The Hawaiian Way of the Adventurer

If you’re in my entourage then you are well acquainted with my (other) odd fascination with all things Hawaiian, and for everybody else this is me coming clean.

Magnum PI had a lot to answer for in the early years but as I have supposedly become a grown-up so have surf legends, the appeal of fierce raw Nature, Lomi Lomi massage and Hawaiian shamanism for some.

Huna

Serge Kahili King from whom I draw king-sized inspiration describes shamanism as a distinct form of healing and Hawaiian shamanism as a distinct form of shamanism. Whilst most shamans follow the path of the warrior aiming to develop power and combat skills in order to deal with fear, illness or disharmony, Hawaiian shamanism focuses on developing skills of love, cooperation and harmony. In that tradition illness is viewed as a self-generated effect of stress – which is a strong statement for sure but one that would make sense at least to a degree. And all Hawaiian words for healing have undertones of causing energy to flow, implying the release of stress-related tension.

Everything we do creates stress to a level but the patterns become un-natural when we deal with sustained stress. In a natural flow of life the cycles of stress and tension would be followed by relaxation but modern life often cuts us off from that relaxation period and we go from one stress to another building tension in the body and mind without an outlet.

Serge explains that the source of stress is resistance. There is a degree of natural resistance that we live with to function physically and deal with our circumstances but again resisting overly creates undue stress. You resist over and beyond healthy behaviour when you are in fear or anger, when your expectations do not meet what life and others can bring to the table, going into defence mechanisms. Hawaiian shamanism offers a rainbow of tools to re-pattern and create relaxation in the body and mind as well as implement healthier ways of living.

Pikopiko

A short relaxation technique for coming back to your core and calm whenever you need it: inhale with your attention on the top of your head, exhale with your attention on your navel. Intend to relax or be energized, whichever calls. Give up trying to move the energy or interfere in any other way, just continue giving your full attention to your breath and the top of your head and navel alternatively. Perfect for a quick energy boost.

Kaulike

Kaulike is a very simple seemingly casual but profoundly caring technique which literally means “balance or harmony” that Serge describes as a Magic Touch.

Simply “stand in front of the receiver and touch him or her with the fingers of alternating hands for about the length of two heartbeats on the crown, throat, chest, solar plexus, and navel. Then use both hands on either side of the body and touch in turn the jaws, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, ankles, and toes. Finish by raising your arms out to your sides and above your head, and sweeping your hands palm-outward down in front of the receiver to about hip level. That’s it.”

Performed with the right attitude from both the giver and receiver it engages your subtle energies, subconscious and conscious mind and does what it says on the tin.

Tiki

Tiki is a type of creative meditation – or object of meditation to be more precise – designed to develop powers of concentration and allow you to “journey” within and learn much about yourself as well as give you the opportunity to work on what you don’t like. It uses created images of sight, sound and feelings.

Here is one easy example:

“Imagine yourself in a meadow in springtime. A stream cuts across the meadow and you are seated beside it. Build this image in as detailed a way as possible, using every one of your senses. Feel the grass with your fingers. Dip a hand in the stream. Is there a breeze? Is it cool or warm? Do you hear birds or insects? Are there flowers? Can you smell them? Are you alone in the meadow? Is this a place you have been to before or seen in a picture, or is it brand new? Explore this meadow carefully with all your senses. This is going to be your place for re-attuning yourself to your own nature.

When you are ready, take a deep breath and bring yourself out of meditation to consider the experience. Was it pleasant, or did you experience things you didn’t like? The meadow represents one part of your mind. Your conscious mind creates the overall meadow pattern by design or intent, but your subconscious fills in most of the details. Anything that was imperfect in the meadow is a reflection of imperfections in your thinking.

If you can correct the imperfections in the meadow by using your creative imagination during meditation (e.g. cutting the grass if it’s too high to permit you to see anything) you will be taking a giant step towards correcting the problems they represent in your daily life. A careful analysis of everything in the meadow as if the whole thing were a reflection of yourself will increase your self-knowledge greatly.”

