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Emerging from a slumber: Lessons from nature this time of year

Emerging from a slumber

As we approach Winter Solstice in the Northern hemisphere – I honor that it is a time when nature nears its completion of its turn toward what we experience as the “shortest” days of the year.  The days are not actually shorter; we simply experience them as shorter because we “see” less daytime, and observe more evening time during a 24-hour period.

As Winter Solstice comes and goes, we tend to say that the light returns. May we all remember that the light never truly goes away.  It’s always there. It’s only that during certain portions of our planet’s orbit around the sun, we experience fewer hours of daylight.  Physically, on the earth, the more north we are, the more extreme the disparity between the total hours of lightness and of darkness.

Not unlike the planet, we, too, as humans are turning and rotating through the seasons…through the seasons of the year and the seasons of our lives.

What is it about slowing down, lying dormant, by nature’s design, only to be later awakened from our slumber – that sometimes seemingly troubles us? Why is it that in modern day society, we tend to choose overindulgences over what is more meaningful and is more apt to sustain us? Typically, we tend to go for the immediate gratification. Silly humans!

We can take a lesson from the great grizzlies who “den” in the wintertime, seeking refuge from the severe weather conditions. Hibernation affords them an opportunity to preserve their bodies and life force energy when the natural resources on the outside are less readily available and more difficult to come by. It’s a time when the wind picks up, and the temperature drops. The grizzlies forage and bulk up during the weeks preceding their hibernation; they re-emerge leaner and yet just as strong as when they entered.

How does this parallel our own lives as spiritual seekers? Does this open up an opportunity for us each year, to “go inside” and take refuge from the outside forces?  For me, that means surrendering into the natural rhythm of the seasonal shifts, rather than fighting against them.  I used to express disdain for the wintertime.  I saw it as an inconvenience to drive home from work in the dark, and to have fewer hours of sunshine to enjoy the beach and other outdoor activities.

While I’m still practicing my surrendering into the darker times of the year, each trip around the sun I get a little closer to full acceptance. Turning inward, this time of year, I make an even more concerted effort to slow down and tap into my own inner light, my own soulful center.  We all have one.  And, yes, like the sun, it’s always there, too.  Sometimes it’s a flicker; other times, it’s a full glow. It may appear dark and stark from time to time.  I remind myself that it only appears that way. The source of the light remains the same: constant, steadfast, reliable, and true. I have much to receive from it, much to sustain me.  I appreciate it now.  I’m thankful for all that it offers.  And, for you?

For your consideration:

As individuals and as a society, have we been slumbering too long?  Or, to mix metaphors:  Have we been asleep at the wheel?

From a spiritual standpoint: Are we now emerging from our slumber and stepping into a higher level of consciousness?  I would say yes, for many, this is indeed the case.  That’s what’s been the challenge as well as the opportunity…for growth, for a remembrance of what’s pure and true, and for paving a renewed path: a path that honors us, our sacred institutions, and our precious planet and all those who inhabit it.

For me, the recent political landscape in the United States has served as a powerfully potent catalyst that has reawakened me from my own slumber and reactivated my political and legal activism. The misuse of power across many sectors of our federal government, coupled with the blatant disregard for the United States Constitution hurts my heart.  And, at the same time, it fuels my passion. If you’re a regular reader of Soul Notes, then you’ll recall some of my chronicles of such matters the past two years.  I’m feeling into what that means for me, heading into 2019.

Okay, your turn:

Where in your life would you like to take temporary refuge, and regroup, so that later you may re-emerge lean and strong?  What needs shedding or letting go?   What lessons can be found in the darkness?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2018 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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Savasana and the power of sweet surrender

Restore and Replenish

Ultimately, this practice helps “ready and steady” you for success as you return to the world refreshed and more available to handle its opportunities, challenges and stresses.

During this time of year, as nature slows down and takes a quiet breather to restore and replenish, it’s a good time to revisit our daily practices and employ simple yet effective ways to follow mother nature’s wisdom.   As nature turns inward, I invite us to do the same.

Heading into the holiday season as well, this can be a time of year that may heighten our nerves and trigger deep emotions.  This too makes it an ideal time to implement consistent daily practices to ground ourselves,  and help us “settle everything down”.

In this moon’s edition of Soul Notes, we explore the ancient practice of savasana, and a technique called 4-7-8 breathing.

Turning Inward

So often in our fast-paced world, we seemingly forget to relax! Even low-level activities which we may be thinking are ways to relax often serve more as a mental distraction, and aren’t truly relaxing at all (watching television news, anyone?)

What if we were to allow ourselves to drop into a state of quiet neutrality, where all of our hurried, harried, frazzled parts can come back together and rest?

Savasana, or “final resting pose”: This asana (posture) is typically reserved for the end of a yoga practice.

After a revving up of the body, nervous system, organs, muscles and blood flow during yoga exercises, savasana serves many blissful purposes, including:  reintegration, restoration, and a letting go of any mental chatter, agitation, or “gripping.”  It’s an easing into the floor or ground upon which your body is placed – on your back, with legs comfortably apart, arms opened, palms facing upward.  Eyes are closed.  Breathing is calm, slow, and deep. Savasana is typically done for 5-10 minutes, and may even be done for up to 30 minutes at a time.

