When learning to surf as a teenager, I remember contemplating the sets of waves. Waves form in clusters - a set of around 7 waves builds up in height until ‘the big one’ comes through. And then the waves go quiet until the next set rolls through.
Standing on the beach contemplating the sets helped me see those quiet periods (the lulls). These were the sweet spot to get out the back (where I’d then be able to have fun catching the waves). I still had to paddle hard; but by waiting I would enjoy my surf much more.
Paddling into the ocean without acknowledging the sets, I’d inevitably find myself in a washing machine of waves breaking mercilessly on my head. I’d swallow sea water. I’d be paddling furiously without progressing. I’d be exhausted and resentful of the ocean - not a good head space as a land-dwelling human at the whims of the oceanic domain.
Knowing how to read the ocean was important to my ability to surf.
I had to stop on the beach.
I had to pay attention.
I had to watch how other people paddled out and pick-up the patterns of their successes or failures.
I had to choose my path.
So. How can we - you and I - choose our paths more effectively in the sea of relationships we encounter daily?
For me, it’s taking time to observe, watch and pay attention. I’m learning to track the ‘sets’ in my human relating by recording and mapping interactions, feelings and experiences. Journalling, gardening and walking give me space to reflect and reconcile.
Knowing the places and spaces for observing and watching are key.
Do you know where they are in your life?
Find your place to stop and observe. Let the perspective help you to pick the best line of approach to your relating so you can get to the place where you most enjoy.
Navigating persistent personal turmoil, despite all the time you’ve sat with it and all the ideas you’ve put into action, can be exhausting.
How do you navigate the isolation, tiredness and melancholy of feeling like you’ve got to do it all yourself, even though you know there are good people in your life who care?
Regardless of constant opportunities for connection in the modern world, and despite those in our community who may want to support us in our time of need - we can still feel alone and lost when we’re experiencing personal trouble.
It can seem others have their own stuff to deal with and don’t have the space for us. Not the space that’s required to really dig into the sub-soil of a persistent trouble scratching at the core of who we are.
This human experience of isolation and despair is likely more common than we realise - a whole bunch of us may be moving around in our personal bubbles of turmoil, unaware of just how immense and similar another’s experience might also be.
Thus, the CIRCLE OF CLOSE ONES is introduced.
How to do the Circle of Close Ones
This is a tool to help an individual call-in specific support when experiencing personal crisis. It looks and feels like this:
(1) Call together a trusted group - The challenged one calls together 4 to 8 people they trust to confide in. Those for whom they feel a sense of confidence and safety. These are people that can hear the ’stuff’ without having to fix the other; nor are they easily triggered into their own turmoils. These are close ones.
The close ones are invited into a held and facilitated space. A private space, where the group will collectively deep dive together for 2 to 4 hours.
(2) Hear the one carrying the challenge - The circle’s purpose is to hear the troubled person in the deep honesty and vulnerability of their life challenge. This sharing isn’t endless - it happens in a time-range that feels appropriate to the group. Up to 20 minutes of explanation might be a good start. Having a time limit helps avoids the circle being a ‘dump and fix’; rather allowing a contribution of collective wisdom from the whole group from which the challenged one draws inspiration and guidance.
(3) Use circle rounds to clarify & contribute - The group use circle rounds to discuss and explore what they hear in the challenge, and what might be possible to support them toward a more balanced and settled place.
For the FIRST set of circle rounds, each support person describes the feelings and needs they hear expressed by the challenged one; reflecting what might be important to that person, and what feelings are presenting as symptoms of those needs not being met. The challenged one might also like to give this a go. The group collectively reflect what they feel/sense/hear from the one carrying the challenge. They might refer to their own life experience to describe what they’re hearing, and there might be several rounds of the circle exploring the feelings and needs.
For the SECOND set of circle rounds, each person describes what they feel could be valuable strategies for the challenged one to meet their needs and cultivate what’s important to them. This is the creative part - and a space for lateral thinking. Again, this might continue for several rounds as more ideas surface and emerge. The point here is not to be a ‘dump and fix’, but a vast harvest of options.
The challenged one is responsible for taking action on what feels right for them - the close ones cannot save them, and self responsibility is essential.
