meditation

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Upcoming Appearances, Workshops, etc

Published November 20, 2014 by ireneglasse

The cold wind blows, but light and warmth glow brightly within!  I have a few upcoming events you should know about, all available to brighten the long, cold darkness of winter.

Wednesday, November 26th (Thanksgiving Eve), 7 pm
Harmonious Healing at Ananda Shala Yoga and Pilates Studio

Relax and Re-Center before the Holiday Weekend with a special offering from studio owner Aimee McBride! Harmonious Healing incorporates Yoga Nidra, Somatic Yoga and Reiki (provided by Reiki Master Irene Jericho during the class). Find release in mind, body and spirit as Aimee guides you through gentle movement and meditation while you receive light healing energy work. Yoga Nidra, or ‘yogi sleep’ is among the deepest possible states of relaxation one can attain while still maintaining full consciousness. Lucid dreaming is the Western term used to denote a practice similar to yoga nidra. Somatic Yoga offers exercises that reprogram muscles to dissolve chronic pain, dramatically improve flexibility, regain strength, and leave you with an overall sense of peace and wellbeing. Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by a laying on of hands. A treatment feels like a wonderful glowing radiance that flows through and around you. Reiki treats body, emotions, mind and spirit. creating many beneficial effects that include relaxation and feelings of peace, security and wellbeing.  Facebook event here.
 Cost: $20, click here to register
Saturday, November 29th, 9 am and 11 am
Thanksgiving Recovery Yoga at Ananda Shala Yoga and Pilates Studio
Come work off the calories and release any stress from Thanksgiving and Black Friday!  The 9 am class is an All Levels Prana Flow Yoga Class lasting an hour and a half.  I plan to do a lot of detox-supporting asana to help return our bodies to homeostasis after the Thanksgiving feasting.  The 11 am class is a Level One–perfect for those beginning their practice or simply looking for a more gentle flow.
Click here to register
Sunday, December 7th at 7 pm
Full Moon Labyrinth Walk at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick
Need a chance to recenter in the midst of the holiday crush?  Come enjoy the beauty and peace of the Labyrinth by the light of the full moon! The labyrinth will be illuminated from 7:00 pm till 9:00 pm. Everyone is welcome. During the cooler months, we take our Labyrinth practice indoors, and will be walking the Rainbow Seed Labyrinth, a canvas Classical-pattern Labyrinth. Please remember clean socks or slippers to walk the Labyrinth in.  If you haven’t walked a Labyrinth before, there is no ceremony or ritual. We put out the little flickering LED tealights and just keep the space open 🙂  Please bring a small contribution for the UUCF.  Facebook event here.
Friday, December 12th, 7 pm
Mala Circle/Mala Making Workshop at Ananda Shala Yoga and Pilates Studio
The yogic answer to the Stitch’n’Bitch!  Join our Mala Circle to learn and relax while you create your very own mala!  Free for those who already  know how to make a mala and bring their own supplies, $20 for those needing the workshop instruction. Ananda Shala Instructor Irene Jericho will share her method for creating a Mala, a strand of 108 beads used for meditation.Create one for yourself or as a beautiful gift for a special person in your life.  A mala is a necklace of 108 beads commonly worn and used by yogis for for keeping count while reciting, chanting, or mentally repeating a mantra. This practice is known in Sanskrit as “japa.” Malas are as personal as the yogis who wear them–let your creativity shine in this fun, interactive workshop. Irene will provide good beading thread to string your mala, instruction, a handout detailing the technique we will use, examples of mantras, and other tips and tricks for getting the most out of your mala.  Facebook event and supply list here, click here to register if you plan to take the workshop portion.
Thursday, January 1st, 7 pm at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick
New Year’s Day Purification Ritual
Enter 2015 from a centered place of peace. Release the energies of the last year, and set a harmonious tone for the year to come. Sacred Space will be held from 7 to 9 pm in the Sanctuary of the UUCF.  Attendees are invited to move through the Elements, releasing the shadows of 2014 as they go. Elemental Guides will be available at each Quarter to offer a way to move into the energy of a new year. End your Purification journey with a walk to the center of the Labyrinth to receive any messages for the new year. All are welcome to attend.  Free will donations are welcome.
Friday, January 16th, 7 pm
Darkest Yoga at Ananda Shala Yoga and Pilates Studio
Inspired by Black Yo)))ga in Pittsburgh and Tough Love Yoga in Atlanta while paying homage to our area’s own Darkest Hour, Darkest Yoga combines flow yoga and atmospheric heavy metal to serve the greater Washington, D.C. community.  Irene Jericho (RYT 200) will be guiding you through your 75-minute moving meditation with some killer tunes over the PA. Enjoy a stripped-down, alignment-focused, no-fluffy-stuff yoga class with Ananda Shala’s own Heavy Metal Yogini.  Cost: $15 in advance/ $20 at the door
Sunday, February 1st, 7 pm
Kindling the Fire Within: An Imbolc Yoga Practice at Ananda Shala Yoga and Pilates Studio
Winter’s darkness lingers with us still. Naked branches scrape the sky and night falls early. We crave the warmth of summer while we navigate an often snow-covered landscape. Yet in the midst of night, there is a glimmer of brightness–a tangible reminder of the sun-filled days yet to come. This light in the cold winter stillness is Imbolc. The word Imbolc is derived from the Gaelic word “oimelc” which means “ewes milk”. Herd animals have either given birth to the first offspring of the year or are expecting new life very soon. Join Irene Jericho for a transformative Imbolc yoga practice as we ignite the fire within and find warmth from the heart out. Live hand drumming will accompany the journey from darkness to light, from stillness to asana, from silence to music. Ignite your own Winter Fire, and allow the light to carry your practice into spring.  Participants are encouraged to wear white or light-colored clothing to practice in.  Cost: $20

