the fears we have in order to let ourselves truly expand?  Good question.  If you figure it out, let me know!  Just kidding. 

I find for myself, examining the fear--during a journaling session, while meditating, or just when I have a quiet moment, allows me to start peeling back the layers to get down to the root of the issue.  And at that point sometimes its clear as the bright full moon light on a starless night, that the fear is coming from a very specific place for a very specific reason.  I was thinking the other day about how fear, when it causes hesitation, usually is where we go off the rails and thus we do not expand in a way we might like to. Its that damn hesitation.  It gets us all, right? If I hesitate on a guitar solo when my band plays, I most definitely screw it up.  If I hesitate before I pop up while surfing, I usually miss the wave.  In those activities, I'm mostly able to shut off the "citta vritti" (mind fluctuations) and go for it.  But not always.  I do find it VERY difficult to shut my own head up when it comes to personal relationships, at times.  Connecting is hard!  And that's ok--its part of the process and evolution. And I DEFINITELY find it difficult to shut the 'ole brain up during certain yoga poses.  As teachers, we are perpetually students.  For me, several arm balances and poses like handstands scare the shit out of me when I work on them.  My teacher told me that poses we like least are the ones we should practice most. 

So, why the hesitation? I mean, the worst thing that happens if I fall is probably a few bruises that I'll heal from.  My theory is that its all about control, or the lack thereof.  When you begin ANY new endeavor, there is an innate fear (yes, we are hardwired to fear--in some cases it keeps us alive.  Biologist Chrissy at your service right now, hoping that the government doesn't shut down so I can still go to work on Monday! Hello, insecurity and fear!). When we are not in control, our brains and bodies go into the fight or flight mode: the sympathetic nervous system kicks into HIGH gear.  Being out of control is not a great feeing, so how do we deal with it? Especially when we are looking to expand beyond our current boundaries? 

Connection to the body and the breath is where I like to start.  One breath at a time.  And then OVER time, steps in the way of seeking guidance, of practice, or of questioning/reading/researching and most of all trusting, can be made.  Trust is the biggest key to the puzzle of fear, hesitation, and lack of control as it relates to expansion.  If we don't trust that we are on the right paths, that we are taking right action, and that what we seek will come to us, it makes it virtually impossible to expand. So get out there and give it a try! 

I'd like to add too, that sometimes expansion occurs in ways that one doesn't expect. Sometimes we manifest without the expectation and its wonderful!  Kriya Sakti! So instead of kicking ourselves for not hitting a particular pose, or getting that job we applied for, or catching that killer wave, maybe we can all try to remember that something else that suits us better, that perhaps will bring us WAY outside our boundaries, is on the horizon.  Because even in the places where we've tried and did not succeed in the way we had envisioned, expansion of the self has actually occurred.

Namaste.