Rounds can happen by moving person-by-person around the circle - passing a talking stick to help guide the flow of contribution, and to support each person be fully heard in their sharing.
Alternatively, rounds can also happen in a pop-corn style - placing the talking stick in the middle of the circle where each person picks-up the stick when they feel to share something. In this case, keep it to only one contribution from each person until everyone has contributed and shared for that round. Choose the style that feels best for the group.
The essence of the Circle of Close Ones
The Circle of Close Ones happens in the spirit of sharing circle; guided by the principles of:
As the rounds progress, only one person speaks at a time, without cross-talk. This includes the challenged one. The talking stick is used to show who has the space to share - only the person holding the talking stick has 'permission' to contribute at that time. This requires a self-moderation for the time taken to share, and an awareness of fairness in holding the talking stick.
Recognition to the First Nations people of North America, and globally, who have been the longest carriers of the talking stick and sharing circle practice.
Sharings can be scribed to capture the essence of the contribution of close ones. Before the circle begins, it’s important to gain consent from all present to the scribing of the circle sharings, and to clarify who will scribe.
Having a facilitator to guide the Circle of Close Ones is not necessary, though helpful. A skilled facilitator will open and close the space appropriately - helping everyone arrive fully in the circle with a presencing practice, and leave with closure and completeness.
A facilitator will track the energy of the group - especially of the challenged one - supporting the flow of contributions and stepping-in only if a sharing seems off-track, inappropriate and/or not honouring the intention to support the challenged one.
The great beauty of the Circle of Close Ones is that all are able to benefit from the wisdoms shared. It’s possible the close ones may have their own ‘stuff’ emerge while in the circle. However it’s important to reiterate the focus is on the challenged one for whom the circle was called; supporting those in their process with emergency empathy, and then bringing it back to the challenged one.
The Circle of Close Ones allows a gathering of collective wisdom and insight from trusted kin. The spirit of this circle is to witness and see each other in our vulnerability; contributing in a meaningful and considered way.
Practical aspects to the Circle of Close Ones
Practical aspects to consider include the following.
If you're interested to experience the Circle of Close Ones for yourself, either talk to a skilled facilitator or seek the support of a friend to help you coordinate the time. The outcome will hopefully be more clarity on options, and a greater sense of support.
Please note! The Circle of Close Ones is not a surrogate for professional psychological help. Seek the support of a professional counsellor or psychologist where needed.
The Circle of Close Ones utilises the social technology of sharing circle, an age-old global practice by which humans have met and connected on deep and meaningful levels. Sharing circle is a place of respect, vulnerability and collective wisdom.
May it be used to support modern humans to connect with transparency, trust and contribution to move forward in ways that are witnessed, supported and fulfilling.
For online and/or in-person facilitation of the Circle of Close Ones, please connect with me to explore and engage. It is a pleasure to be in service in caring for each other with deep and open hearts
Do you know you have a thing called agency? Do you know what it is? Do you use it?
Agency is our ability to sense, feel, think, consider, interact, create, play, respond.
Agency is the ability of any part within a self-organising system to freely function and operate according to it’s given role and inherent limits.
Life is built on self-organising systems in which the individual parts of the whole exercise their agency.
YOUR BODY KNOWS
Our human body is a great example of a self-organising ‘whole’ system.
Each of our body parts knows how to do it’s job. The toes have their function. The liver it’s. Our elbow, ear, colon and lungs all have their unique and specific jobs to perform to be part of a healthy human body.
And none of those parts are told how to ‘do’ it’s job from any other part. Instead, through innate knowing, the human body grows and develops it’s functionality according to the data held in our DNA. Just as the tree blooms from a seed.
However, the degree to how well a component (aka body part) can function within the whole is another matter. This depends on the feedback loops (information) and nourishment informing and fuelling each part according to it’s unique needs.
When beautiful music plays, the ears send the signal to the brain who transmits it to the rest of the body, from which dancing results. The stomach communicates hunger to the brain, which then scans with the eyes, and reaches for the apple with the hand.
And so it goes within systems in life: micro and macro, small and big. It’s just how life is programmed – to self-organise when the stimulus is provided.