The Season of Samhain: Speaking to the Spark within the Darkness

Published October 27, 2013 by ireneglasse

This morning I was very honored and grateful to have an opportunity to speak at my church on the subject of Samhain.  Video of my talk is below, the transcript below that 🙂

My name is Irene.  I facilitate the monthly full moon labyrinth walks here, teach the Thursday morning yoga class and I’m a member of CUUPS – the Covenant of UU Pagans.  As the natural world around us begins to shift toward darkness and the cycle of stillness, one of the Pagan high holidays is upon us.  I’d like to talk to you this morning about Samhain.

When I was 13, one of my closest friends lost a lengthy battle with childhood leukemia.  It was my first big death.  The one that changes everything about how you see the world.  I come from a wonderful family, but a bit of a WASP-y one.  We are understated and rational.  And like many families in our culture, we didn’t really have a way to talk about grief.  My experience of mourning within this culture was that you’re given a month, maybe more, to be upset.  And then you’re expected to get on with it.  To just get better.  Get over it.  And by that I think we mean repress our feelings so they don’t trouble anyone else.

But my own experience of grief is that it doesn’t end.  It doesn’t go away.  It transforms, slowly, over time, but it never ends.  It never just goes away.

I think part of what initially drew me to Paganism, to Wicca, at age 15, was the holiday Samhain.   As a whole, Pagans believe the soul continues after death.   We also honor the cycles of nature, the Wheel of the Year, and connect to its turning on a very deep level.  At this time in the world around us, the leaves are falling, leaving branches to clatter in the wind like so many bones.  The growing season is ending.  Shifting into the season of death, and increasing darkness.  We believe that at this time, as death appears around us, so too do the souls of those who have gone before.  We believe that the Veil between the living and the dead grows thin.  Thin enough, that those who have gone before can hear us, can see us, and can sometimes speak across that great divide.

We build ancestral altars at this time.  Both for our distant ancestors, and for the dear ones who have gone on ahead of us.  Altars can be simple or complex.  Sometimes it’s just taking out the old photos and putting them on the mantle where everyone can see them.  Sometimes it’s a special table covered in pictures, decorations, objects we associate with our lineage.  We make our loved ones’ favorite dishes for family meals.  We visit cemeteries to clean off the graves, and decorate them anew.  And most importantly, we have a space for grief.  For allowing those places inside us to breathe.  A space to speak the words aloud: I miss you.  And to know that they are heard.  A chance to connect.  Every year.  A visit with the Other Side.  I spend a lot of October talking to my friend, to my grandmother, in the quiet spaces of my day.  I can feel them in the air.  Sense them drawing near.

