Nature and healing
What a contrast of weather this weekend, from dull and foggy on Saturday to blissful summer temperatures on Sunday. We tried to make the most of it yesterday, such a rare treat to find yourself celebrating Mabon, and the Autumnal Equinox on such an incredibly beautiful day.
We managed a swim at high tide down at Petit Bot, bliss, only us, which again is a true blessing to living on this Island and awakening early. The tides are high at the moment, which makes for a very quick entry, we swam at high tide on Saturday too, and probably because the air temperature was cooler than day, the sea felt warmer. Needless to say it makes for a refreshing beginning to the day, and opportunity to clear our the nasal passages - who needs a neti pot when you have the whole ocean at your feet...or nose - before a lovely warm shower to invigorate the skin.
I cycled to pregnancy Yoga through the quiet lanes, it is lovely to be out and about on Sunday mornings when the roads are so much quieter than usual. There were 3 new people at the class, which served as a good reminder to me of how nerve wracking it really can be beginning Yoga. One of the ladies was particularly nervous and while the teacher did her best to out the lady at ease, reminding us all that Yoga is non-competitive in approach, you start where you are at and work with your breath to encourage ease to your body and mind, it did make me realise how easy it is to forget - when you have a regular Yoga practice - that we do live in this world of perceived good/bad, wrong/right etc etc.
Of course one of the many joys of Yoga is that it helps us to let go of these judgements a little, not least in terms of judging oneself, but also in terms of deciding if something is indeed good or bad, because often this changes over time. It is the same with our practice, in so much as when we begin perhaps there are poses that we find more challenging, or that we feel we really can't do (whatever that really means) and yet over time that does indeed change so that we find it becomes our favourite pose and that we can practice it with some ease. Yoga reminds us that everything is impermanent and subject to change and best to let go of this fixed mind and be open to all possibilities.
As for beginning Yoga, however, the judgement, especially to self, is so deeply grained that many may contact and express an interest in attending Yoga, but never mange to make it through the door. They have limited themselves before they have even begun. And I am not saying that Yoga is a boon for everyone, we all have a way of finding our peace and journey to enlightenment, but it does sadden me a little that we don't even give ourselves a chance, that life has already make us decide that there is no changing to be done, or indeed undone. And some do bravely make it through the door, but spend the whole session comparing themselves to others that they never return again.
We followed Yoga with another trip down to Petit Bot to have a quick catch up with the family, the sun beginning to break through, low tide now, such a lovely beach when it is so quiet as it was yesterday! And from there on to Lihou Island for the annual duck racing fundraiser. So much fun, especially for the children and of course a great way of bringing everyone together. I do love Lihou and the fact you feel like you are getting away form it a little. It was super hot and we walked around the Island and sat and watched the sea, a low pressure must be on its way as the waves are building. The colours were amazing, such a richness to the light at this time of year.
Back on Guernsey and we walked around St Germain Nature Reserve trying to find some blackberries. What a gem this place is. The whole time we were there we only saw one other woman. It is just so peaceful and so vibrant in energy. It reminded me of an article I had read in the "Style" section of the Sunday Times earlier that day. In it there was is an article entitled, "My choice" about a lady who chooses a natural approach to treating cancer. It reads,
"When Bond was researching her book, she found several common traits among people who had managed to beat cancer on their terms - the ability to overcome the fear of death and dying being one of them. "There are practical steps, like mindfulness and not getting caught up in catastrophic thoughts about the future", She says, "And being out in nature, where you feel part of the bigger picture". One doctor told her that faith in what they were doing "creates a sense of relaxation, and that's when healing occurs. If you're afraid, pumped full of adrenalin and cortisol, these conditions aren't conducive to healing".
Now I have heard this many times before, I know it to be true from my own healing, not from cancer necessarily, but healing nonetheless. In fact only that morning the pregnancy teacher was talking about the need to remain calm while giving birth to prevent the fear taking control and causing all sorts of problems with the shift in hormone levels. This is true. And this is the joy of mindfulness, of breathing mindfully, of Reiki, of Yoga, of all these healing modalities that, essentially, encourage one to relax, thereby helping to create the environment for healing to take place.
But the other point that struck me about the article, that again I know to be true from my own experiences and that I try to impart on others, especially those experiencing depression, anxiety or a general shut down to life and its possibilities, is to get out into nature, because that truly does help to get our feet back on the ground and remind us of the bigger picture and our part within that. And what better place than St Germain Nature reserve. I tell you, there is something extra especially powerful about the energy up there, all that new life perhaps and the views of the fields and the trees and the sea in the distance. So if you do find yourself feeling under the weather, and even if you don't, then take yourself up there and enjoy some quite moments.
But talking of healing, I was reading Pema Chodron's wonderful book, "Living Beautifully" in between activities yesterday and there was a bit that struck me as it seemed to fit in nicely with my thought processes at the moment about how people can often get stuck in their spiritual practice, or their healing too. You see it regularly, people moving from one modality to the other, from one perceived wonderful healer to another, hoping that by seeing said wonderful healer, their whole life will be changed, their problems resolved and all done for them by someone else. Nope, not going to happen. All that does happen is you spend an awful lot of money searching for the miracle cure, that is actually within yourself, if only you could stop giving your power away to others. Only it is more than that too, and Pema knocks it on the head when she writes:
"Wanting to escape pain is the reason that many people start on a spiritual path. It can be a good motivator, because it drives us to look for answers. The problem is, most of us spend our entire life going from one promise to another, never staying with the pain long enough to learn anything from it".
I was reminded of this again last night at the lovely NCT RSB Yoga session with Anita where we held practice contractions, basically sitting against a wall without a chair so that your thigh muscles burn and scream at you to move away. The idea is that you breathe into the discomfort, as you would do during a contraction, and accept the pain (and fear that sometimes goes with it) rather than running away from it, as this will often make it worse. In fact this is another one of the joys of Yoga really, that you stay with what is arising, be that your thighs screaming at you, or your hips in pigeon pose and you breathe and over time you notice how the sensation changes, pain changes, it transforms into something else. And then it is over, it happened, time to move on, impermanence, just like nature, everything changes, more warm weather today, next week it will no doubt be cold again, today leaves on trees, next week they could all have been shed.
I shall leave you with Pema's wonderful words:
"May we all learn that pain is not the end of the journey, and neither is delight. We can hold them both - indeed hold it all - at the same time, remembering that everything in these quixotic, unpredictable, unsettled and unsettling, exhilarating and heart-stirring times is a doorway to awakening in sacred world".
With much love x