Life is built upon the concept of free agents – at all levels, scales and forms. Life invites the individual parts of it’s melange of beautifully complex systems to express their agency. In nurtured, healthy and functional systems, the full expression of agency is more likely to occur.
THE CONUNDRUM OF HUMAN AGENCY
This is where it might get a little confusing. Humans seem to have a way of subverting the free agency of our species individuals; to control (and at times, limit) the information, stimulus and nutrition required for the person to be fully human.
Many humans find themselves in situations where they don’t really know who they are, what resources they have to work with, and what they want/need to do with their lives. Many people live without passion, purpose and direction. Many seem lost, complacent and apathetic. Culture has been watered-down and homogenised. Material consumption seems to have become a proxy for connection.
This seems to parallel in education systems, medical systems and political systems who tend to operate on linear, centralised and compartmentalised processes; providing gapping holes in meeting the needs of a functioning human. Some might even say these systems can over-ride the free agency of people.
In chronic doses, long-term slow-release self-destruction is administered by many upon themselves (think substance use, escapism and, at the extreme, suicide) where agency is not experienced or supported.
ACTIVATE YOUR AGENCY!
This conundrum can be confronting. It may even bring a sense of despair. And this response of confrontation and despair probably occur for people more than we realise.
Importantly though, there are plenty of counter-measures to assert one’s agency despite how distant it may seem.
Here is a humble yet powerful list of suggestions to cultivate your agency in the world.
Point One: Know yourself through observation.
Key to this is observing without reaction. Pay attention to what’s happening in your body, mind and emotions in different situations, like when you eat different types of food, watch a violent movie, walk in a forest for hours, talk to a certain type of person.
Be aware of how your body interacts with and responds to the world around it. Cultivate a sense of how different settings/food/people influence your state of well-being. Meditation is a powerful practice for cultivating observation; and it be can as simple as stop-and-feel.
Point Two: Honesty is vital.
With yourself, first and foremost. Honesty with self allows you acknowledge what your experiencing and what you’re in need of, and then to do something about it. Honesty with others helps them understand what you’re experiencing and why. This can support self-organisation quite naturally.
Point Three: Boundaries.
Know what your boundaries are and be willing to uphold them. This requires you to know yourself (point 1) and be honest about it (point 2), Boundaries require you to be aware of what you can live with, and what you can’t.
When you know your boundaries, you are then able to know when you consent to being exposed to actions/behaviours/words etc, and when you don’t. If you choose to expose yourself to something that doesn’t feel good, you may be giving your consent unwittingly.
This equally goes the other way in respecting other people's boundaries. When someone communicates their boundaries, it’s about them ensuring their needs can be met; and not necessarily anything personal to you.
Point Four. Needs.
Essentially, all humans are ever trying to do is meet our universal human needs. We all have them - every single human on the planet. They include things like air, food, water; as well as things like acceptance, respect, authenticity, contribution, and choice.
When needs aren’t being met, humans will consciously or unconsciously seek to have them be met. Having an awareness of universal human needs (find them here), you will be able to have more understanding on the motivation of your behaviour, and that of others. And then ultimately be more prepared to find solutions and strategies for meeting those needs.
Point Five. Nothing is personal.
Otherwise said as: “what other people think of me is none of my business”. In essence, this is autonomy.
We humans construct our understanding based on our individual lens on reality. There are many factors influencing ones perception e.g. past experiences and trauma, assumption, limited scope of understanding, and needs wanting to be met. Quite often we might not realise what’s influencing our perception of life, which is when we need to go back to point 1 – observation.
In the spirit of ‘agency’, we must work within the domain of what we can control, and when it comes to humans, that domain only extends to self, self and ... self!
Point Six. Love and trust.
Yes, love and trust might sound cliché but they’re also incredibly potent. When you can feel and express love and trust for yourself and others – especially unconditional love and trust – something happens that softens, opens, and transforms the quality of an experience.
Love and trust are incredibly disarming to tension and disharmony – they aren’t silver bullets, but deeply supportive and facilitating of deep integrity.
To help you in this practice, you may like to set a chime on your phone for every half hour or hour (here's the one I use), at which you can acknowledge your presence in that moment in unconditional love and unconditional trust. FEEL this in your body, know it to be true, and watch how it shifts your interactions with yourself, and with life. (Big credit to Michael Roads for this practice; from personal experience, I know this simple exercise to be a powerful one).
