- Balance and alignment. Small acts of restoring our alignment with the earth's cycles can lead us toward health and our true power;
- Occupying your life with habits of health. Strategies for overcoming patterns of addiction and imbalance, and;
- Big in the small. What does healing yourself have to do with healing the world?
On Balance & Alignment
There's a natural equilibrium to things. Opposites dance in delicious juxtaposition within all that is. Health is a state of balance... but it's not a static balance. It's life constantly pushing against death and decay. In this dynamic there is no good or evil; only balance and imbalance. Health is our natural ability to right ourselves, to regain our center, in the midst of motion. A surfer or skater or contact improv dancer will tell you, there is a peace that comes with riding with the motion instead of working against it. There are some pretty big forces of nature at work out there. How well will we ride with these changing times? What gives us this sense of balance? What knocks us off?
Balance is about alignment. When I was studying Tai Chi, my teacher stressed the importance of alignment. "When you are aligned with the earth beneath you, that's where your power comes from." A shift of foot, a position of knee, makes all the difference in whether my strikes will be rooted to the earth or cut off someplace in my body.
Alignment is something you can gain a sense for. It is not something that anyone else could tell you, if it's "on" or "off". When you've got it, you've got it. Accessing this power has to do with approaching the moment with a clear and open mind, and grounding yourself in your core.
My feet are rooted in the earth. As I sink down, her power gathers up through the center of my body and flows through my hands. I hold my legs steady, knees over toes, and feel the strength in my thigh muscles building as I keep them crouched in "horse stance". It takes a surprising amount of effort to keep form. The more I practice this, the more feel my energy growing in power. I notice the mornings I do Tai Chi, the power behind my words, my intentions and my actions are stronger, and clearer. I feel more at ease with myself, and my mind is more focused. The days I practice, I wonder what the heck is in my way, that I don't do this every morning of every day!
It is in aligning our purpose with the desire for wholeness and health of the Earth and all her people, living systems, and beings, that we will find the power to not only topple the 1% system and its inherent drive toward extinction, but also find the power to bend towards the ground beneath our feet and truly work together. To grow food. To mend. To thrive. We will only know true wealth when we begin investing in all of us, not just some of us.
A model of society centered on profit above all else is spinning our planet, her people, and her vital systems out of control. Conducting our relationships out of ego-stained projections is no way to go. Alignment is everything. Why do I do what I do? Is it from a sense of "should"? Is it based on emotional reactions to things I'm afraid of or angry about? Often, things I do out of a sense of "should" turn out to be hollow promises that I drag my feet to fulfill. The work drains my life energy, energy that could be spent doing things that feed me. Things I do out of a sense of foreboding or fear usually aren't my most wise or considered choices. Another more brilliant solution may be sitting right there, but I'd be too focused on my worries to notice it. The times I act out of anger, more often than not it blows up right back in my face moments or months later. What goes around, comes around.
The only thing that can give us the willpower, courage, and strength to overcome that which we must to survive the times ahead (I know this will sound cheesy!) is love. Love, plainly and simply put. There's a reason artists and musicians won't shut up about love. It is the answer. It's the fountain of energy that always flows.
Too many of us are drowning alone, in warped and twisted realities. We have bought into the illusion of separateness. We hunger for connection, and don't realize we have become like insatiable ghosts, consuming substitutes for the real thing. In pursuing our addictions, we are destroying everything in our wake.
How do we wake up from this story, and learn to find nourishment in the world around us again? We wouldn't need a substitute if we were given enough of the real thing: Connection.
Our most sacred relationships have been wounded all around us. There are some pretty horrible things we humans have done to each other, to other living beings, to our earth. There is so much to heal from. Sometimes it feels overwhelming. But we must stay with it. Stay past the blame, the shame, the anger, the grief-- and listen. Listening is a gift we give one another, that heals and connects. We begin to find the love we've been hungry for our whole lives. Each of us carries a child within us, that longs to be understood. We crave the possibility of oneness. It is this connection we sometimes glimpse, in the eyes of those dearest to us.
Is this sense of connection a phantom butterfly, that we chase in our romantic endeavors? Or can it be a deep and pervading kinship that extends beyond blood-ties? What is your story about love, and in what forms will you recognize it by?
Love is what's left after everything else is stripped away. Every child is born knowing how to honor life. It's never to late to start cultivating an open heart. Compassion means if I love one child, I can love all children. And we were all once children. The possibility of love is what keeps us reaching across differences. The possibility of love is what motivates forgiveness. Growing an open heart sends the tips of your roots way, way down, opening to the essence of the situation. No matter how many times we are mowed over, we will grow again. We will rise again. Rooting ourselves in love will make this revolution truly unstoppable.
There are small ways we can recover our alignment with the earth, and re-establish our natural rhythms. Once you begin looking for places that our dominant culture messes with ways we could be aligned with the earth, a picture begins to emerge. This picture seems to suggest a methodical and inexorable pushing off from balance of all the earth-based, indigenous cultures of the world, beginning with the tribes of Europe. Cutting us off from our alignment makes us easier to control. This culture is still suffering from the hangover-effects of the Roman Empire's conquest of the "Barbarian Hordes". How many Christian holidays* follow the timing of the most holy days for earth-honoring people? How many of the "traditions" associated with Christmas or Easter are actually ancient practices and symbols associated with nature-worship?
