March 8, 2013

Journal Your Life Gracefully from Winter to Spring

Journal With Plant Allies and Let Go of What No Longer Serves You This Weekend.

 If you have read other entries on my blog, you will have likely come across many writings about seasonal living, as it deeply resonates with me philosophically. 

That said, I do not consider myself a wildly earthen woman. I am more like a girl who has lived in small cities that are close to nature, who somehow developed a deep connection and love for the forest, animals, insects, and the earth. 

Sun bright, winter trees, Deleware. N Sandhu
When I delve into a seasonal brain storm of earth based metaphors, I feel like kid of like a kid in a candy shop, or a builder in a hardware store, or a designer passing by the paint chip isle. There is an irresistible urge to dive in…a myriad of inspiration and direction…probably to the point of overkill, but, whatever.

I can’t help it. I consider it the root of my practice as an herbalist, aromatherapist, and healer. The deeper I go into the world of plant medicine, and spiritual healing, the closer I feel to nature...

 Even if I am not outside everyday, I realize that I am just a minute sack of cells in this giant macrocosm of an earth.

Well…I think we are all more than that, but, my point is, we work together as one organism. We eat, we sleep, we procreate, we pass on. Life feeds on life.

We are blessed with waters that sustain us, the rivers are akin to the veins of the earth.

Those same elements of nourishment, can flood our streets, and tear us down when the weather is harsh and angry. This is so much larger than our concept of life....

The birth, death, and regeneration of our lives mirrors that of the four seasons. We can learn a great deal  through observation and listening.

I am grateful to have always lived in a four season climate. I have been able to observe how my body and the bodies of my peers change with them. And, for better or for worse, I have had my mental, physical, and emotional boundaries stretched and pulled pliable. Seasons make us more adaptable. Seasons make us more compassionate.

Seasons inspire me to be a better person. I process life with nature as a teacher. 

When we experience a full cycle winter, spring, summer and fall, we experience a real-time guide to life. Birth, death, and regeneration is a concept that flows through us all, and in every ounce of our being. 

Well...Warm Weather Makes People Smile...

The other day I was thinking about folks who live in areas of the West coast who always seem to look happy, fit, and full of life year round. I thought, “how nice it would be to simply by-pass the more prickly sides of winter! I can totally see why people choose to live in such climates!”.

From what I can tell, the human body was built to life in more temperate climates.

I mean, if you look at the earliest civilizations, most of them settled along pristine beaches and rivers that were a haven for warm weather. If they did not settle in such spaces, people were nomadic—leaving when the seasons got rough and returning when the seasons were softer to our delicate natures. It was that or death.

But, with all the evolutionary technology created, we can live just about anywhere comfortably. Maybe a little too comfortably. But, I am not complaining. I love my heat and warm baths. I will take those over not any day.

My day dreams over a more temperate also reminds me of judgments I have heard placed on folks who live in colder climates.  Well...maybe these are more like inner projections that I place on them. My thought response to this imagined conversation is to quietly say, “well…if you had to live 5-6 months out of every year in cold weather, you  too might fall into a place that lacks motivation, thus gaining weight, depression and stagnation...”.

My point is, It is human nature to retreat when the weather is cold.

Though human 'hibernation' in the winter months may not be the "healthiest" standard by virtue of most health enthusiasts...I think it's kind of normal...and with that, a certain beauty can prevail. 

But, There is a More Subtle Reward to Seek in Winter...

That being said, I think there is a deep knowing that can come from those who have to bare their way through hard winters. Yes, some of us may experience more suffering or grief on some levels, but, from this suffering can come great growth, understanding, and compassion. I had a conversation with a friend the other day where we had both come to a similar four season conclusion as of late.
Hands down, the most valued and long lasting lessons in our lives can be the ones that feel most challenging.

We can choose to see them as opportunities to really feel out the how’s and why’s on being a better human being.

I see winter in this light. The rougher the winter, the more miserable many people tend to be .Yet, so much light can be unearthed from under these shadows.