The night of the 31st is when the Veil is thinnest.  It’s why it’s called the Witches New Year—our cycle ends, and then begins, at the death of the growing season.  Samhain Night sees big rituals honoring those who have gone before.   Some traditions do a Recitation of the Dead.  A calling of names.  Others create a Dumb Feast: a table laid out of doors, beautifully decorated for the season, and carrying the dishes our lost loved ones and ancestors most enjoyed.  That they may eat, drink and be merry, in their own way, when they visit.  Personally, I gather with a close group of Pagans.  We stand in a circle, and we speak about those we wish to honor.  We talk to our families, to our friends who have gone beyond.  We pour out libations on the ground to each.  We cry.  We laugh.  We tell the old stories, and sing the old songs.  And every year, that aching place inside us that is grief has a moment to be soothed.  A chance to breathe.  A moment between one year and the next, between the worlds of time and place, when we come to stillness and communion.

It is that stillness, that inner quiet, that we carry with us into winter.  For Pagans, the dark season is a time to go within—to do deeper, more personal work on ourselves.  Like our furry, four-legged brothers and sisters on this earth, we hibernate.  We turn inward, and seek our own illumination there.

It’s easy to get distracted in the warm months—there’s so much to do!  Festivals to attend, projects to start, visits, vacations…  When the light begins to fade, though, a different kind of work can begin.  What did you lose this year?  What quiet places inside you are aching from neglect?  We expend so much energy on the needs of others.  Have you remembered to tend your own flame?  It’s okay if the answer is no.  I know it definitely is for me.  That’s the other part of why I look forward to Samhain so much.

This month, I’m redecorating my home altar and beginning an 18-day sadahana: a Sanskrit word for a spiritual practice with a specific goal in mind.  I’m working on integration; on trying to get all the pieces of me to be a more cohesive whole.  I have a sub-goal of deeper connection, on every level.  To deity, to myself, to my life.  During that 18 day sadhana, I will spend time every day focusing on my goal.  I will use prayer, meditation and physical yoga postures to help me on my way.  It’s the beginning of what I think of as my Winter Work.  My time to do some repair and upgrades on myself.

I realize that it may sound like a lot of work.  I take the inner space exploration of winter pretty seriously.  But honoring the energy of the dark season doesn’t have to be so elaborate.  It can simply be finding a little space in your morning to set an intention for your day.  To choose stillness for just a moment.  It could be turning off the TV and putting away the smartphone a little earlier in the evening to allow for some quiet time.  A space away from distraction and discussion.  You could start journaling.  Or maybe it’s time to read that book you’ve been meaning to pick up.  The season of death is also the season of renewal.

You see, at Samhain, we go underground as well.  Cycles occur in more than the world around us.  It’s so easy to forget, with all our technology, all our bread and circuses, that we are a part of nature; not separate from it.  And like the trees and animals, we need time to rest and nurture ourselves for the next growing season.  We too grow weary after a long summer.  We tire and fade, and need to go into darkness for a time.  We renew there, heal the wounds, tend the fire within.  And then we emerge again.  It is my hope to step out into spring as a better version of myself.  A more authentic, more grounded Irene.

I think most of all, Samhain speaks to the spark within the darkness.  The loved ones that exist beyond death.  The light within us that shines on the darkest of days.  The comfort of a warm hearth on a cold night.  This is the gift, and the lesson, of this season.  That the Wheel of the Year turns, and we turn with it.  That a journey into the night is not something to be feared.  It is simply a part of the cycle.

May this season see you blessed with space, with peace, with stillness.  A blessed Samhain to you all.  Thank you.

Fire Labyrinth

Published October 5, 2013 by ireneglasse

In advance to next weekend’s trip to Twilight, a good friend offered to host a Dark Moon Labyrinth Walk with a special treat–a labyrinth of Fire!  Small clip from initiating the burn below.  Enjoy!

 

Twilight Covening

Published July 16, 2013 by ireneglasse

I try not to push my own ideas and experiences on other people.  Don’t get me wrong–if you ask me what I think of something, I’ll tell you the truth.  But I don’t like telling other people what to do.  We’re all so different, so varied, so unique in our needs and perspectives, that pushing my solutions on another person could be as useful as trying to put out a fire with a can of gasoline.