Simply knowing there is such a thing as agency, and that it’s available to you as a birth rite can be an important starting place to cultivating your agency.
Know that your ability to sense, feel, think, consider, interact, create, play, and respond is important, available, and ultimately your responsibility.
With that knowing, let’s weave a world of free agents within the self-organising system of life. One in which each part (that’s us!) are free to operate with awareness, honesty, boundaries, met needs, and autonomy; all supported by unconditional love and trust.
The choice is yours. Choose it.
Have you ever thought of time as series of patterns? Seeing the seconds, minutes, hours not as a looming threat, but instead as a drumbeat of cycles that present us a structure to design and create with?
Time patterns are macro and micro; broad-scale and small-scale. Long and short. Bright and dark. Hot and cold.
Year after year, seasonal patterns happen. Daily patterns happen. Solar patterns roll around each year. Lunar patterns happen each month.
They are all markers in our life experience (whether we see them or not).
And they are especially useful – resources to help orient ourselves, our projects, our check-ins and our energy output.
The nature of a cycle is that it has a beginning, middle section/s, and an end.
The sun through the year has it’s beginning at the Winter Solstice. The days wax in length through the mid-point of equal day and equal night at the Spring Equinox. Daylight shines it’s longest and brightest at the Summer Solstice, and then slowly starts to decline. The Autumn Equinox again marks equal day and equal night as the days shorten towards their dullest shine at the Winter Solstice.
Each day begins with a sunrise, peaks at midday, declines with sunset, and lays in full darkness at midnight.
The moon is dark and not visible at the new moon. Half seen at the first-quarter and third-quarter moons. And shining full and bright at the full moon.
Here’s the thing. Regardless of where we’re at in any of these, each distinctive point of the cycle provides an opportunity for us to utilise for reflection, intention-setting and awareness of what’s happening in our lives.
The peak point of the cycle (e.g. Summer Solstice and full moon) are times of outwardness, high activity, the obvious and illuminated. The low point of each cycle (e.g. Winter Solstice and new moon) are cold, dark, inward, subtle, slow.
Neither point in the cycle is better than another – each inviting us into a different part of ourselves.
For extra definition and detail, meaning can be assigned to the different cycles to reflect different aspects of ourselves.
The Sun might represent how your light is shining in the world: with the Winter Solstice a time of intention-setting, and the Summer Solstice a time of illumination and reflection on how you’re shining.
The Moon might represent your feelings and emotions: setting intentions for these with the new moon, and reflecting and expressing these at the full moon.
The beauty of time as patterns and cycles is the predictability. Predictable allows for self-organisation, and provides structure and framework to orient ourselves and know what to expect.
If we know how to read the patterns of the earth’s movements around the sun (the solar cycle), then we effectively have a drumbeat of seasons structuring how we operate and a lattice work to create around.
Here are some questions you might like to consider regarding patterns and cycles in your life:
Patterns and cycles are a resource for us humans to utilise to refine our essence, and thrive in our individual and collective missions in the world.
Let yourself dance to their beat and, piece by piece, create an authentic, real and deeply fulfilling reality.
PART 1 :
THE SUN IS DYING
It’s happening. The sun is dying. It happens the same time every year. It’s predictable.
The physics of the diagonal axis of our spinning globe, rotating the firey ball of gas in center of our solar system, allows for summer and winter to happen. The ‘death’ of the sun happens mid-winter, sustaining it’s lowest arch in the sky for three days. For us in the Southern Hemisphere, our greatest tilt away from the sun is in May, June, July, August.
My white-skinned cold-clime ancestors of the Northern Hemisphere had story about the death of the sun. As far as I know, there are many reported cases of different human groups having big story around this (watch the first Zeitgeist movie for more insights). For those of the cold regions, this death was something to pay respects to for various compelling reasons (all of which are just as instructive and relevant to us in the modern times).
(And, interesting side note: those on equatorial latitudes were/are primarily governed by the waxing and waning of rain cycles rather than length of day)
For those of us born after the dawning of the age of electricity, this can all seem a bit “whatever”. Modern humans in the digital techno sphere dominated by the Gregorian calendar and petroleum don’t have much need to pay heed to the sun’s sky position. Because hey, we’re running on the long-ago captured sunlight from ancient algae transformed into the liquid black gold that touches just about every part of the modern era. Oil and coal.
