Saturday, February 21, 2009

Count to 10...and don't forget to breathe...

When I was a child I can remember very vividly moments where my mother's face would become redder than a tomato, and she would stop herself from speaking, only to either count to ten out loud, or do so in her mind before speaking in a very low, very calm voice. This got her point across much more than yelling ever could have as that deep, motherly, bordering-on-sensuality-and-explosion tone captured my attention and made me listen right quick to what she had to say. It was when she reached that level of calm, and her voice was steady that she had become empowered in a way I can only begin to understand now as I walk this path.

I now realize how I apply it to every day situations like something stressful happening at work, or a car cutting in front of me on the highway just so they could get off the exit ramp two seconds before I could. Before stepping on the accelerator and screaming obscenities which would only make things worse, particularly if it was an unmarked police car chasing another person... counting to ten helps a great deal. I could also use this method when my daughter decides that the dog's water is fun to splash in, and/or drink, and subsequently soaks herself and everything within a ten foot radius.

It's not just a way of preventing yourself from saying or doing things you don't mean, it's a method of relaxation that you can practice to bring that blood pressure down, and reduce your stress level. A form of quick meditation without the dim lights, candles or soft music to bring yourself to a happy enough place to realize that messes can be cleaned up, people can be misunderstood, and it's not the end of the world if the toilet overflows from an action figure being flushed down it.

I was reading about how spirituality has a deep-rooted connection to mental and physical health, and it is beautiful how this count-to-ten method ties into that. Spirituality concerns itself with matters of the spirit which can be tied to religious belief or faith, in many senses of the word. It doesn't matter what you believe in, just that you believe in something. And by putting your faith and beliefs in something, it becomes part of your spirit, part of your soul and your every day way of life. This includes not only your mind and body, but also the development of your inner life through specific practices. Spirituality relates to matters of sanity, psychological health, personal, subjective dimension of religion, matters of the heart and my goodness, the health of those around you :)

I have now taken it as my mantra to practice my mother's tried and true count to ten method when life throws a particularly hard day or series of days my way. I try to remain as calm as possible so the young people around me who absorb everything like a sponge, do not take anything with them into the world I will regret. So that my friends know me as a level-headed person who gives a lot of thought to everything they do or say. So people know that I can listen to those who have opinions that differ than mine, and can calmly tell me they disagree with me on something knowing I will take that to heart and not get instantly defensive or upset with them.

Each day is a new lesson, filled with different challenges. It is how we deal with these challenges that allows us to adapt and move on... keeping the dog water dish at a higher level to prevent a repeat of drenched everything that made me so unhappy the last time for example. Try to allow more time when I need to travel somewhere so if someone does cut me off, I'm not stressed about it. To try to remember that my loved ones don't mean to get on those last tiny frayed ends of sanity, and that I do love them. I think if everyone in the world practiced a little more thinking about what they say or do when something upsetting happened, and takes those long deep breaths and just count, we'd have a lot less violence, a lot less stress, and a lot more blissful of a place to live in with their fellow spiritualists, artist, idealists and dreamers of dreams.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My answer to Brett's Question

Spoken with eloquence by Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor, who is now one of my heros. Wendy Mooney turned me onto this - thanks Wendy!

Please, take the 18 or so moments to check this out - wow.

A Romper Room for Spirit

It seems there was much excitement about this blog coming into existence, as is evident in the number of posts and comments early on, but as of late that has slowed. Has anything changed?
For me there are a number of things that limit my exposure here, ("limit my exposure" being one of them). I get too busy to sit and focus long enough to write something that is important to me, related to Spirit Fire and I feel is worthy of my asking others to take time from their busy lives to read. Now, having set my criteria for this post, onward!
I see Spirit Fire as a space in time to grow, to stretch into that higher vision of ourselves that we all carry, some a bit deeper than others but there just the same. A place to more deeply believe that we ARE magical beings, all of us. We get to play at that with others who are exploring their own paths. Like a spiritual Romper Room with a wide array of toys to play and learn with, a present, caring, playful staff and lots of colorful friends to be inspired by and to inspire, all wrapped up in a beautifully adorned, safe container. Any time we get to spend thinking more highly of ourselves has got to be good for us!
I invite us all to take the opportunity to be who we aspire to be, to see ourselves in our fire friends and to reflect the beauty of those present as much and as often as possible.
See you on the Mountain,

PS. If I post and ask a question, will that get more comments?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Traditions, New and Old

Mark and I have just returned from India, where we were part of the International Gathering of Elders. It was quite an amazing experience for many reasons, not the least of which is that is gave me a lot to ponder about the nature of heritage, culture and tradition.