That said, I do have one full endorsement for those of you on the Earth-centered-spirituality Path.  Go to Twilight Covening.  Don’t worry, it has nothing to do with sparkly vampires.  The name refers to the transition between light and darkness, and has been the title of the festival since 1986.  Twilight Covening is a retreat in Massachusetts, and a beautifully intense one.  I’m going again this year, and it will be my fourth year attending.  I’ve pasted my reflections from previous years below.  Read them.  And then go register.  It’ll do you a world of good.

I’ll begin with the reflections from my first year attending, since this particular missive explains a bit about how Twilight runs.

October 13th, 2010

This is for the Pagans, or those of you who have been curious about some of the Pagan stuff I do.  Everyone else, these are not the droids you’re looking for.

This past weekend (Friday-Monday), I attended Twilight Covening in Massachusetts for the first time.  It’s a four day spiritual retreat for those on the Pagan path and this past Covening was its 25th year.

There are a lot of things from this past weekend that I’m still processing and am not ready to talk about yet.  Maybe I never will be.  Some things there are no words for.  So what I’m going to try to do is tell you about the space, the environment that Twilight creates and envelops you in.  Perhaps that will be enough to give you an idea of what’s happening up North.

Imagine four days of ritual space.  The ritual begins in the evening on Friday, when everyone arrives.  The initial circle is formed, the energy spreads out.  And the energy…  There are around 200 people there.  Every single one is there because they have chosen to devote four days to intense spiritual, emotional and psychological work. Imagine ritual space infused by the focus of our most committed practitioners.  And that those committed practitioners stand to the right and left of you, holding your hands.

Now we add to that.  That ritual space is constantly actively held.  At all times, a Clan (usually 6-18 people) is actively concentrating on maintaining the spiritual connection of the space.  They lend their energy to help your connection, to help you focus, to help you on your path.  At. All. Times.  Night or day, you are energetically guarded, enhanced and protected by a team of dedicated energy workers.  Even while you sleep, they help you stay attuned.

Now we add to that.  Everyone is there because they want to work as hard as you do.  Everyone is there because they are actively trying to improve themselves, to heal, to connect, to grow.  So everyone you talk to is sharing a lot of the same things you are going through.  Everyone there wants you to succeed.  The people you interact with honor your trust.  They listen when you share your insecurities, your fears, your weaknesses, and do not trivialize or brush off.  Instead, they try to find ways to help you.  They pray and laugh and weep with you.  They help you find ways to lower your shields and to reach out in ways you didn’t know you could.

Now we add to that.  Your specific Clan is even closer to your own path.  Clans are small–the largest I saw was maybe 18 people.  They are led by one or two facilitators–some of the most accomplished Priests and Priestesses our tribe has to offer.  The Clan you are in is specific in its focus.  The people closest to you not only share your goal of working on your spirituality, but they share some of the specifics of that goal.  You eat, sleep and work with your Clan.  You share and learn from each other.  You hold each other while you cry, you raise energy together, you joyously witness the steps each Clan member takes forward because you know just how hard they were to take.  You’ve been taking those steps yourself.

Now we add to that.  The space that you are in is breathtaking in natural beauty.  You’re on top of a mountain in the Berkshires.  There is no light pollution, so the sky at night is a sea of stars.  The trees are in a full autumnal riot of color and their vibrant tones are reflected in the lake.  There are boulders and tall pines, towering oaks and birds singing.  There are spaces for quiet reflection, there are spaces for intimate conversation, there are spaces for group work.  There are even spaces for silliness.  Mirth, after all, is the counterpoint to Reverence.

These words can only capture a fragment of what that space feels like.  I wish I could give you the memory of that feeling.  I wish I could cover the world with it.

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that you should go.  If you’re on the Pagan path, if you’re working on your spirituality, Go.  Set aside those days for next year now.  Start setting aside the money now.  Go.  Please Go.  You probably need this as much or more than I did.  And I needed it.  I needed it the way a rose needs the sunlight.

Go to Twilight with me next year.  Our tribe has built something beautiful in Massachusetts.  You should feel it, too.

Reflections from my second year: October 11th, 2011

Some days are all about Gratitude.  Today is a day like that.

I got home late last night from Twilight Covening, a four day spiritual retreat for those of us on paths of Earth based spirituality.  It was my second year attending the retreat and as ever, I find myself struggling to put into words the beauty and depth of the experience.  The overriding emotion, the greatest arc and simplest expression I can find within my thoughts, is Gratitude.