On you go

For those missing Ayurvedic specifics take a look at http://www.halepule.com a website and in-person as well as online programmes in Ayurveda founded by Myra Lewin out of Kaua’i, Hawaii. It is chockablock full of Ayurvedic tips and recipes.

The lovely Clare Raggozino of Vidya Living has also relocated to the islands and is a breathing living example of walking the path of Ayurveda.

And finally for those local to me here in Dorset, England I cannot recommend Alice’s kahuna  massage more if I tried for deep bodywork Hawaiian-style. http://www.AliceLilaFlynn.blogspot.co.uk

I leave you with a little sense of fun & adventure but practical solutions too. Hawaiian shamanism is very much of the opinion that if you meet an obstacle, say an animal that bears its teeth at you, you smile back. If that doesn’t work and nothing else does either, let it eat you, be transformed, come out the other side, and keep going. Basically try all the practical solutions and finally evolve with it, come out renewed and stronger.

This is a path of cooperation, community, solution-finding, way-finding, love and a very pragmatic lifestyle in a way that works and brings happiness. Now I’ve gone all Moana on you…

And of course it is very much to do with energy, raising your energy and building abundant Mana which is the Hawaiian equivalent to Prana, the life-force but with an added sense of confidence in yourself and your skills. Nothing wrong with that!

### I pinch a fair amount from Serge this week so if it appeals please do check out his books and his work with Aloha International.

The Longest Night

The Winter Solstice, shortest day of the year, longest night. It had me thinking a little.img_1502

This time of year the nights are clearly at their fullest and darkest though if you live in an urban area you really wouldn’t notice much. I was reading from a very unlikely source (an ode to black by Pantone) about “re-evaluating the colour black and the meaning of darkness”. Something I’ve actually “been into” for a while.

Our contemporary world is all about praising the light, the bright and shining. But as the nights draw in early can we consider the richness of experience found in darkness? Talking to my girl tonight about the stars being more visible in the dark skies in the little corner of France my parents live in, I am reminded of the importance of the dark.

Those winter months are opportunity for deep rest and space for going within and nurturing projects internally the way a mother carries a baby in her womb. It’s a time to stay in our cave and not overstretch physically, emotionally or energetically but to come back to healthy home routines that keep us grounded, rooted and present with what comes up for releasing. It is a time to honour your inner rhythms for more pause, easing off and allowing quiet. We shouldn’t be scared of the dark but see it as full of potential and a container for the light to come back, for ideas to fully shape before they are launched. Darkness is fecund, potent and fertile.

So I’m all in praise of black, not only is it slimming (tick) it is also the embodiment of slow, real and authentic. It gives flesh to the spirit. The light cannot be appreciated and created until after the shadows have been recognised, acknowledged and appreciated. You must tend to the wounds and the hidden aspects of yourself, those you don’t want people to see before you can be your full positive potential.

This might be particularly on topic considering the politics of the moment. Whatever is rising in the outside world that we are not liking needs to be addressed and in all likeliness it is rising so that we can address it. Only if you meet the dark can you free it and let it go, doing anything less will allow it to creep back again and again in the worst places and moments. I speak from experience.

The old stories speak of winter as the time when Persephone, the Greek Goddess descends into the Underworld to meet tests and trials, on the Solstice stories also tell of the Goddess bearing a son, bearing light and the return of the Sun. So we celebrate the dark and the light in equal measure, feeling glad for the return of the light, days getting longer again and the next phase of the season.