But get this. Before oil and coal was a ‘thing’, humans existed only by the light of the sun that could be captured via plant and animal life, that could somehow be preserved for as long as possible (which generally lasted for a solar year – meaning for around 12 months). So in those times, when sunlight was respected for the fueling role it had on Earth (which it still very much has), humans paid attention… and revered… the movements of Sol.
PART 2 :
RELEVANT TAKEAWAYS FROM THE DEATH OF THE SUN
This all teaches us some important stuff about being human. Here are just a few relevant takeaways from the death of the sun.
(a) It teaches us about DEATH
The sun stops shining and plants don’t grow as much. Simple as that. For those in really cold climates, plants stop growing all together i.e. they die. Life goes fallow, and it all gets to have a rest. Life has a chance to hibernate and appreciate times of rest. Life recharges and restore in the darkness of winter, connecting to the inner realms. Humans, plants, animals: all of it.
We humans are reminded of the ‘winter’ of the human experience. When our bodies age and eventually die. It happens to all of us. And it’s just as predictable as the sun dying each year, or the moon dying each month.
(b) It teaches us about LIFE
All this talk of death teaches us about life. It teaches us that rebirth happens. The sun rises again in the sky in the Spring. The moon grows luminous again after it’s darkness. The matter of our human bodies cycles back into the flux of the Earth to be transformed into another form with lifeforce.
It teaches us to ‘make hay while the sun shines’ in the summer. It’s reminds us of the fullness of life, and that our bright shining life-force is limited and therefore, precious. Its teaches us to value the freshness of the new. It teaches us to use the time we have as a resource.
(c) It teaches us about CYCLES
This is yet another means to describe the drum beat of the 12 monthly sun cycle: a light-based time marker through which Earth pulses. The moon holds a similar beat but on a mo(o)nthly rhythm. These cycling celestial bodies allow us opportunity to orient ourselves within the midst of these ‘dynamic constants’ as our lives happen – with all the change and unpredictability.
It’s said it’s beneficial to plant seeds with the dark/new moon, working with the idea that water is literally drawn down in the soil profile where the seed roots must anchor. The full moon draws water up, bringing extra life-force into leaf and fruiting matter.
Some apply the pattern to the human experience as well. We can plant seeds of intention into our lives with the new moon cycle and new sun cycle, dropping our intentions into the drumbeat of the celestial rhythms to see our visions grow each month and each year.
PART 3 :
DANCING THE CYCLES IN 12 STEPS
Choreographing our life experience to synch with the beat of the waxing and waning of the sun & moon offers a biorhythmic intelligence for dancing our life intentions in small and digestible chunks.
The southern Winter Solstice occurs around the 21 June 2018 each year. At this time of declining sunlight we can feel the opportunity to plant yearly seeds (think of new year resolutions). We can then watch and tend these intentions as they sprout with the Spring Equinox (September), bloom with the summer solstice (December), decline with the autumn equinox (March), and eventually fall away to allow the next cycle to emerge.
This is a similar pattern we can dance with the lunar cycle I.e. plant seeds of intent with the monthly new moon, see them bloom at the full moon, and dwindle with the waxing quarter.
Indeed, the sun and moon cycles can be used together. ‘Plant’ yearly intentions at the Winter Solstice. Break-down that 12 months of the coming solar cycle into it’s quarters and see these as milestone markers. Then break-down each quarter into the 3 moon cycles they contain. Use these lunar cycles as additional milestones to check-in on the progress of your intentions.
Here’s how that can look in 12 steps:
(1) JUNE (Winter Solstice): Set intentions for the 12 month period following. See these intentions within the scope of your broader life goals, supporting you to practically step toward the greater visions you hold for yourself and the world. Also in June, set yourself the next step toward your intention for the month to come – what will you do through the rest of June to help you grow your intention seed into a thriving plant?
(2&3) JULY & AUGUST: At new moon of each month, set intention for the next step toward your yearly intentions. What will you do through each month to help you grow your intention seed grow roots and establish? See this monthly intention illuminated at each full moon, and die-away with the waning moon.