I am grateful for the Space.  For the trees as they slip into their autumn colors, for the deep blue of the lake, for the rushing of the streams that race down the mountain to meet it.  I am grateful for the boulders warmed by the sun and silvered in moonlight.  I am grateful for the open fields of soft grass where we stand in circle, create labyrinths in flour, spread out our yoga mats or simply lie down to recharge our solar batteries.  I am grateful for the quiet of the northern forest, and the way it gently reaches out to soothe our senses.

I am grateful for the Community.

For the circle of Elders who somehow felt the call in the wind from those of us who wander.  Pagans do not have Churches.  We do not have sprawling infrastructures to support us.  In many cases, we walk almost totally alone.  If we’re lucky, we have some friends to share the path with.  If we’re lucky, we somehow manage to find our way.  And now I know that we are lucky, for the hearts at the center of EarthSpirit felt the song inside our wandering souls, and made a space in which to sing it.  The love and work and joy and energy our Elders put into the retreat is a palpable force, reaching out to embrace all the drifting leaves the autumn blows in.

For the Clan Leaders who choose to spend four days in service to the Twilight community as a group, and specifically to a small group on a particular, focused path.  These wonderful people, some of the best and brightest Priests, Priestesses, Shamans, Yogis and Pathworkers our community has to offer, wait for us with open arms.  They embrace us as we walk in, help us shed the layers of dust, pain, sorrow and stress we carry.  They wrap us in their attention and guide us.  They hold a lantern to light our way.  They hold our hands as we take the first steps.  They share our triumphs, our baby steps into a better place.  They love us and teach us.  They celebrate and grieve with us.  And they do this out of a desire to serve, to help, to midwife transformation in others.

For all of the attendees of Twilight Covening.  We come from our jobs, from our families and stresses.  We come from places of joy, places of work, places of pain.  We come from all over the country.  And we join hands and hearts.  We raise our voices together in song and chant.  We eat and talk and laugh together.  We share our paths with each other.  We marvel at each other’s stories, and at the lights that come on inside ourselves when we realize that we are not alone.  We travel into ritual together, into altered states.  We journey, we work.  And we become a family through that process.  Whether we smile, grieve, pathwork or meditate, we do it in the spiritual and often physical embrace of our family.  Of the Twilight Tribe.

I am grateful for the Experience.  For the moments that dance in my memory, that illuminate and warm.  They will feed me this winter.  They will carry me into Spring.  They will dance with me in Summer, and they will follow me back to Twilight next year, to collect more threads for the tapestry.

I am grateful for Fires in which we burn the things that hold us back.  I am grateful for the drums that echo, for the flames in the night, for the stars that see our work.  I am grateful to release, and to then turn about and push energy toward the releasing of others.

I am grateful for the soft, sweet chanting in a space for Dreams.  For the music of harp and flute, for a place to come to stillness.  I am grateful for the inner quiet, and for a chance to foster that quiet in others.

I am grateful for Ritual.  For the passage through a waking dream.  For learning, and growing, and flowing.  I am grateful for the transformation of pain into joy.  Of walking in darkness alone to walking toward a fire on a moonlit field where dancers spin, singers weave their voices in song and healing flows like water.

I am grateful for Celebration.  For dancing for hours beneath that almost-full moon.  For feeling so much joy, so much love, so much connection, that the only way to express it is to dance.

I am grateful for Twilight Covening.  For the thousand little and big things that make it what it is.  For the dozens of people who work to create a space of Mystery.  For the light that burns so brightly inside me for having been there.

And so it is with these words that I close.  Come with me next year.  The door that you are seeking exists.  The path beyond it is real and is waiting for you.  And the forest where that path begins?

It’s at Twilight Covening.

And, at last, this past year’s thoughts.  October 10th, 2012

The nights grow longer, and for those of us within Earth-centric spiritual practices, the year is winding down.  Thoughts are of endings–the final gathering of summer’s gifts from the garden, the last outdoor rituals and festivals, the thinning Veil around us.  The voices of the Ancestors and Spirits grow stronger.  We prepare for work, for the inner journey of the dark season.  Walk beneath the open skies to hear the song yourself.