Happy Yule!

p.s. If you are on instagram and enjoy a cooking recommendation then here are the masters of sombre ambience playing on dark shades with earthy simple honest food: @thefreakytable, @linda_lomelino, @mademoisellepoirot, @twiggstudio, @evakosmasflores, @thekitchenmccabe, @silvia_salvialimone, @catherine_frawley and of course the one and always, who knows how to do dark & light in just as beautiful proportions @thelittleplantation

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Abracadabra!

img_1390Not long ago I read and chuckled at a post by Mammasaurus where she lashed out at the word ritual and its “all-trendy” status making it the rage these days. Now, I love the word ritual. I loved it all the way back when it was not the hype and puff it is now, blame the Owens sisters. And yes like her I realise its implied connotation of routine, domesticity, the habitual and ordinary. Yawn. But I also strongly feel we can turn this around on its head.

Ayurveda is all about daily practices and I think using the word rituals makes it exciting, fun and slightly sacred – as in my-body-is-a-temple kind of sacred. Ayurveda is literally practical magic for the body, mind and soul. The nourishment one gets from performing simple conscious acts every day in its due time firmly builds us up for strength, energy, and an all-around powerful sense of wellbeing.

Indian Summer or not, as we enter the witchy season with the end of summer harvest and Halloween not too far around the corner I am enchanted by all the little things Ayurvedic self-care preaches about the turning of the season. From cozying up at home in the evening looking for the warmth and the ceremony of tea to autumnal recipes of baked apples and the smell of spices in the cauldron. From a mushy bowl of kitchari garnered with garden vegetables and a drip of oil to family gathering around a good old hocus-pocus film and turning in early for well deserved ZZzzz-time. It’s all about the hubble-bubble, conjuring the joy and buoyancy of the colours and smells this time of year, the ripening of the natural rhythms of the earth cycles. At Mabon, the agricultural autumn equinox festival, we feast at the altar of life enjoying the fruits of our work in the kitchen. Add a healthy dose of mischief with cake and ale and Paul Hollywood would be proud! If this isn’t hygge then what is? Oh look at us, we’re right on trend again.

And as for the simplicity of Ayurveda, a wise wizard once said “And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” Happy birthday Roald Dahl!

P.s. Just for fun since we’re all about sorcery today here’s an interesting fact about Brownies. I never quite made it as a Brownie but I once was a Rainbow. So here in England it seems Brownies pledge allegiance to the Queen. I, on the other end, born and raised in France, pledged allegiance to Joan Of Arc. Burnt at the stake as a witch by the English. See the irony there?

 

The perks of a midlife crisis

img_1389Midlife. Years of running fast around the wheel like a hamster in a cage trying to make it big in the city then full 180. Drop off everything. Take on yoga teaching. Get wellies and an allotment. And now what? That sneaky little existential crisis that creeps up on you.

If you’re there (I’m there), you’ll know the signs.

Mind racing, low-level anxiety peaking in the middle of a perfectly sensible conversation about the practicalities of motherhood, rummaging lists over lists, life envy, music blasting off out loud in the car as you drive off the school run, maybe a little sob at Coldplay.

Now to be helpful if one can in the circumstances, what would you do?

BRING THE FUN BACK INTO THE SCHEDULE

Snatch it wherever you can, make it happen. Prioritise enjoyment and gratification at least once a day until you recover your spark. You can’t be fun if you’re not having fun so your being miserable is no good to anyone. It’s important to wangle some light-hearted pleasure into your day. If money and time are scarce you’ll need to be more resourceful. Imagination and creativity are the most playful tools you have. Put music on, think up a victory dance and get wild at it or check the internet for some inspiration. Tell yourself stories, eat what takes your fancy and make a moment that is not normally fun into a fun time for you.

For the right attitude Mama Gena’s School Of Womanly Arts has been dug out from under the bed where it had been gathering dust for the best part of 10 years (Oh the naughtiness). She describes pleasure, call it joy/fun whatever speaks best to you, as a self-discipline. It is so easy to be miserable day after day and wallow in self-pity. It is a lot harder and much more work to decide over and over again to focus on the good. You must put efforts into creating amusement and joy but the more you do the brighter you’ll feel and the quicker your life will actually start looking the way you want it to.

If you’re a mum follow @JetSetMama on instagram for a daily dose of laugh-out-loud sarcasm and self-deprecation.