(3) SEPTEMBER (Spring Equinox): How have your yearly intentions been growing for the first 3 months? See them like a sprouting plant reaching up out of the soil full of conviction. Are they growing as you had hoped? Do you want/need to tweak and refine your actions to integrate current information and context? Reflect and keep your intention growing.
(4&5) OCTOBER & NOVEMBER: At new moon of each month, set intention for the next step toward your yearly intentions. What will you do through each month to help you grow your intention seed into a thriving plant at the Summer Solstice? See this monthly intention illuminated at the full moon, and die-away with the waning moon.
(6) DECEMBER (Summer Solstice): See your intentions blooming amongst the light-flooded longer days of the summertime. There is a lot of energy and heat at this time. Do your year-long intentions need to take a breath in amongst all the outward energy? Admire the ‘flowering’ of your intentions after 6 months of tending to them. Stop to smell your ‘roses’ and appreciate their full-bodied life force.
(7&8) JANUARY & FEBRUARY: At new moon time of each month, set your intention for the next step of your yearly intentions. Your intentions will still be basking in there blooming state – how are you utilising this energy while there is still light around? See this monthly intention be illuminated at the full moon, and die-away with the waning moon.
(9) MARCH (Autumnal Equinox): Since the full light of summer shone on your blooming intentions, what have you learnt and harvested? This quarter equinox point of equal day and equal night allows you to balance as you reap and review from the past 9 months of journeying intentionally. Acknowledge the wisdom gathered, continue on with your blossomed intentions, and tune-in to how you can bring completion to this cycle.
(10&11) APRIL & MAY: At new moon of each month, set intention for the completion steps of your yearly intentions. Continue your intentions in these final stages. These are the months for a completion ceremony and resting. This is also a time to contemplate how you will begin the next solar cycle of intentions. See these monthly intentions illuminated at the full moon, and die-away with the waning moon.
(12) And then start again. Utilise any progress, growth and learnings from the past solar cycle to help you move onto the next stage on your life journey.
Life is a precious and limited experience for all life forms. We’re guaranteed that one day our bodies will no longer live in the form we currently know them.
We humans have a potent opportunity to intentionally align our matter with our spirit for an average 8 to 9 decades.
May these insights help you live your deepest intentions and manifest your wildest dreams: step by step, piece by piece through each cycle we’re granted. That way, no matter when our spirit leaves our bodies, we will know we’ve lived fully in each moment we’re afforded.
Blessings to you for each & every cycle!
• AUDIO •
• TEXT •
Showing-up and being seen in Life is:
When we take the opportunity to show-up, to show the truth of who we are in any one moment, regardless of other people’s (or our own) projections and stories about what’s said: we honour Life.
When we show-up in the fullness of who we are, allowing our light to shine simply because that’s what’s happening in Life at that moment: we honour Life.
When we show-up in Life and allow ourselves to be seen… truly seen… even when the going’s tough, when we are at a lull, when we don’t know how things will change: we honour Life.
When we show-up in Life and allow ourselves to be seen for all our sovereign right to be exactly who we are because that’s how the stars were aligned at our birth or who our parents were or what the political context was or what town we grew up in: we honour Life.
When we allow ourselves to be seen, even when it goes against our childhood-conditioned, neurologically-wired, muscle-memory self because we know there’s a deeper truth that wants to express itself as a birth-rite of being a Being: we honour Life.
When we allow ourselves to be seen when we don’t agree with the politics or the economics or the ethics of the majority, but our allegiance and utter knowing of the sacred depths of Life push us to speak-up and be heard: we honour Life.
When we show-up with our heart in our mouths, pulsing fear and anticipation and tears and relief that the truth’s being spoken, without knowing how the other, how the self, will next respond, but knowing we can’t hold the pseudo reality any longer: we honour Life.
When we do these things, we’re doing the only thing we can do. We're using the resources of the present moment, not wasting the potent energy of truth but offering it up so Life can work it’s magic of synchronicity with all those who hear. We allow deep trust to alchemise what IS, and stir the pot of co-creative potential.