Listen to the trees.  The green world calls out, the pulse of life thumping through the rough cloak of bark at your touch.  Place your hands upon their bodies.  Feel the vibration of the autumn wind passing through upper branches.  Close your eyes and listen.  They hum, sway and sing a song of Time.  Feel that tide pulling you in, pulling toward darkness.  Breathe.  Follow the song down into their roots, spreading out beneath you.  Let the wave wash over you.  The endless current of roots to crown to roots, the slow drawing-in of sap for the winter.  The trees are Centering.  Feel the balance of an inward shift.  Sink.

Listen to the rocks.  There is a bliss in the quiet stones, gently humming with a sound both bright and low.  A stillness carries up from their secret hearts, passing into the warm hands resting on their craggy surfaces.  Feel them.  An echo touches the human caress, passes into you.  Hear their endless song of dark to light to dark.  Sink in.  Lean against the boulders.  Breathe.  Let the pulse take you deep into the ground.  Feel the turning, the tilting of the Earth.  The song of winter coming, the song of darkness lives in the ore beneath your hands.

Listen to the night.  Let the cloak of the long shadow wrap around you.  Hear the wind sing, the calls of the night animals, the crackle of footsteps on dry leaves.  Lean into the coming quiet and feel your heart beating warmth into the cool air.  Turn within.  You see, you hum as well.  A rhythmic song crackling with both the fire and frailty of our human shells.  Listen.  Let the endless cycle of heart to limbs to heart take you deeper.  Breathe.  Feel your song turning you inward, gathering closer to the light within, the candle in the night.

Listen to the Song.  The eternal hymn of Time.  This is the family we share, these vibrations the language we all speak.  The song of the forest, of the mountains, of the Earth.  Of yourself.

Listen.  Let the music take you deeper.

Dissolve.

Attunement

Published May 28, 2013 by ireneglasse

It is in the very air you breathe here, thickening the prana as it fills your lungs, coating every inch of flesh, seeping down into your pores, your blood, your bones. It is everywhere you look, shining out from leaves that give new meaning to the word ‘green,’ slipping through the riotous tangle of vines to earth long grown dark and porous with moisture. It emanates from the treetops far above, from the roots spreading out beneath you, from the abundance of life filling all spaces above, below and between.

It is gentle. I floated on the surface of the ocean, the swell of each passing wave lifting me toward the sky, then lowering me toward the sand, the Great Mother rocking her child with the tenderest touch. I slept to the sound of rain on leaves, mingling with the song of the night orchestra. I reveled in the long, low rolls of thunder in the distance. I watched the mist rising from the mountains in the morning.

It is fierce. I stood amazed, breathless, as it crashed down as a waterfall from over two hundred feet above, carving its relentless path into the stone. The roar filled my ears till all other voices had to shout to be heard. I strained to reach the point where cascade transformed into pool and was stopped dead in my tracks, every muscle fighting against the power of the outward-spiraling current, still yards away from my desired destination. Such power is not meant to be touched by these hands.

It is more. I stood chest-deep in a grotto pool warmed by the deep veins of magma within the earth as the skies opened above me. I felt the heat of the water rising from the darkness beneath me. I felt the cool of the rain as it poured down from above me, running in rivulets over my body to meet itself at the center. I watched the rising steam mingle with the falling rain, with the splashing surface of the spring, until above and below lost their distinction, all boundaries melting, running together.

It is me. In the fruits I so eagerly reach for every morning, in the sweet rush of every bite, it fills me, becomes me. My heart the waterfall, my blood the relentless current, my breath the rocking of the ocean, my spirit the rising warmth from Center. I hear the crashing waves inside me, I watch the world from the green pools of my eyes, I touch with skin soft from moisture, and the song rings through my mind:

River is flowing
Flowing and growing
River is flowing down to the sea
I am River
Flowing to eternity
I am River flowing down to the sea

A parting gift from Sacred Space

Published March 13, 2013 by ireneglasse
Gotta love it when my Muse bludgeons me so hard I have to turn around, drive back home and write it all down…

Bone Fire

Bone-dry the earth and twisted branches
Cracking as the drought advances
Cut off from the well below
Nothing green here can grow

Tinder dry the leaves have fallen
Scattered in this barren garden
Caught up in the searing wind
To carry further our great sin

Light alone can only burn
Endless oceans drown in turn
Rain must fall to heal the burning
We must be the flow returning

We must destroy the dam we made
We have to heal what we betrayed
We must shatter our own chain
We must become the falling rain