In America, we are a country comprised of people whose ancestry is varied and diverse. Few of us can trace the family tree back more than a few generations and, overall, we have little connection to the countries from which our great, great grandparents originated. While we know ourselves to be, for example, of Italian, English and Dutch heritage, (or whatever combination is appropriate for each individual), these are just words that describe where our ancestors traveled from when they came here. We know very little about these cultures or their respective traditions. Let's face it - we're mutts! Most of our spiritual traditions are revivalist in nature and have little to do with where we actually came from.

In meeting people from all over the world, one of the things that Mark and I found interesting was the common thread that our traditions had been interrupted. Whether by war, displacement or persecution, nearly everyone could identify a break in their cultural lineage. Even our Native American friends spoke of the loss of heritage that happened when they were under siege. It seems nearly everyone who attended is still struggling to recover "the old ways." Some had gone to great lengths to research old folk tales, tattered books and still-standing villages to find a clue about how things used to be.

As I listened, it occurred to me that we might all be suffering from a need to "over-glorify" our ancestors in an effort to have solid roots. Yes, they left us a legacy. Yes, we benefit from the good they did. And (this is a very BIG "AND") - we are also left with their mistakes. It is our ancestors who "claimed territory", created hierarchies, marginalized one another, and drew invisible lines on a planet that had none, in order to define the differences between one "country" and another.

I am keenly aware that this "Gathering of Elders" was one in which many of the attendees were struggling to feel "legitimate." In a time where unity is a common theme amongst spiritual people, we spent a lot of our time in India making comparisons rather than experiencing the "One Tribe" conclave I had hoped for.

I loved the people I met from around the world and truly look forward to crossing paths with them in the future. This is not really about the people - its about authenticity. When we create a sacred circle, where do we place the elements? Do we place them where they actually are in our surrounding area or where we have been taught they should be? Do our symbols come from the world we share, or from history books and pictures of sacred sites? Who are the "ancestors" we call on?

What our ancestors did well is this: They listened to the Earth. She was the original teacher that ALL of our ancestors learned from. The word indigenous was used a lot at this gathering to identify who came from where. We are ALL indigenous, aren't we? Didn't we all come from Earth? Is there someone out there who is not from here? (If so, speak up now because we have lots of questions!)

The Earth taught our ancestors. The Universe was the classroom in which the 'traditions' were born. She will teach us in the same way, if we just listen. She has always been the teacher and she holds the lessons that are appropriate for this time.

So - what has this got to do with Spiritfire? EVERYTHING.

At Spiritfire, we are building new traditions that are based on our current life, not the life of the ancient ones. The ancestors are honored and recognized. They are called into the sacred space to inspire and guide, and yet, we are not tied to their ways. We are evolving, honoring one another, and allowing ourselves to be in the present moment, which is the only place we can be if we want to be inspired. At Spiritfire, the Earth Mother is present in each moment. The moon lights our path, and the stars dance with us. We are students of the entire Universe.

While I was in India, I found myself, over and over again, referring to Spiritfire and inviting people to share in this very unique experience. I handed out lots of postcards and am hopeful that some of the folks I spoke with will attend. I realized, as I was sharing, how very much I treasure the way we gather and what we do. I love the authenticity with which we meet each other. I love the depth of our sharing and the richness of our growth.

I feel very 'rooted" in this community, as it exists on the East Coast, in the Western States, and in other parts of the world we share. I feel the Mother as I dance the circle with you. I feel my heart as we connect eye-to-eye around the fire. And, as the energy rises through me, I become one with the stars and the moon and the entirely of All.

For this way, which is both as old as the dirt and as new as this very moment, I am deeply grateful.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


The other day we went skiing at our local area; it has a number of shorter, basic runs that are great for practice, and one or two longer ones that always test my stamina and technique. For me, skiing is a great way to clear the mind. Nothing helps one to focus and be present like the danger of falling down a steep hill!

The last time we were there, this day I referred to, I couldn't get myself into that place of presence as easily as I had in the past. It showed in my struggle to navigate the various terrain, and I got tired faster. It got better over time - made some adjustments to my boots, tried to relax and not push my pace - and even if it wasn't an effortless day of gliding, it was a good day of practice and learning overall.

What did occur to me, however, was that the situation seemed to mirror the fire circle in certain ways. It takes intention and focus to navigate the various terrain at a fire, and sometimes being "present" is challenging, while other times it's easy.

I'm wondering about your experiences with this. Can you think of times that being fully engaged at the fire was effortless, and times when it seemed really difficult? What struggles did you find yourself engaging with internally, and were there any externally?

And how did you work it out?