And humour, humour, humour. If you’re a little light on the subject as I am then surround yourself with people who have it to share. Which brings me straight to my next point.

COMMUNITY

In my case sisterhood. Thanks to all my girlfriends for keeping me (half) sane, you know who you are ladies! Here is where I bow to all my girls near and far. Thanks for afternoon (and evening) vino in the garden whilst the 4-year-olds fight for themselves Lord-Of-The-Flies-style and thanks for endless Skype calls to Hawaii (hello Ella!). Big thanks for indulging me and listening at length whilst I fret about all the things I still want to do, the ones I’m freaking out about missing out on and mostly thanks to all those still keeping gracious whilst I ramble yet again about how much I miss London and “the life we had”. And no, nothing else will do, not even the pristine local dunes of Sandbanks. Cry me a river, life’s a beach. And by the way, the grass is greener on the other side.

Anyway… Very grateful for my ladies holding the space and allowing my quirks to pass but on a serious note: it takes a village.

It takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a village to raise a mother if you ask me. It takes a village to achieve anything of value that brims integration and happiness. So don’t isolate yourself. Make that phone call, accept that offer for help, pencil a date for coffee. Go out of your way to talk to people, and really listen. The greatest gift you can give anyone is to make them feel truly seen and heard, exactly what you’re after. Give it, get it. What goes around, comes around.

CHOSE HOW YOU WANT TO FEEL

The core of midlife crisis is that list of things you want to do that you haven’t yet and worry you never will. Perhaps that might be true, perhaps not. The quickest and most efficient way to achieve ticking all items on the list, or come as close to do so as possible, is identifying how you would feel if you did tick the items off. And basically the idea is that perhaps the exact form of what you want is not really that important but the feeling you want to obtain is – which can be created through a different mean, another kind of experience.

What is the emotion, sensation, desire that would be fulfilled by doing the deed? Zoom in on the essence of how you want to feel. Once you are clear and have a “new list” of feelings then go out and do every little thing you can do to feel that way as often as possible. This could be as simple as choosing to feel that way despite the circumstances (which is a sure magnetic force to allow actual situations to bring you that feeling with outside material objects/events) or introduce smaller/different ways to feel how you want to feel. You’ll be instantly better for it whatever the outcome.

So having a midlife crisis does have its perks. Self-proclaim having one and you’ve got your ticket to a little bad behaviour on the side (aka get away with murder) and way more fun.

These are my two-cents on the subject, now for a bit more meat look up Miranda Sawyer’s latest book Out Of Time. Highly entertaining and oh so spot on. She has chapters such as “Is this it?” which will resonate or the very fitting “Never mind the 90s”. Hell yeah I’m showing my age though I do have to admit to remembering the 90s somewhat differently, perhaps I had far too tame a time! And I should probably read more than 2 chapters before recommending but who has time?

One last call on friendship and community, perhaps a bit out of tone here but I do really love this quote by Starhawk: “We are all longing to go home to some place we have never been – a place, half-remembered, and half-envisioned we can only catch glimpses of from time to time. Community. Somewhere, there are people to whom you can speak with passion without having the words catch in your throats. Somewhere a circle of hands will open to receive us, eyes will light up as we enter, voices will celebrate with us whenever we come into our own power. Community means strength that joins our strength to do the work that needs to be done. Arms to hold us when we falter. A circle of healing. A circle of friends. Some place where we can be free.”

Now that seems like a good answer to my current nausea.

(P.s. Girlies, anyone wants to go see the latest Bridget Jones please P. M. me?)