As mentioned earlier, this journaling exercise was originally a part of another post that I wrote on letting go of what no longer serves you.

As many of my posts, they are inspired by a photograph that I take, or a quote that I come across in my daily musings in life or on the internet. This particular post was inspired from the photo above from Sun Gazing's page on Facebook. 

I decided to extract this plant ally journaling exercise from the original post because it seemed too important to be so tucked away. So, here it has landed on it's on shiny page...

As I was writing through the original post, this journaling prompt came to me from I am not sure where, ha.

So...truly, this exercise is a gift from my heart to yours.

 It is a tool to ponder what you would like to release so you may make room to actively welcome a lifestyle you wish to embrace. 

Viola in Kentucky, N Sandhu
This exercise includes suggestions for particular plant allies to help you along with your visual journaling. You can take this as deep as you would like it to go. This exercise can be made over a period of a day or a few days. If you enjoy this exercise, it is likely it may benefit you for many years to come!

Our bodies process such information at such different rates, so, what it most important is that you take a pace that is sustainable for you to follow through with the entire journaling exercise.

And, as always, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask me. 

Welcome Change +Fresh Perspective With New Moon Wishes

This is definitely not necessary, but, you may want to integrate this three step journaling exercise into a monthly affirmation at each New Moon cycle. New Moon’s are a wonderful time to welcome new energy into your life with positive affirmations.

I have consciously welcomed the gentle powers of New Moon affirmations and wishes for over eight years now. I can tell you that they really and truly work!

Whether it is psychosomatic or just plain magical, I couldn’t tell you. All I know is these wishes can truly till and turn the soils for growth and positive change.

I personally use the book, New Moon Astrology, by Jan Spiller, though, I imagine there may be more out there. This book in particular offers astrological insights and clear affirmations in an easy to follow manner.

This makes it very easy to keep up with the energy of the current moon. It is also a wonderful way to regularly set intentions of self improvement, self-care, and self-love.

I can say that using this book monthly has really helped to deepen my understanding of the signs. Jan Spiller also offers monthly and weekly horoscopes that I would like to one day try out. And, no, I do not have any affiliations with her!

I only recommend from the heart.

If you do decide to use this visual journaling exercise, or a similar affirmation practice with each New Moon, I can tailor personalized blends to help you align with the current New Moon energy.

The energy and the intentions change monthly according the astrological signs. This month the New Moon will be in Pisces! Whoosh. I don’t know about you but, most everyone I know, including myself has shared stories of being put through a proverbial emotional wringer!

Pisces rules deep emotions, and I think a lot of our shadow selves…in a style that wears our heart on our sleeves and what not. So, I think this New Moon in particular is a really important one to look at. It may really help to wrap some old gunky thought patterns. These too become affirmations.

Who wants gunky affirmations to clog up their inner and outer workings?

Not me!

That being said, the sister post to this is much about being too hard on ourselves, myself, again, included.

There are some suggestions for tea blends and essential oil blends. If you do not have access to these things, let me know, as I love making and selling my herb crafts! You also have the option of enjoying personalized botanical products via my Alchemy of The Heart aromatherapy consultations.

So…here goes. Here are some steps on how to create what I call a 'Wheel of Life'. You can call it whatever speaks most clearly to you!

One Seekers Journal from Winter to Spring.... Another Seekers Journal to Embracing the New Moon 

Step One ~ Delve Deep and Acknowledge the Shadows

Recognizing the Beauty, Stories, and Lessons Within.

For this exercise, you will need to use three pieces of paper.

 Your first piece of paper will hold words that represent things you would like to release from your life that no longer serve you (ex: attitudes, feelings, habits, scenarios, relationships).

Take a few minutes of free flow writing to jot down the first words that come to mind.

These words can be written in any style; list, circle, randomly scattered, etc.