Sparks are catching in the sun
And flames along the ground do run
Sending sparks into the sky
Blackened branches fall to die

Wash the streets and clear the air
Pour down upon the poison there
Rinse the ashes from the land
Finding earth beneath the sand

And welling up from caves forgotten
Greening power comes to soften
Reaching up as we pour down
Put out the flames now all around

Feed the roots to feed the leaves
Heal the earth to heal the trees
Tend the well to tend the seed
Become the rain to end the need

Perfect Expression

Published December 13, 2012 by ireneglasse

For Pagans, the darker side of the year is a time for internal work–for choosing a battle, digging in, and working your way through.  The combination of myth cycles, sunlight and weather that keeps us indoors serves as grease for the wheels, if you let it.  This year, I’m working on Perfectionism.  I have an ideal inside my head of what my life is supposed to be like–what I should look like, how I should act, what I should do.  And when I fall short of that ideal, I wrestle with a lot of guilt.  The guilt feeds into my anxiety disorder.  I redouble my efforts, this time stressed and anxious, and ultimately manage to screw myself up.  I end up getting sick, overextended, neurotic…it’s an ugly cycle.  And it goes on almost constantly.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about ways to overcome my Perfectionism.  I’ve been working on self-acceptance, on the idea of ‘enough.’  That I do enough, have enough, am enough.  This evening I’m doing a releasing ritual with my wonderful working partner to further this cause.  I’ll be creating a new mala for use in prayer and yoga practice.

Yoga practice.  So many ideas come together here.  The one that really crystallized for me this past week was the idea of Perfect Expression.  A phrase often uttered by instructors at my studio is ‘Find your perfect expression.’  By that, they mean to listen to your body when you’re working on a pose.  To find out where you, personally, need to physically be, what you need to cultivate.  Not to worry about reaching the peak of that pose–Perfect Execution–but what is exactly right for your body in that moment.

For example, I have tight hamstrings.  I’m extremely strong, but not very flexible.  It seems to run in the family–we have very dense muscles and tissues that keep mobility a little pinned down.  So, for me, the Perfect Expression of Downward Facing Dog means my heels don’t touch the floor.  Yet I still get as much out of that pose as someone whose heels do touch–i.e. a great hamstring stretch/shoulder opener/lower back expansion.  That slight difference in execution becomes meaningless since the beauty and benefit to the body are equal.  Even if, 20 years from now, my heels still don’t touch in Down-dog, it will still be the Perfect Expression of the pose for me.

Perhaps there is a Perfect Expression of the Self as well.  We all have an ideal we strive for, whether given to us by our family, the media, our culture as a whole or some combination of those sources.  That ideal is Perfect Execution–beauty, health, wealth, a stable, loving relationship, enough time to help those in need, clean house, nice cars, etc, etc.  A perfectly executed life.  Yet the same way all our bodies are different, our minds and lives are different, too.  We have tight hamstrings, bad shoulders, trick wrists.  We accumulate little dings and dents along the way and must modify that Perfect Execution to fit the needs and limits of our unique, individual self.

And perhaps that modification is Perfect.  Perfect for us in that moment.  Perfect for our reality.  Perfect for the soul, the personality, the life we lead.  Perfectly expressed for who we are.  That expression doesn’t look like the ‘peak pose’ of the life we imagine–it doesn’t look like the ideal inside our head.  But the resemblance is unmistakable.  Although the images aren’t identical, we still cultivate the root of that ideal.  We reach toward it.  And that Perfect Expression is exactly where we need to be.

So I haven’t saved the world yet.  I haven’t completely balanced house-work-music-health-life.  I haven’t figured out the Mysteries of the Universe.

And it’s Perfect.  The things I think of as flaws, as failings, are just modifications.  I have tight hamstrings.  I have an anxiety disorder.  I modify Downward Facing Dog.  I modify my life.  And the beauty and benefit of those modifications are the same within me as Perfect Execution would be.  I do not feel guilt in my yoga practice.  I don’t beat myself up for not being able to flawlessly move through Standing Twisting Triangle.  Instead, I find that place within me that benefits most from the energy of that pose and I breathe into it.

Perfect Expression.

As in yoga, so in life.  As within, so without.  As above, so below.

A blessed New Moon to you, and to your Perfect Expression.