4 tips to deal with fear and despair

img_1392It’s hard to describe how much satisfaction I get from reading and learning about Ayurveda continuously. This morning as I was randomly perusing through my collection of books I read these words which strike so right I want to share them with you exactly as I found them in Dr Robert Svoboda’s brilliant little book Ayurveda For Women: A Guide To Vitality And Health. Advice so simple it would appear airy fairy but in truth is rad if applied consciously. The following tips for dealing with fragmentation, fear, depression or related imbalances is just as pertinent whether you are a man, woman or young person. So here it is word for word:

“”

FINDING THE CENTRE

What is the answer? Reconnect with the center of life. Unless the life you create for yourself is flowing along in harmony with Nature’s flow, you will find yourself slogging through existential fear and despair as the firm ground beneath your feet slips away. If that should be happening to you, here are a few suggestions for gaining back some traction.

LOOK BACK. Remember a moment from your earlier life when you felt happy, healthy, safe, and relaxed. Maybe it was during your childhood or your adolescence, maybe during early adulthood. Whenever it was, return yourself completely to that moment, and let the feelings you had then flood you until you are swimming in them. Then, floating in that feeling, return your conscious mind to the present time and try to overlay your current condition with those pleasing feelings.

LOOK FORWARD. Consider ways in which you can simplify your life. If you don’t even have time to think, ferret out some time for yourself (if necessary, without letting anyone else know what you are doing) and do something with it that makes you feel really nurtured – even if that something is nothing more than taking a catnap. Once you are feeling rested and renewed, review your priorities carefully. You are sure to find something that you can eliminate, or postpone, or reduce, and when you do, you will be at least that much less fragmented.

LOOK AROUND. Find a mentor, a wise and trusted counselor. She/he need not be older than you, but it should be someone who is interested in you and who has a better perspective than you do on what is going on in your life. He/she may have practical hints on how to restructure, revitalise, and renew yourself, or may simply be a wise person who nourishes you with their presence alone. (…)

LOOK WITHIN. Mother Nature lives within us all, all of the time. Once you have learned to contact her, you will never feel lonely again. That moment from your past when you felt integrated and whole (…), the inspiration you receive when you take time for yourself to reflect is engendered by her. (…) Wherever you are, you can always put yourself in Nature’s presence, if you can learn where to find her.

“”

I leave you with a link to my Boundless Energy programme page where I have now added a course modules outline for tease. All being well I am working to launch in the last term of the year. If it appeals make sure to be in touch.

 

 

Going sugar-free + my quinoa salad recipe

It’s spring clean time!

On Monday I start Sarah Wilson’s 8-weeks “I Quit Sugar” programme. Who’s in?

After reading articles and glimpses of her work here and there for a few years I’ve finally got myself equipped with the books and going all at it. Sarah has a very practical, clear and fact-based approach which makes total sense. If you think you have a sugar addiction (who doesn’t?) or just want to lighten up the load and cleanse the system as is most recommended in spring then she’s your girl.

The fact that she is a big fan of Ayurveda is just icing on the cake… without the sugar spike.

 

img_1391For more information on Ayurvedic cleansing read my previous post here.

And if you fancy the challenge of the sugar-free programme then in a tiny nutshell the menu is lots of good fats, nuts, seeds, lots of proteins, vegetables especially the green kind. Start including more superfoods and make coconut oil your friend.

So here enters my quinoa salad, anyone who knows me will know this is my cooking-for-dummies one-trick-pony party dish. Nothing too clever but a whole lot of goodness.

Ingredients:

quinoa

feta cheese

dill

tomatoes

cucumbers

pine nuts

sesame seeds

olive oil

lemon juice

turmeric

salt

pepper

lots of all the above, a good shake and go.

Alberto Villoldo in One Spirit Medicine gives a very interesting take on the sugar-free detox if you need more inspiration. Different angle clearly, he’s a shaman!

 

 

3 tiny steps to hugely better digestion


cropped-image.jpgAs I am preparing a small presentation on Ayurvedic nutrition for my local Satsang, my yoga community meet-up, it dawns on me again how vast Ayurveda is and how much there is to share if I want to do it right. But top of the list is a priority to not overwhelm oneself with a million different rules and rather look for balance in all things, keeping in mind harmony and equilibrium.