Why do calendar-months almost follow the moon's cycles but not quite? How aware are you of its cycles? Notice: does your body feel differently at different phases of the moon? Oceans and tides are affected by its pull... You walk on this earth. Why shouldn't you feel it, too?
Ancient cultures across the world once timed their plantings by the moon. We used to know which crops should go in the earth when, based on the moon. I'd love to learn this someday... I think there are still a few keepers of this information. Throughout the season, there are other messages, as well. How soon the spring frogs begin to sing. When the corn puts forth its tassel. Much time would be spent in observation, in listening. Elders were our treasures, because they could help us decipher what the signals meant. Their decades of experience, and lineage of information from their grandparents, could tell us something about the messages of earth. The earth talks to us all the time-- we've only lost the culture that teaches us to hear it.
We can regain alignment, and begin to hear those messages, in small ways every day. As Mary Oliver says, you have only to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. My eyes hunger for natural light, so in the daytime I open the blinds. At night I cover my eyes for true darkness. Given a choice between the grass or a sidewalk, I take the path less traveled by. (and yes, it has made all the difference!). I notice the moon's phases. I celebrate the seasons. I greet the signs I recognize, in the parade of life-cycles going by. Did you smell those crabapple blossoms yet? Did you let the rain of the storm kiss your face? Why not be as wild as possible, within the cages of self-limitation this culture is so fond of? Spend an hour each day noticing nature, gardening or taking a walk. Liberate your calendar. Live by the sun and moon.
Celebrating seasons also means eating locally. This early spring, I've been steadily browsing on the first early sprouts. Ever eaten stinging nettle, dandelion leaves, lily leaves, or fiddlehead ferns in your eggs or your soup? Wild-crafting is the art of knowing which of the plants out there are edible. These seasonal plants are natural food-medicines that help keep us healthy. Dandelion leaves and steamed nettles are excellent spring tonics for cleaning the liver, after a long winter of nothing but grains and roots. Try it! Way better for you than iceberg lettuce and California-shipped produce. All we need is truly right here. Little by little, we can regain the natural power and strength we once had as a people. As human creatures living in balance with the earth. It is possible.
On Addictions and "Occupying" your Habits with Health
Out of any given day, most of what we do is habit. It's astounding, to think of all the things we've never noticed could be done differently, because we were so focused on doing things efficiently. Efficiency is a recipe for streamlining your life to the point of exquisite boredom. Out of any given day, to what extent are you changing things up enough to keep awake to the moment? Do you feel you are as alive as you could be? Are you as happy as you want to be?
Changing patterns requires attention. It requires effort, and self-discipline. It requires crafty and careful strategy, and on occasion, great sacrifice. And the worst thing is, when you actually accomplish the change, it's still day by day. A bad day or a fight with someone we love can send us reeling back to where we started from, mired in the thick of addiction. I've had friends who have been smokers for decades. Several have managed to kick the habit, several haven't.
We live in an era of addiction. It's fair to say that our economy is addicted to oil. We are addicted to screens. We have replaced healthy patterns with unhealthy ones, succumbing to the sexy temptations of smartphones and cigarettes. It's quite possible that we were given our individual addictions as a gift. Once we understand how to cultivate willpower to end one of these smaller habits, we may be ready to tackle some of the larger ones. Perhaps we can end our addiction to world-domination, and be ready for peace at last.
Note: only you know what's out of balance and what's not. Anything, really anything can be an addiction. And things other people are addicted to, may be just fine for you. You know an addiction because it's the thing that starts pushing out other good things in your life. Then you make a choice. Do I want good things in my life, or just this ugly habit? Name it, then begin to change it. Get support. Start small. Be persistent.
The word "Occupy" will never be the same. Filling your life with the things you want is an act of revolution. Link together your desire to be healthy and powerful with the destiny of the planet and its people. We need you. We need you strong. Let's help each other occupy our lives with better habits.
The power of self-discipline can be self-taught. I heard someone say it takes 3 weeks to cultivate a new habit. What 3 things do you want to grow out of? Find 3 things to fill that time/space/pattern with, that you want to invite. Start slow. Occupy just one part of one hour without your addiction. Fill the time instead, with something that feeds you. Then do it again tomorrow. You have a whole summer. One month per habit. You can do it!
The big in the small. It's a matter of perception.
In case you are wondering what all this self-healing work has to do with fighting a Revolution, I leave you with a couple images, a quote and a poem. On photons and galaxies. The world reflects itself in more ways than we can possibly know.
Photo and quote from "Super Vision; A New View of Nature" by Ivan Amato.
"Entangling". Life becomes even more fantastic the more we learn about it. Quantum mechanics have found that they can "entangle" two photons, the particles that make up light. In other words, even though the photons are separate, they can share a single quantum state, which is like saying that one photon carries the face of the coin and the other photon carries the tail. Actually, it's weirder than that because both photons are, in a sense, simultaneously in the head state and the tail state until someone takes a look at one of the photons. That act of looking effectively causes the photon to "choose" one or the other state, and that instantly entails that the other photon carries the partner state. Ultraviolet photons have wavelengths in the 200-nanometer range."
Photo of MyCyn18, an 8,000-light-year-distant nebula. This space object has a diameter about 1 light-year across. Also from the book "Super Vision".
as we choose
which way to be
just the act of looking
can change the result
how will you choose