Wednesday, September 22, 2010
So, this is the beginning of fall, huh? Autumn Equinox, the official first day. Fall in Texas is different: we don’t have one. In other parts of the country, golden sunlight casts its fading warmth on the red and yellow oaks of autumn, lakes are adorned with bobbing flotillas of migrating fowl. Tractors cut vast fields of hay, farmers plow harvest stubble to fallow until the spring.
We define fall in a different way. It’s when the evening lows are no longer in the 80s. Rain changes from the mad thrashing thunderstorms of summer – that is, if we get rain in the summer — to the enveloping downpour that comes with cold fronts from the north. We tentatively emerge from our air-conditioned dens to see the sky, once a pale bleached blue, regain its deeper hue. Lawns come to life, changing to emerald green from parchment brown.
We slip into the leeward side of the seasons as the autumnal equinox arrives. Leaving the suspended state of summer, with its forever young feeling of long days, sunshine and growth, we rejoin the awesome river of change that is life. Fall is about falling, about tumbling from the high point of summer, returning to the flow, about releasing and letting go. It’s about believing that the way to leave a mark on this life is not through accumulating and controlling, to own or to possess, but through creating and releasing, from the children we raise to the works of art we create.
For us, this giving without obligation is a philosophy we come to after much consideration and beating up on our egos. To the natural world of plants and animals, bugs and fish, it is simply the way of life. Leaves separate from the trees, cascade to the ground and return into the Earth. Animals die and decay, their bodies fertilize plants that feed their children. Everything returns to the source, knowing it will return. The circle of life, the cycles of life. Regeneration through generations.
Autumn Equinox is the moment of equilibrium just before this fall. The Earth in its wobbly path through the cosmos is for a brief time spinning perfectly upright and the Sun is shining straight on at the equator—hence the name, equinox. Instead of leaning into the Sun like it does in summer or leaning away in winter, just a for a moment the Earth is balanced -- no, not so much that an egg placed on its pointed end will stand upright, like a lot of folks try to do on this day -- but enough to give us a metaphor to live by.
This momentary drift into balance and back out again is a reminder of how tentative life can be, how fleeting and how sweet. It reminds us to seize those moments, carpe diem, and live them fully, to embrace this life and all its mortality, to never go to bed angry at someone you care about. So we take this special day before we tip towards winter and the waning days of the seasonal year to celebrate the connections we make in this brief time together and honor the abundant gifts the Earth gives to us so willingly.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Yes, a fingernail break. Why so mundane an occurrence a tragedy? Because I had a nail to break. My first broken finger nail. At age 54.
I'd bitten my nails for decades, ever since I had nails to bite. Let's just say the childhood home was a nerve-wracking place to be. I accepted my stubby fingers and their paper-thin gnawed little adornments. Until middle-age hit and I decided that a grown woman with bit nails was just pathetic.
I tried coating them with hot-pepper juice - that made for a spicy chew. I covered them with artificial nails - a difficult and bitter chew. Whatever was on my nail I chewed off and then I chewed the nails.
I went through counseling, hypnosis, neuro linguistic programming and more counseling. I did shamanic ceremonies to banish the habit. I asked my husband to slap me whenever he saw me biting my nails, but that would amount to battery.
So how did I stop a 50-year habit? I went to the chiropractor. Specifically, a network chiropractor. Instead of cracking your back, network folks address the nervous system to instill a state of ease that then allows the spine to align naturally.
According to Lane Cawthon, my network guy, my sympathetic nervous system was in overdrive, the flight-or-fight response kicking off at every opportunity, even though outwardly I appeared calm.
My laid back parasympathetic nervous system, which should have been running most of the show, was suppressed in favor of the macho sympathetic nervous system, ready to defend against all terrors, real and imagined, mostly imagined.
Here's the deal with the sympathetic nervous system. In its hyper state it consumes vast amounts of protein, leaving little for body parts made of protein - like fingernails.
I'd stopped biting my nails because they were harder to bite and I was less nervous. It was easy. Yet I cringe. All that money I pissed away on habit-breaking techniques! All the beating up I did on myself for failing to break the habit.
In the mind-body dance, sometimes the body leads.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
New Moon Rosh Hashana & Eclipse of the Soul
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
by Amy Martin
We are walking into darkness, ebbing toward winter, exhaling before we take a Solstice pause and begin breathing again into spring’s light. Shadows grow long, in nature and in our hearts. For the past several months, we have heard mostly the sound of summer running. It is now time to listen to the sounds of our souls, to hear the silence as well as the noise.
At sunset today begins Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year. The next New Moon is Samhain, when the Celts set forth their year. It’s a calendar cycle fashioned after the growing plant. An oak sapling begins the moment the acorn falls from the tree in autumn. Winds and rains push the acorn deeper into the soil. Now covered in the dirt and dark, it gestates until the spring, unfurling and branching into the light to grow, produce and then decline. And so does the Celtic and Jewish year. At this time of season when we are walking into darkness, into that risky gestation and birth, the wise get ready, look for clarity and grace.
Rosh Hashana begins 10 days of atonement, an annual clearing of the karmic books, a time of conscience, to right wrongs and make amends, starting the year with a fresh slate. We extend kindnesses to the powerless and underprivileged, challenging the illusion of separation that they are different from us. We consider our food, those that give their lives so we may eat. Atonement. At-one-ment. An invitation arises in each of these days to spend time making real in your mind the highest good of the upcoming year, the kind of life you want to lead, kind of soul you want to be. Atonement time concludes in Yom Kippur, the holiest of Jewish days. This year Rosh Hashana coincides with the end of Ramadan, the holiest month in Muslim calendar when followers fast from sunrise to sunset and devote themselves to acts of charity.
When you woke up this morning, you woke up to a new day, a New Moon, a new life. New Moons signal the beginning of Ramadan and Rosh Hashana and the New Moon is exact today at 5:30 am. A New Moon is a promise, a beginning, a start. For three days she is invisible, unseen in sky, lost in the brilliant solar corona, the Sun and Moon conjunct in the sky. A New Moon is the archetype for submission to a larger force and initiation into our own power, just as the Moon undergoes trial by fire, subsuming herself to Sun, only to emerge renewed, a slender crescent in the western sunset sky.
This New Moon, falling in the sign of Virgo, shapes the emphasis of the next four weeks on harvesting our intentions. It is a time to build plans for new visions, of committing to the nurturing of yourself and the Earth. The mutable nature of Virgo asks what you are willing to release to build something greater. An astrologer friend advises: People are more willing to change and transform things at a deeper level – even if it was something they swore they’d never do!
Do you let the shadows pursue you? Do you let that which you don’t want to look at, that which you can’t identify, have dominion over you, determining your actions? But, you say, you do yoga every day, have had your charkas aligned, been blessed, sanctified, consecrated, purified, learned from the masters and even taught a few. And yet, there it is, your shadow side, waiting still. Denied, ignored or discredited it only grows, pursuing like the Furies, sending signals and lessons that we so deftly evade. Walk willingly into the darkness this season, journey until you find the center of yourself, the clarity and grace found only there. Embrace the shadow and the core that simply is, and await the return into the light.