So here are 3 quick tips you can use today to support your digestion:

  1. SPICE YOUR FOOD with gentle warming herbs that are bitter or pungent. Some good detoxification herbs are cumin, ginger or small amounts of cayenne  – but refer to your dosha or the state of your digestion before taking spice though. Generally speaking Vata and Kapha body types will benefit from warming spices but Pitta must be careful and restrain their intake at the risk of over-heating the body and the mind (loose bowels, irritation, frustration, anger showing as possible signs). The idea is that if you have a slow or irregular digestive system you will enjoy and profit from spices but if you have an overactive, fast digestive system which burns through the food quickly without taking nourishment then you are best sticking to a mild diet with very little or no spice.
  2. THE OPTIMUM PORTION SIZE: in Ayurveda it is recommended to eat only to 2/3rd of your ability, leaving space in the belly for the digestive juices to do their work. Portion size in Ayurveda are often related to a handful called an anjali in Sanskrit. It is thought that the perfect portion size is 2 anjalis or 2 handfuls cupped together of whatever your meal is made of (ideally on the healthy side of the sprectrum).
  3. MEAL SPACING: only take food in after you have fully digested your previous meal. Digesting a full meal takes up to 6 hours. If you are in the process of digesting food, taking in more food will slow down a fully firing digestive process and result in semi-digested food in the body creating ama, the Sanskrit word for toxins and debris that clutter the system. It will confuse your lymphatic system and even result in fuzzy, spacey thinking. In that sense, it is not advised to snack. Should you feel famish as Vata types are more likely to be if they don’t eat regularly then focus on easily digestible, light food. Fruits are your best option especially as Ayurvedic food combining principle highlight fruits as best digested when eaten away from other foods, to avoid a sour tummy.

Small steps to rejuvenate your digestion. What’s that for a plan – will you try?

 

Figs & Pomegranates as Superfoods

Superfoods are nutritional gems the supermarkets have all clocked on. But have you ever heard of figs and pomegranates as superfoods? You’re about to. According to Ayurveda both are tridoshic meaning that they are nourishing and supportive of all 3 doshas, the 3 basic humours (see here for a reminder). Their composition makes them highly antioxidant and rejuvenating. Zoom in below:

FIGS

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Figs are an excellent tonic for energy and vitality. In Ayurveda they qualify as rich in ojas, the essential energetic sap and immunity. Due to their nutrients and high fiber they are a good detoxifier, diuretic and emollient. Figs are considered a blood purifier and activate blood circulation. They are full of vitamins B which are excellent for protection of the micro- blood vessels. Again figs are nourishing, antioxidant and rejuvenating. They’re rich in minerals which restore the metabolism and repair the internal equilibrium of the gut.

In Ayurvedic terms figs calm excess Vata and soothe excess Pitta. They help balance the air and fire elements within the body and mind, generally helping to ground. Ayurveda maintains that natural foods have an inner intelligence which goes far beyond the breakdown of the nutritional elements – an intelligence carried through Rasa (the taste of foods) which communicates with the natural intelligence of our body and mind to properly feed and heal our organism. With this in mind figs are known in Ayurveda to be neuro-sedative, they are helpful in long-time grief and sadness, feelings of solitude or isolation, helping with emotional pain. They are comforting and bring fresh energy that can alleviate sadness and enhance confidence, ease and a sense of wellbeing.

They’re also a laxative, helping elimination. Figs disperse excess heat and harmonise the body’s temperature in Pitta types, soothing inflammatory conditions including those affecting mucous in the body and irritation of the lungs. They even appear to cool overly fiery temperaments.

And here I have the most beautiful illustration, all credits to Kimberly Espinel at The Little Plantation. I have been following Kimberly’s blog for almost as long as it’s been spreading its wings and with the same glee every time I open a new post. Kimberly is exquisitely talented in presenting through her work a passion for “vegetarian, vegan and raw vegan food for the whole family”. Not only is she a genius at designing inspired healthy recipes but she has a delightful eye for beauty that beams through her photography. I am deeply grateful that she has offered me a couple of her beautiful pictures to ornate my website. Thank you! And please go over to check her Vegan Fig And Kale Pesto Pizza.