They may represent things that make you feel stagnant, they can be emotions based around fear, they can relate to your physical energy, etc.  These things may even feel like a small nagging, or maybe even a hindrance

That being said, this is definitely not a time for picking yourself apart. A gentle, but, real approach should be taken. You are doing this for yourself, there is plenty of space to be candid. 

Do not be afraid to look deeply. 

Do not judge what you are writing. 

No one else needs to see your piece of paper unless you are ready to share. I highly suggest keeping this as a personal exercise to start so that you can sit with it most honestly.

Sit with these words, and notice if there is a theme.

Pull out 3-8 words that seem to resonate most. If you have a hard time mentally targeting which words, scenarios, or feelings resonate most, look to your body for answers.

Which of those words elicit the most physical response in your body?

You may feel it as a tightening in your gut, a feeling like a hot flash, or a heaviness along your head and shoulders.

Once you have figured out which words strike you as most heavy or daunting, write those on the back or along the side of this same piece of paper.

You may find that once you have written them down, you have an advantage. They can become less confusing. You have now begun an active and physical manifestation to let them go.

Plant Allies ~ Sitting With Rose and Spikenard

Rose can share an energy of gentle, but, steady courage, beauty, and strength. It is a classic flower, and I would imagine, it is the most popular flower in the world. The essential oil is tonifiying, meaning that it inspires tone in the tissues.

Energetically, I feel Rose it helps to fortify the emotional spirit. It can strengthen the emotional heart when times are rough.

The essential oil can be blended with Spikenard Root as an blend of allies to help us recover from grief.

Spikenard is known to help us along journeys into the deeper aspects of our soul selves. It is deeply sedative, so, if you are experiencing any depression, I would suggest only working with Rose.

Spikenard is a strong sedative, and so makes a lovely companion herb that helps us to acheive deep sleep.

 Its deeply floral, rich, and almost chocolaty tone serves as sturdy supporting base in my dream blend. I have been using this blend as a spiritual bathing oil a few hours before bed each night this week.

Rose petals can also be used as an anti-depressant, particularly for those with somewhat of a brooding depression. It is cooling in nature, and I believe that it can help reduce sadness and anxiety that is a result of many years of deep seated anger or resentment.

Rose can be a powerful plant ally for those embarking on their journey into seemingly dark and murky aspects of their mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical states of health. 

I suggest making a cup of tea with Cardamom, Rose, Lemonbalm, Nettles and Honey. This is tea that is light hearted, dreamy, supportive, strengthening, yet deep. It is suitable for someone who is feeling like they are “in the much of it”.

If you are feeling as though you would like to welcome the deeply rooting and inward reflecting energy of Spikenard, consider anointing yourself with a diluted version of this essential oil or the dream blend prior to making the above list.

Ask for dream guidance before you go to sleep—dreams can offer great insight from our subconscious, and I also believe from our ancestors.

They can show you ways to process and let go of what no longer serves you...

You truly should do this on a night where you are able to go to bed early or sleep in the next morning.

It is possible that your dreams will be vivid. You may have a lot to journal about the next day. Working with Spikenard can be very deep, so, I think it is important that you balance it with light hearted activities or other light hearted oils, such as lemongrass, citrus oils, or lemonbalm. 

Step Two ~ Ponder Muses and the Lighter Side of Life

Aspirations, Manifestation & Creation.

Nurturing my inner muse, taking time to wrap gifts, and
mailing magic packages via USPS.
Take a moment to visualize all the things in your life that make you happy. Yes, this includes daydreams!

Think of colors, landscapes, people, patterns of self-growth, activities, etc.

What things do you find make you most happy? Is it cooking a good meal? Writing? Spending time with friends and family? Running on a Woodland trail? Playing music? Taking a warm bath? Watching a particular genre of movie?

What emotions and thoughts do these activities elicit? 

If this seems difficult, think back to your childhood and young adult life. Quite often, this is when we feel life is much simpler for, though, not always.

No matter when or where the most gratifying times in your life existed, look back and capture those little things..those emotions, physical activities and creative outlets that made you treasure life!