By engaging in savasana, you more easily become aware of your breath and your mind state.   Ultimately, this practice helps “ready and steady” you for success as you return to the world and all its many challenges, opportunities, and stresses.

Another way to “turn inward” and combat the day to day stresses we all face, is to combine savasana with a 4-7-8-count breathing technique made popular by Dr. Andrew Weil. As with other yogic breathing, it’s best done with your tongue placed up and against the inside of your upper front teeth.  1. Take a slow deep breath in, for a count of four.  2. Hold the breath for a count of seven.  3. Release the breath out for a count of eight.  In one session, repeat this 4-7-8 breath cycle four times, to complete “one round”.

Start out breathing at a counting pace that’s comfortable for you, and over time you’ll find yourself being able to slow down your breathing and elongating each count.  The sequence, however, remains the same:  4-7-8. In total, a round of four breath cycles takes no more than two minutes, tops!

It will help you relax any time of day.  And, it will help you fall asleep.  Train yourself to do this to help you get centered, grounded and calm before you react to any stressful situation.

Although savasana is usually done at the end of a full yoga set, I’m inviting us all to try it on its own, as part of our daily practice, especially between now and the end of the year. Both savasana and the 4-7-8 technique have compounding positive effects when done consistently and over the course of several weeks and months.

Savasana and the 4-7-8 breathing technique — each of these practices are whole and complete on their own, and need not be done together.  You actually don’t usually see them done in conjunction with one another. I’m suggesting, though, that they make for a powerful combo pack!  I invite you to try them together, at least once a day.  Do a ten-minute savasana, followed by a four-cycle round of the 4-7-8 breathing.

Sweet Surrender

Both of these practices serve as forms of physical and energetic surrender, in all the best ways.  It’s a conscious and powerful choice to grant ourselves devoted time to recharge and receive the bliss that comes with sweet surrender.  Look at the image of the child above, so pure, so relaxed…so open to all of life’s joys, triumphs, and love!

For your consideration and “extra credit”:

In addition to doing one savasana daily*:

Several times throughout the day — and especially right before going to sleep – do the 4-7-8 breathing exercise. Remember this practice takes only a minute or two to complete.  You will serve you and your overall health and well-being tremendously by doing so!

*For a refresher on daily practices, go here.

Okay, your turn:

What daily practices, if any, have you been doing throughout the course of this year? Have you tried any new ones?  Are you open to doing something a little differently throughout the holiday season?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2017 Lori A. Noonan. All rights reserved.

 

 

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Every time a bell rings

At this time of year when the veil between the physical world and the spiritual world is at its thinnest and most transparent, I’m struck by the emergence of seemingly non-coincidental coincidences.  In this edition of Soul Notes, allow me to share a story of what happened a couple weeks ago.

Fanciful Financials

This year for me has been one of self empowerment – in my outlook on life, my relationships, and in my money matters. Among other things, I’ve been taking a more active role in creating and stewarding my wealth.  Along those lines, in reviewing my credit card statements this month, I discovered multiple charges on one of my accounts, that I did not authorize.

If you’re anything like me, calling an 800 number and working through a myriad of voice prompts and being put on hold for great lengths of time is not high on your joy list.  Even lower on the list is calling a credit card company to challenge hundreds of dollars in charges.  So, I took charge (pun intended!) of the situation by allowing the experience to be a lot more pleasant and perhaps even fanciful.  Fanciful financials, why that would be wonderful, wouldn’t it?

I set the intention that, instead of taking on my usual dread of calling a credit card company, I would first make a call of a different kind.  I took a deep breath, got quiet, and called in the angels.  Not any ol’ angels mind you – I called in angelic helpers of a certain variety, namely those looking for a specific type of assignment.

My spiritual call went something like this:

 “Hello…any fanciful financial angels available in this moment?  Especially ones who are good at facilitating the resolution of billing disputes, so that I may remain calm and patient throughout, and get this resolved smoothly, today, if possible?”

Okay, if you’re thinking that this blog post is getting way too hocus pocus for your taste, stay with me.  My wish is that this lil’ story serves as a heartwarming respite from the otherwise heavy news you may be reading elsewhere today.

Wonderful Wonders

Remember the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life”?  Originally released during the 1940s, it’s now considered to be an all-time favorite holiday classic.

Jimmy Stewart plays the protagonist George Bailey who at the beginning of the film, we find out,  considers himself to be a failure.  He wishes that he had never been born.  The film continues to weave between two “realities” – one where George’s life and the lives of those around him take a certain course; in the other, without George, those same events transpire in an entirely different way.

It is through the intervention of a visitor in town, a messenger named Clarence, that we and George see the true value of George’s life, and the vivid impact his life has had on everyone around him.

Near the end of the movie, George is seen standing next to his wife in front of a Christmas tree, with his daughter in his arms.  George looks down to find a book gifted to him by his friend Clarence, inscribed with prophetic words, and ending in: “Thanks for the wings!”