POMEGRANATES

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Pomegranates are one of the most nutrient dense potent health food you could find and though we in the west are more used to eating the seeds or drinking the juice, all parts of the flower, leaves, bark and peel are known to be used with powerful benefits. Pomegranates are also tridoshic, they are high in vitamin C, potassium and fibre. They are sweet in taste which in Ayurveda makes them cooling, soothing, astringent and mild. The first obvious benefit it derives quenching thirst and hydrating the body. These qualities also reduce fire in the system, and pomegranates are excellent for aggravated Pit ta digestion – the first consequence of which would be loose bowels, diarrhoea and related IBS symptoms such as stomach acidity and low metabolism due to low digestive enzymes.

Their antibacterial qualities makes them a good food to take when fighting parasites and viral infections or simply to boost the immune system. Pomegranates are overall very healing and balancing. They are cooling and pacifying for aggravated Pitta heat in the stomach and also the blood, skin, eyesight and even emotions. Use of pomegranates for cooling a fever is possible.

They are very effective in preventing ama (Sanskrit word for toxins) in the lymphatic system and plasma which in turn enhances the health of the blood, blood pressure and circulation. They are said to lower cholesterol.

Pomegranates are strengthening all around including being considered a tonic for the heart and benefiting blood vessels. Without going too much into the how’s and why’s which I haven’t for lack of space (check out Ayurvedic sources if you’re interested) pomegranates enhance oxygenation to the brain and body as well as circulation of nutrients and energy.

Scientific research shows that they also protect against osteoarthritis.

On a mental level they may help focus and clarity.

Quite the list, isn’t it?

Time to give another credit to photographer Cheryl Juetten who provided the striking picture above which will also start appearing in the banner on the website.

And what better time for me to pick up my copy of Sue Monk Kidd’s Travelling With Pomegranates, a mother and daughter journey I aspire to take one day.

Need some cooking ideas? I take you back to Kimberly with this Roasted Red Kuri Squash With Sumac, Pomegranates And Greens.

As you may have noted though, I am a little late with the season this year in terms of “harvest” time so of course my advice is eat seasonally if you can.

Wishing you all health & happiness this Yule!

 

Make it a habit

Working on my online course today, I am writing about evolving and creating new healthy habits, starting by considering our “crimes against wisdom” or Pranjapradha as Yoga and Ayurveda calls it. It sounds very serious and scary but basically why do we continue to do what we know is not good for us? All this to say that thanks to Amy Landry’s last newsletter I came across this great little TEDx talk about “crimes against wisdom”. Not so scary I promise, quite inspiring actually…

Divine feminine vs masculine, or the Sacred Union

“… we are experiencing a profound division between masculine and feminine that is evident in our bodies and lives. The absence of the feminine and the domination of a distorted masculine is both destructive and unsustainable, manifesting many structures that are harmful to the earth and our very existence. As we restore our connection to the feminine, we will witness the rise of a vibrant masculine.” Tami Lynn Kent in Wild Feminineimg_1393

My interest in the divine feminine was sparked about 15 or so years ago, initiated first by my readings and a thirst to find healthier feminine role models. I was following a need deep inside to find a softer side to myself and to heal my wounded feminine. Because let’s be honest this is a man’s world. A world that has focussed all its energy and respect to a very specific set of male qualities, not only denying the feminine but also strip-ing the masculine from its full potential by only recognising value in an action-based, result-driven, forceful, pugnacious, combative hunter kind-of-guy.

I’m still trying to work it all out for myself but it is very satisfying to see today women all around the world rising together with a similar collective message.