 Maybe those things are plentiful now!  

Write these down on your second piece of paper and as you move through them, see if there is an underlying theme. You will go back, and like the first page, collect and record 3-8 words that most resonate with you. Only, this time it will reflect what you most feel ready to welcome into your life. Honestly...if only one word resonates, that is fantastic too! 

Less so often can be more. 

Plant Allies ~ Sitting With Lemongrass

Mixing up an earthy, yet, cheerful blend at home this week;
uplifting, yet grounding for these final days of  winter!
Lemongrass is one of my all time favorite essential oils when it comes to healing and pacifying the sometimes painful layers that winter can allow to resurface.

The essential oils is very sweet, and calming.

Though, lemongrass’s pleasantly sour and citrus-like scent is uplifting, it is not a citrus.

The essential oil has anti-depressive qualities and can also be used effectively in a belly massage oil for an upset stomach.

 It is anti-spasmodic, slightly sedating, and carminative.

Carminative herbs contain particular essential oils that are warming to the gut and helps relieve gas.

The spirit of lemongrass sits with the energy of a child and creativity. It is really wonderful to add to blends to help our bodies adjust to the end of winter, preparing for spring.

It is liquid sunshine in a bottle! I have totally witnessed clients who begin to laugh for no seeming reason after they smell lemongrass. This is when I know it is an especially good fit!

One thing to note in terms of safety, is that Lemongrass can cause a skin sensitive reaction in some. So, as with many other essential oils, be sure that you dilute your oils properly and perform a skin patch test to make sure to prevent a burning sensation.

Lemongrass can help us to welcome in new, light, joyful energy when we are ready and in need.

 I have really experienced some amazing shifts when using this plant ally to help me get over a stretch of low energy, or seeming "stuckness". 

 Just this past week, I felt so thankful for my heart chakra blend {that which lemongrass inhabits}. I felt so much better after using it, that I had forgotten that I was at all feeling down prior. This lasted for over a day before I made the heart felt connection with application of the essential oils. Though, I obviously believe that aromatherapy is very effective, it is always nice to be surprised by just how effective it can be!

Time is one of the most valuable tools for an aromatherapist and herbalist to utilize. As the cycle of seasons and years pass, I truly get to see how these herbs and essential oils work with our ever changing states body and mind.... it is so incredibly fascinating!

Step Three ~ Making a Wheel of Life to Inspire Transformation

Melting of Winter, resurfacing of Spring.
Ithaca, NY. Nishaan Sandhu

Create a seamless flow from the in between spaces; Winter and Spring, light and dark, softness and strength.
Here, you will choose three different colors that personally represent:

self-reflection            inspiration      transformation

These three words will represent the corresponding pages of this three part journaling exercise. Do not worry about choosing these colors right at this moment, we will walk through this together.

The "Self-refelction" color choice represents your recognition of letting go.

The  "inspiration" color choice represents your welcoming of affirmations and positive changes.

The "transformation" color choice will be used to record the activities and allies you have chosen to support you along the way. It will also represent the color that you choose to represent yourself during this upcoming transformation period.

There are a few ways that you can go about choosing your colors....

First, sit quietly for a moment. Take three deep breathes; inhale what you welcome, and exhale what you let go of.  You can sit in this meditation as long as you would like. Just be sure to not get caught up in the details of what you want to let go of. This is all about focusing on the positive and being able to receive the "muckier side of life" as a gift and opportunity for growth.

So, again, focus on your breath...

Do any colors come to mind?

If so, you may want to consider these your power colors for the upcoming season.

These will be colors that you welcome into your life to support you along these steps towards actualizing your vision.

I know this may seem simplified...but, sometimes the littlest things offer great supports. I have been attracted to particular colors all winter, and after having a spirit session with a trusted friend who live far away, she repeated to me the how supportive those exact colors are fro me at this time...Yet, she had not seen me in person to know of these recent color cravings. 

