WINTER FEAST PART 1, Meditation Inspired by the Wilderness
Here is an outline of the first 17 days of my offering for the Winter Feast for the Soul. Take a look and see if any of these topics resonate with you!
EPISODE 1- Entering a Sacred Space,The Redwood Forest
This is day one of a three part series of meditations for young adults and teens. We begin by exploring the concept of nature as a mirror to the human mind, and then dive into some energetic practices to release tensions and stress, followed by 10 minutes of silent meditation. Enjoy!
EPISODE 2 – Redwood Tree
Rooted deep in the earth, stretching up to heaven, we become sturdy and durable like a tree but at the same time flexible, bending in the wind, grounded, unshakable but completely wild and free.
EPISODE 3 – Warm Rain
We explore the inside of our bodies, scanning from the top to the bottom, merging with the sound of the rain so that the rain outside can be felt and sensed internally, as if it is raining inside our bodies, a warm soft rain that takes away the tensions.
EPISODE 4 – Sounds of the Forest
There are some wild places on the earth that are so far removed from the sounds of industrialized civilization that one can find true quiet. Once the bluntness of the external hum of the city is removed, like the noise of the traffic or the roar of an airplane above, more subtle sounds are free to emerge. When meditating in the forest in stillness, in silence, suddenly animals might come out of their hiding places as they don’t sense a threat from you. Deer, owls, birds, maybe even bears feel comfortable and free to show themselves! Internally, the same thing happens when we invite silence and stillness into our inner ecosystem. What emerges when we create an internal sanctuary, secluded from activity and loud noises? Our own hidden wilderness emerges and with it a new sense of freedom, a wild aliveness.
EPISODE 5- Ferns, Unfurling
Ferns are ancient survivors, appearing in the fossil record some 145 million years ago. They are adaptable, understated, filling the forest floor the way space fills the four walls of a room, often unnoticed but incredibly important. Ferns grow their branches from tight spirals that look like tiny fists that unfurl slowly over time, expanding into large fanning green branches of foliage. In this meditation, we find the untapped potential inside ourselves, the places that are tight, spiraled up in a knot, or balled into fists, and we greet these places with compassion, allowing them to open up, spread out, and show their potential.
EPISODE 6- Owl Totem
Owls have the capacity to see long distances, in the dark. They enshroud themselves in feathers, sitting quietly, very still, nestled into the trees, conserving their energy. They observe the world around them; while, at the same time, they remain somewhat invisible themselves. Like the owl, in this meditation, we enshroud ourselves in feathers and turn inward, experiencing deep introversion. In this way, we can see into the dark corners of our ‘selves’, and we can shine light into our shadow-self. This way, we soften and smooth out aspects of our own mind/self that hold tensions. Then our external experience of life becomes a little smoother.
Episode 7 – Salmon Run
During the Salmon Run in the redwood forest, the salmon swim vigorously against the current, returning home to the river bed of their birth. In this meditation, we reflect upon the concept of swimming against the current: when is it worth our while to really work hard for something that is in alignment with the greater good, and when are we spinning our wheels to accomplish goals created by the ego? How can we discern the difference between working hard for a worthy outcome and letting go to see where the current takes us? In this meditation we invite our higher selves, the wisdom mind within, to integrate into our physical body so we may know the difference and use our gifts to make the biggest impact.
Episode 8 – Mother Bear
In almost every meditation tradition the hope is to cultivate compassion and loving-kindness, putting aside self-cherishing in order to express concern for the well bring of all. This can be very hard to do when 99% of our lives we concern ourselves with seeking our own pleasurable experiences. However, when people become parents, something interesting happens that flips this paradigm up-side down. Love. The desire to protect. A willingness to sacrifice oneself for the well-being of our child. Using parents as examples, in this meditation we focus on letting go of our own self-cherishing, wishing happiness for others. We explore the boundary-producing capacities of the organ the liver as we understand the fine line between utilizing the energy of anger to protect or destroy. Enjoy!