“Women being Nature’s impulse to manifestation, the man who values manifestation will respect women as Nature’s greatest boon, but the man who fears life will regard the female as the worst thing in the world.”  Dr Robert E.Svoboda in Ayurveda for Women

Witnessing the events of the world the past year it couldn’t be more obvious to the general onlooker that the world has a profound need to reclaim the feminine, to acknowledge the values of education, family bonds, home-making, love, care, sustainability, connection, cooperation and a subtler kind of politics. Women and feminine qualities have always been at the heart of healthy communities, birthing culture, creating art, making medicine, preserving the earth and our food sources, allowing evolution.  Monica Sjoo & Barbara Mor in their book The Great Cosmic Mother go as far as claim that evidence is there tangibly to show that many basic life industries were the invention of women. Industries that are still all around us today though mostly exploited and mechanised to fit the modern male-led world.

So again it is a positive movement in the right direction to see women everywhere rise in solidarity to bring change and reign in on the patriarchal model of society that’s been the norm for too long.

“The feminine and masculine parts of the self must be united and balanced for your soul to be fully realised. And it’s your relationships that hold up a mirror showing you the wounded or unfinished parts of your soul that are missing, that need to be healed, discovered, transformed.” Phyllis Curott in The Love Spell

But the feminine alone cannot bring wholeness. For us as individuals and communities to heal and grow we need to bring forth the feminine as well as allow the masculine standards to widen and regain their full stature. When the feminine gets acknowledged and integrated then the masculine instead of being a shadow mirror of the womanly arts we have denied can finally become its full self, embracing all aspects of itself. The masculine will be allowed to embrace its feelings and emotions, not shut them down. It will recognise that there is more to life than the accumulation of possessions and climbing the corporate ladder, reclaiming it’s true nature without the masks. It will understand that the ways of controlling and taming are limited and fail to bring long term prosperity. And it will be given the opportunity to re-align with the Earth and her cycles, gaining deep soul nourishment.

“But until Shiva and Shakti met, their respective qualities had remained barren, devoid of dynamic creativity. Each was waiting for the missing energy that would awaken his or her enlightened completion and allow them both to realise their unique mission…” Margot Anand in The Art Of Every Day Ecstasy

The idea of healing the relationship between the feminine and the masculine within oneself is not new.

Jung talked about the Anima and the Animus, similar to the Yin and the Yang, the old myths of Ariadne and Dionysus, Isis and Osiris. It is the right & left hemispheres of the brain, and the Ida and the Pingala channels in the body. It is at the root of Hatha Yoga. Ha representing the sun or solar (masculine) force and tha representing the moon or lunar (feminine) force. The deeper work of Hatha yoga is very much to do with balancing the masculine and feminine energies in the body.

“The heroine’s journey begins with separation from the feminine and ends with integration of masculine and feminine” Maureen Murdoch in The Heroine’s Journey

It seems to me women have an innate way of understanding divinity as immanent, not placed outside of us on a stark pedestal, but understanding that we are the sacred embodied, the whole of creation is. A message worth sharing in these sad times following the terrorist attacks in Paris. I understand the French (well I am French after all) bringing a message that they want nothing to do with religion and that they do not care for other religious messages to counteract the evil that was done. And I am not talking religion, I am talking spirituality.

“The inner man and woman are psychological, emotional, and spiritual realities alive within us” Margot Anand

Internalising the feminine may very well help us all clear some deep old wounds and “mend the fragmented places inside” that Sue Monk Kidd talks about in another great read The Dance Of The Dissident Daughter. The repression of the values of the feminine have created some real imbalances in men and women alike which are generating some of the real life crisis that are arising now.

“… we have no need for a society of fretful man-children and women-children who are divided into hostile “feminist” and “men’s movement” camps, continually tossing stones at one another.” Dr Eric E.Svoboda in Ayurveda for Women

But it won’t be enough to re-ignite the feminine. Again this is all about balance and harmony of both the feminine and masculine – supporting both equally in their more honourable expressions out in society and firstly within ourselves. The work begins at home.