If you are more tactile, you may prefer to physically pick out the colors from a selection of colored pencils, pens, crayons, or markers that speak to you.

If neither of these color picking options work for you, it is okay! Everyone's toolbox is different. If you feel like adding color to your final piece,  and would like some help, you can follow my color key suggestions below.

Creating Your Wheel of Life...An Inner Path to Transformation

Now, I will suggest to begin with a golden yellow. Create a circle that covers most of your page. This will be your foundation and the space you intend to create for your journey. Yellow is a color of strength, vitality, action, self-empowerment and actualization. So, I think that it is an important color to use here. 

 If this color suggestion does not speak to you, go with what your gut tells you.

Now, choose a color that appears to be most inspiring to you. What color comes to mind?

Before reading on, sit for a moment and feel what truly comes to you.

If this does not come naturally, again, you can use the few suggested color combinations that may be of help to you in the color guide at the end of this post.

 Let Go of Concepts That No Longer Serve You

Along the outside perimeter of the upper right quadrant to the lower right quadrant  of the circle {position of 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock}, write the few words that words that  you have decided you would most like to let go of. Choose a color that you feel most comfortable with, maybe it is an old favorite, or a color you associate with yourself. 

Welcome Words of Inspiration and Action

Along the outside perimeter of the lower left quadrant to the lower right quadrant of the circle {6 o’clock to 12 o’clock}, write the words that represent the feelings, ideas, and habits you would like to most welcome in. For these words use a color from your pre-chosen colors that feels a little edgy, exciting and new for you.

 Line Your Inner Circle with Arrows to Inspire Movement and Positive Action.

Along the inner perimeter of your circle, use the color orange to create arrows in a clockwise motion that begins from 12 o’clock. This is drawn to help set in your intention for action.  In the center of your circle, draw an inner circle. Write your name and the number one thing you would like to welcome into your life.

Create a Solid Gold Circle-Symbol of Strength, Courage and Your Cohesion. 

This is also a place where I will suggest the color yellow/gold. Create a circle in the center of your original circle and color it in solid. Write your name, one practice that you will begin to integrate into your life to help bring about positive change, and the plant ally listed that most resonates with you. Or, if you already have another plant, or animal in mind that you consider to be an ally of support, write their name, paste a picture, or create a simple line drawing to represent that ally.

Using the Elements of Fire and Water as Allies 

Joyous child, deep earth bath blend. Nourish Botanicals.
When you have finished creating your third piece of paper, find a safe way to set fire to your pages from step one and step two. {Please use caution here. Do it outside and have plenty of water nearby!}

This burning process is purifying. It will help to create space for your focus to be completely on the positive action. You may like to put your new affirmations up on a board.

If you feel that seeing the “old patterns” {12 o’clock to 6 o’clock} does not serve you, burn it all! You may like to cut out the center circle and place that in a special place by your alter or near a mirror that you see daily.

Take a nice hot bath with cleansing bath salts and some essential oils, herbs, or crystals if you so desire. Salts are drawing, and a great way to clear out stagnant energy. Epsom salts are easy to find at most grocery or drug stores. Or, if you have access, dead sea salts are always a beautiful addition.

Wishing you gentleness for yourself, 
strength through the shadows,  
& love throughout this transformation...

Color key and guide below...

 Spring is a time for new growth, letting go, purification, creation, and fertility. The colors that first come to mind are greens and blues. They are cool in nature, and I think a gentle transition from the starkness of winter. The other colors that come to mind are vibrant, but soft pinks, yellows and purples. Much like many of the colors above!

You can look at the color chart below to see if they elicit and responses as well. If not, read about them and decide intellectually which colors you intentionally invite into your life in support and as guides.

That being said, this is a rudimentary guide on color therapy that comes from the top of my head!Much of it is from books I have read over the years, and some of it comes from personal interpretation.

Red-Is grounding, warming, and energizing. It is a very powerful color, a color of vitality, and a color of action, through deep grounding. It is connected to the root chakra, earth, and a sense of confidence.