When we show-up in Life, we can’t know the impact it may have on others, the unknown ripples through the human experience that might plant seeds, water potential, cull potential, open a door, close a door. We can’t really know.
All we can, and need, to do is SHOW UP & BE SEEN.
•AUDIO• Click to play >>
The thing about feedback is that it happens whether we like it or not. Either way, consciously acknowledged or otherwise, feedback is swooping around us, within us, between us and beyond us.
The thing about feedback is that all life is designed around it and dependent upon it. Our human bodies, the ecosystems we belong to, the development of a new born child adapting to the world. Feedback is the driving force of the great organic machine called Life, and we’re all loops in it’s grand circuits.
The thing about feedback is that we can pay attention to it, receive it, feel it, allow it, contribute to it, and find ourselves dynamically propelling through authentic interactions – or not. We have the choice to utilise feedback as our co-creative wand, acknowledging life for what it truly is – for what we truly are - and live present and real with ourselves and the world around us.
Hello friends ~ greetings from the other side of the new year portal with 2017 well on it’s roll.
Here I share my contemplations on the 'seasons greetings' flung about with wild abandon in December and January each year, and plant seeds of potential for other forms of goal and intention setting, celebration and ritual.
This may seem a little counter-cultural, but I just gotta tell you: when the December festive train rolls into town (particularly here in Australia), it increasingly strikes me as odd to see folks dress up in arctic clothing as Santa Claus, singing songs about silent nights and sleigh bells ringing, while having the oven cranking out a roast in the middle of a hot summer's day – all in the name of Christmas. And then there are the parties for the coming of the new Gregorian year – great spectacles and gatherings of heightened celebration, peaking at the countdown of “10...9...8...7...”, expectant eyes watching the tick-tock of a clock in an OCD-like need to see it happen.
For the clock-in of this current year, I threw tradition to the wind and slept through the much-celebrated collective countdown. Instead, I rose in the pre-dawn hours, amidst birdsong and gentle dawn light, migrating to my favourite local coastal headland to watch the sun rise again over the eastern horizon. This felt far more appropriate and honouring of the newness to be celebrated: a new day, a new year, a new moment of NOW.
I wonder how many others feel the same confusion about the much publicised Christmas & New Year celebrations. Somehow, the concept of the Gregorian calendar being a date-marker for our yearly intentions doesn’t sit comfortably for me in terms of how intentions intersect with the reality of our life. As one with an awareness of the various possibilities for celebration, goal/intention setting and gathering throughout the year long, the concept of saving up all the celebrating, connection, and resolution-setting to this once-a-year period of intensity seems a little...bottled-up.
You see, every month we Earth-dwellers are graced with the ebbs and flows of our planetary companion, the Moon; the new and full moons offering potent energy to set intention and reflect upon our lives both individually and collectively. We also have seasonal waxing and waning – the Winter and Summer Solstice in June and December, along with the Vernal and Autumnal Equinox in April and September. These two planetary ‘drumbeats’ invite us into awareness and interaction on a monthly and quarterly basis in a way that recognises and utilises the seasonal context we’re inherently inclunced by.
Call me a sucker for small and slow solutions, I find the Lunar and Solar cycle as powerful milestones to work with in considering and manifesting the realities for which we wish. And they can integrate and utilise the institution of Christmas gatherings and New Years resolutions; because, realistically, families may only truly be able to gather together in celebration once a year, and the solstice is a beautiful time to do so. When we do gather, let’s do so in a way that utilises and truly supports each other to live full, grounded and abundant lives.
To help you culture-jam your reality to have more seasonal and real-time relevance, here are some possibilities to hybridise family gathering and yearly intention-setting:
All power to you as you develop yourself and your life in alignment with life's potent energies. Please do comment and share your experiences in journeying with the lunar and solar cycles - the more we share, the more we learn and evolve with each other.
And blessings of the season to you, wherever this may find you. For those in the southern lands (like me), the bright & warm days offer external interconnective moments, out in the world. For those in the northern lands, hibernation through through the chills and darkness allow a conjuring of new energy to emerge in the coming months.
Wherever we are, may we cycle genuinely, potently & co-creatively as the drum beats carry us on!