At that moment, a jingle-jangle is heard, and the camera zooms in on a small bell hanging on the Christmas tree.

The daughter points to it, and says:

“Look Daddy!

Teacher says, every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.”

George says to her, in response:

“That’s right.  That’s right.”

Looking up and winking, George says:

  “Attaboy, Clarence!”

~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~

Now, back to my credit card story.  After I had invoked the fanciful-financial-spirit-helpers-on-assignment, I took another deep breath, and dialed up Bank of America on their customer service line.  With renewed faith and an uncommon-for-me dose of patience, I followed the multiple recorded voice prompts, and then waited calmly on hold, when eventually a person came on the line.

“Hello,” she says.

“This is Angel.”

What the what?  Come on, you’re kidding me, right?  I say this to myself, and then smile as I realize what’s happening…Well, of course her name is Angel.

I feel a gush of glee and satisfaction, and think to myself:  Well, this truly is fanciful financials!

Angel couldn’t have been more helpful.  She carefully reviewed my account and the disputed charges, and assured me that she would do what she could to get the charges removed.  To do that, she said, she would need to call the merchant.

Rather than hanging up with me – or giving me the usual “we will look into it and you may or may not see any changes reflected on your next statement” – Angel did something that in my experience was a first:  she offered to call the merchant while I was still on the phone, so that we could get everything taken care of in one fell swoop.

A Three-Way Call

Here’s how the next part of the conversation went:

Angel:  “I have the merchant’s representative on the line, Lori.”

Lori:  “Angel, will you stay on the line, too, or are you transferring?”

Angel:  “Yes, I’ll stay on the call with you.  Here he is…”

I listen for his voice, and he says:

“Hello, this is Clarence.”

We worked it out, and all disputed charges were removed.

Jingle.

Jingle.

Jingle!

For your consideration:

Now is an ideal time to invite in clear communication and assistance from behind the veil. So, I leave you with these words from Train’s “Calling All Angels”:

“I need a sign to let me know you’re here
‘Cause my TV set just keeps it all from being clear

… And I’m calling all angels
I’m calling all you angels”

Okay, your turn:

What messages are coming through for you in your life?  Are you calling in any angels?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2016 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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Owning your own piece of PEACE…

Prince of PEACE: A study in contrasts

For many of us, this weekend is one where we are winding down from our Christmas celebrations and festivities. And for some, December has been a time spent focusing attention on Jesus Christ as the “Prince of Peace.” No matter your affiliation or spiritual tradition, however, I welcome you to explore with me here on the blog, this concept of peace, and of peace stewardship. It’s not of course, limited to a particular religion, or any religion, for that matter.

Are we not each a steward of peace, if we choose to be?

I realize that making this choice may seem too large, too assuming, nay even a completely hopeless notion, what with the seemingly endless examples of violence and strife – in our own communities, in our schools and movie theaters here in the United States, for example – and for each of us in various ways throughout our own countries as well as abroad. Perhaps.

I am awake to the endemic and pandemic:

  • Intolerance
  • Lack of understanding
  • Failure to empathize
  • Clinging to exclusion rather than inclusion
  • Perpetuation of separation rather than unity

I am also awakening to, and drawing from, however, the deep potential for peace that awaits within. It is available to each of us. We are at liberty to invoke it at any time. When we embody that peace, it cannot help but lend hope to ourselves and to those around us. Call me naïve, and yet, I am willing to carry forth this sentiment and from the point of realization that peace on earth really does indeed begin with me (and you).

I ask you to consider: What is your piece of the peace? 

Peace: It’s a moment by moment thing

This is not to suggest that it’s easy. Nor, am I suggesting it’s even plausible to maintain a sense of peace all day, every day. I’m only suggesting that we try. It’s worth our making the attempts, wouldn’t you say?

Admittedly, I’d say that peace is a moment by moment thing. I certainly don’t live in a state of peace at all times. I slip in and out of it, moment by moment. And yet, I may decide to bring peace to any given situation, in any given moment.

Also, peace may not mean completely free from conflict. It may, however, mean embracing a sense of gratitude, of serenity, of home.

So, to that, I say: Let’s create our own playful peace puzzles!

Ready to get your own peace party started?

Taking the letters of PEACE, I invite you to make your own peace offering – to yourself, and to anyone else who needs it. There’s no science to this – it’s art.

I’m not suggesting that these will solve the world’s crises. They may, however, provide a few moments of solace, and a brief respite and recess away from the disharmonious world around us. May they provide you the space to refrain from discord, and instead step out into the world from a place of peace.

Peace be with you.

Peace be within you.

Peace emanate from you.

For your consideration:

I’ll start. Here are three playful peace puzzles that I’ve put together for posting here on the blog:

Precede Engagements of Anger with Conscious Empathy

Preciously Embrace All Coziness Eternally

Proactively Entertain Abundantly Creative Enterprises

Okay, your turn:

I’ve left one blank for you to complete – feel free to do this one on your own. Have fun!

P__________ E __________ A__________ C__________ E __________

I invite you to share your own playful peace puzzle and any other peace related thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul! 

© 2015 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.