Pink-Can vary from benig very soft to very vibrant and bright. It is a color lesser known to be associated with the heart chakra. This color is very nurturing, sweet in nature, and calming to the nerves. Depending on the shade, like any color, pink can be very warm or cooling. Though, lighter shades are just about always pacifying. The more vibrant shades of pink to me are daring, bold, vibrant, and worthy of attention. It is like red with a twist. Only, I see a really bold hot pink as a color that says "Yes! That is my point! I am confident, and comfortable in my skin. If you don't like it, maybe you should consider that your problem, and mot mine." I feel like pink is almost a social statement. Too many people have attached bizarre connotations to the color. I am hoping that more people choose to take this color back into power, and away from projected  weakness.

Orange-Is a color of creativity, and physical expression. It is also an action oriented color, though, not nearly as vibrant as red. It seems to be a color that inspires physical action, movement, and dance. It correlates to the sacral chakra, which also connects to sexuality, fertility, and creation. I see orange as nourishing to the soul and a giver of life. Peach may offer a cooler, gentler nudge of action. I  see peach as a very maternal and nourishing color in nature.And, actually, peaches, the fruit are very nourishing and cooling medicinally as well!

Yellow-As mentioned earlier, is a color that also inspires speedy action, and it shouts "here I am!" Hence a yellow cab! It is a color that can really help us to support our confidence, and most definitely inspires joy. It is connected to the Solar Plexus chakra, self-confidence, and the ego {ego is not always bad!}

I have a very good friend who says that she feels that if love were a color, it would be yellow. Four or five years later, I can finally see what she means. I can now see how yellow is a color of love. It is a color of self love, and unconditional love. Once we can accept the golden energy of all those we love, we know we love their true selves, in times better and worse...and therefore unconditionally!

Green-Represents freshness, new beginnings, healing, and is also very nurturing. It is the more commonly known color associated with the heart chakra. I think this is a powerful color for spring!

Blue-is a color that inspires calm and dreaminess. Becuase it is so peaceful, blue is considered to be one of the best colors to paint a bedroom! Blue, or deep indigo blue is connected to the Third Eye chakra, the area of intuition and thinking. Though blue is a color of peace, it can also facilitate deep thinking and meditation. I find that the paler blues are more soft, and relaxing, while the deeped blues inspire deepness, spirituality, and even sense of royalty. Well...hence the color Royal Blue!

Purple- Is a creative color that inspires intuition, and spiritual thinking. It is another color that I find royal at times, and very spiritual. {Wait, isn't there a "Royal Purple" as well?}. The paler versions of purple, such as ultra-violet can inspire connection with our higher selves.

Brown-...the color of earth, hence grounding. This is a trust inspiring color that I find very calming at times. Too much brown can make people feel low in energy. It is really a blend of any two colors mixed together. While some may feel that brown is a color of muddled-energy, I think that brown can be a color of patience, nurturance, and support. So, if you love it, go for it!

Grey-Is a color, if you call it that, of intellectual thinking, yet, it can be very peaceful, and placid, like blue. When I think of grey, I think of writers, poets, and sensitive folks. I think this is becuase grey can be such a solid color in terms of support. I used to see it as gloomy, but, part of me think that it was a reaction to all the poets and musicians I grew up around who wore mostly grey and black, hah! It is a cool color that allows for plenty of space for free thoughts to form, yet, it still somehow provides focus. Grey is streamline. Grey gets the job done.

Black-Is a color of protection, grounding, and stability. Too much black can bring people down or appear to be gloomy. Black is the absence of all color, yet, it is also the color of really good soil!

I personally think that black is quite beautiful. Though, throughout my life I have gone through phases of my life where my base color is either being black, or brown!

Another common base color, as mentioned above, is grey. Do you have a favorite base color? If so, do you feel it resonates with the above interpretations and meanings?

I truly hope this has been helpful for you. Please let me know over time if you feel you have had any successes or shifts with the process!

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