Episode 9- FOG
Sometimes things get murky before they get clear. Today’s meditation focuses on a common sensation that meditation practitioners may experience—the sensation of spaciness, murkiness, or more simply put: Fog. When we tap into old experiences and unprocessed emotions stored in the cellular memory of the body, the mind can feel out of whack while we re-integrate these old memories. Like fog rolling into the valley of the redwood forest, for a time it’s difficult to see. Fortunately, in time, the fog clears to display the majesty of the forest, once again.
Episode 10- Energy of Spaces
This meditation session turned into a smorgasbord of three different topics!
1. How can we follow Lao Tzu’s advice and deal with an issue when it is still small, before it turns into a full blown problem? We examine our internal landscape and soothe ourselves, finding the seeds of discontent and helping them to dissolve
2. After releasing these tensions, we fill ourselves with grace!
3. Then we notice that there are places in the world that pulsate with grace–where are they? How do they get created? What can we do in our own homes to cultivate the energy of grace? I heart positive vortexes 🙂 🙂 🙂
Hope you like this one.
Episode 11- Redwood Forest Symphony
Let’s put everything we learned so far together into one big internal symphony! This meditation concludes our exploration of the Redwood Forest.
Episode 12- Ocean Breathing, Waves
Like the cycle of the waves that slowly build, crest, and crumble into whitewater so is the circular cyclical nature of our breathing. Always moving, always changing, one full inhalation and exhalation is, as Malcom Gladwell would say, a ‘thin slice,’ or a microcosm, for the way our entire nervous system operates. How is your breathing? Relaxed, smooth? Tense, choppy? Then so will be your life. Let’s explore the wave of breath and use the ocean as our guide.
Episode 13- Merging with the Sea
Day, night. Expand, Contract. Full Moon, New Moon. Build, Destroy…..Inhale, Exhale. The ocean breathes in waves, circular, cyclical. We become the ocean, breathing, feeling her vitality. Every breath means life, blood coursing through our veins. In this meditation we feel the energy, the vitality, the aliveness of the ocean coursing through our body. We become a part of the pulse of the earth, merging with everything around.
Episode 14- Reconditioning the Wave
The next time you have a stressful event in your life, take a second to notice your breathing. What happens? Since the wave of our breath is pliable, it gets sculpted to match the way we react to stressful events on our life. We create impressions, or indentations/distortions to the wave that is our breath and this patterning influences our entire nervous system because the flow of the blood rests upon the inflow and outflow of oxygen. Every day, slowly slowly, we consciously focus our attention on smoothing out this wave through meditation, melting the parts of our breath that have become frozen, stretching the stiffness, soothing the tension. Little by little we can create a new baseline for our lives, or a new understanding of what it means to be relaxed and present.
Episode 15- High Tide, Low Tide, Breathing From the Diaphragm
The diaphragm is a bell shaped smooth muscle found underneath the rib cage. When we breathe in and out this hidden muscle flattens and relaxes into a bell shape, attaching to the spinal chord and influencing the head, neck, shoulders, back, and the internal organs. When we breathe small squishy ligaments help to pulse the inner organs and nourish them. In this meditation we explore the diaphragm, looking for places that have tension, observing it.
Episode 16- Ocean Chakras
How does it feel to breathe from every cell in the body? Oxygen, produced from trees, fills our body. How can we build a stronger bond with our mother, the earth, simply by breathing well, connecting our meditative presence to her energetic qualities? What special qualities exist, pulsating from the land where we live, that can be helpful to our spiritual evolution? This meditation invites a deepening of the practitioner’s love and connection with the land and a releasing of distractions that disconnect us from understanding and experiencing the natural rhythms, waves, and harmonic balance of a life connected closely with mother nature.
Episode 17- Liberating the Lungs
In the final day of Ocean Breathing we learn how to free our lungs from the emotion of grief. After a big outpouring of tears, you feel better, right? No, the intention of this meditation is not to make you cry or to depress you! But it does hope to empower you, in case you have any left over ghosts from the past that need to be released. After practicing this meditation, maybe, if you do cry, you won’t feel embarrassed about it; no longer will your ego have to come up with complicated schemes and elaborate plans to avoid feeling sad. And what lingers at the end of the day? A sense of peace, perhaps joy, and best of all a lightness, no longer do you have to carry the load.