Between it's lines is a phoenix rising from the ashes of a burnt-out former self, spreading it's wings in relief of new ability to soar. Between it's lines is a soul calling us to pay attention to what catches our attention ~ an awareness offered to us to co-create the reality for which we wish.
This particularly resonated with me on a personal level. Do you know that feeling of the monkey-mind running around on your shoulders, uncontrolled and despairing? I have felt it many times in my younger years. I call it my inner victim, or my ego. It's that sense of spinning your emotional tyres deeper into a mud patch when all you want to do is move forward. "This is never going to change." "We've got no hope in this world". "No one really cares".
I have experienced many various bouts of the monkey-mind running rampant; and at some point the realisation arrived that 'I' am more like the elephant who, after being chained for years and not being able to roam, will stay in it's chained position once the chain has been removed. I finally realised, somehow, that I can be kin with my monkey-mind, choosing to utilise it's feistiness as a flag toward something wanting to be healed and released; something it wanted me to pay attention to. Finally, this realisation allowed a shift and a movement; rather than a disempowered experience in which I would run and hide when the familiar sluggish wave swept through my emotional landscape.
The monkey-mind allows clarity in identifying what is 'wrong'. I give myself permission to vomit out the toxicity onto a page - all those feelings, thoughts, emotions that feel 'wrong' to be experiencing and 'wrong' to be happening. Once the purging extracts these concepts outside of me, an objectivity tends to appear. Kind of how physical vomiting removes a toxic substance from the stomach, finally bringing relief.
With the page of toxicity looking back at me, I start to feel a shame slide away. "Phew.... it's finally out in the open".
And with that comes a slow but steady stream of creativity; the Warrior come to ask what deeper resource this adversity is calling on me to bring forth. From here it's a process of stream-of-consciousness mind-mapping - a revealing of the wisdom of the subconscious; that which is tapped into a bigger and fuller perspective bringing forward sense to the current context. What comes are potential 'next actions' for movement and progression to each of the 'toxic' pieces of feedback flagged to my attention by the monkey-mind. This process allows the toxic feedback to be questioned - what are you telling me I want/need (as opposed to something I don't want/need)? This is the mud-map to the journey of reaching toward your vision for what you wish to see in the world. For each toxic statement, it's a process of writing down what those words reveal I do want and need to be balanced and happy.
Some of the next actions might be well out of my domain of influence. And for those: I accept, acknowledge and offer a prayer. Other actions push my boundaries and almost hurt; BUT feel necessary and potent. So with these I start with one step forward - one next action to cling onto - and go. Much like the 1-year-old taking it's first steps with her encouraging parents knowing she can walk, the soul croons the ego along on the journey of loving, healing, growing, evolving. More 'next actions' come as they are possible, seeking out a hand-holding support to bring accountability and encouragement from a trusted someone/something if this will be of service.
With each 'thing' moving forward, with each of those steps, comes a sense of spaciousness, relief, and empowerment; a sense of the wildness of fully living, of deeper love and awareness; a sense of the perfectness of all that is. All these, some might argue, are the human experience.
And like any human experience, it's a process of up-down-and-around - the spiral pattern of progress. Movement forward, hitting a plateau, reviewing the situation again with slightly different perspectives under the belt of experience, a fresh mind-mapping of potential options, and launching into the round of next actions to reach out and celebrate life's beauty.
So, here are the steps:
Thankfully, there are also a raft of other practices to help move the stagnating gloom and move into the visioning and productive space. Here are just a few other options to explore in holding hands with your monkey-mind:
So, with hope's light guiding the soul though the dark tunnel of cloudy melancholy, small steps unfurl and evolve us out into the world as the blossoming being we were planted in this world to be. Both the dark and the light are present at all times - that monkey running around on our shoulders - and whether we choose to just see the monkey, or to also listen to what the monkey asks us to process and progress, is our choice. As a wise person once said, "This world is our to create, and if we don't do it, someone else will". Thankfully, the choice is always ours.
Thank you for opening yourself and coming to sit in this sharing circle. If you feel to, you are welcome to express your experiences in the comments of how you call on your deeper resources and celebrate life's beauty when the temptation of numbness and escape calls.
As an offering from one soul-experiencing-human-form to another...
These posts offer you insights & practical tools to support you to thrive for a better world!
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