Food For Thought Friday Feb 17, 2017

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT FRIDAY

There is a point at which one stops talking and starts walking away.

We all have our limits and know what is best for ourselves. Nobody can dictate that to you, but you must make the effort to be self-aware and recognize when something is not good for you.

I insist on being treated as an equal. That’s a sticking point for me and if it’s something you’re not capable of doing in a relationship with me, it’s a total deal breaker. “Friends off.”

What’s your sticking point, what’s your deal breaker?

Just think about it.

Self Care

The more you do for others, the more you need to do for yourself. Truth!

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I do a lot to take care of myself, because I have a lot of people relying on me to support and encourage them! Caring for others gives me a sense of purpose and fulfillment, and of being connected.

For years I struggled against the idea that if I did anything for myself it was selfish, believing that it was taking from others in order to satisfy my own needs. But after exhaustion, chronic illness and depression, I came to the realization that this was something others told me in order to exploit me. They drained me dry and once I was empty, they moved on to someone else they could manipulate and exploit.

Fortunately, I had a partner who was supportive and generous, allowing me the time to rebuild myself. I quit working for a year and focused on refilling my cup, so to speak!

I was free to practice daily ceremony, drumming, dancing, dreaming, and writing.

During my time off, I rebuilt my physical health by listening to the things my body told me while dancing. I dove deeply into the 5Rhythms of Gabrielle Roth. I learned to eat differently. I hiked a lot, visiting waterfalls, lakes, and caves. I was intent on rewilding myself, reuniting with my nature, and revitalizing myself as a whole.

After a year of yoga, hiking, and pilates, plus a year and a half of Crossfit, I finally put on my old Irish dance shoes to do a fast reel, something I never thought I would be able to do again when I injured my back so many years ago.

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Hello my old friends!
It’s been years since we danced together. #backonmyfeet #irishdancegrandma #crossfitgrandma #havingallthefun

The freedom of movement filled me with such joy! This is the end result of learning to make room for me in my life, of caring for myself the way I care for others.

I feel resilient, competent, capable, and empowered. I feel reenergized.

It is because of this energy that I may continue supporting and encouraging all those who rely on me.

So you see, SELF CARE IS NOT SELF INDULGENT at all!

 

Bear and Tiger Medicine

Today I overheard a conversation about the archetypes of Bear and Tiger. It piqued my curiosity, because I have walked with Bear since I was four years old and only recently was given Tiger to work with in my shaman practice.

The immense power and strength of the bear I know best is the Grizzly, as encountered in the wilds of northern British Columbia, Canada.

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Bear doesn’t generally go looking to pick fights with humans, so when we go hiking we wear “bear bells” which jingle as we move. This lets Bear know where we are so that if he is berry picking or fishing in the area, he can move away and avoid contact with us.
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However, if you “poke a bear with a stick” and provoke him, you will see the full strength and ferocious self-defence of which he is capable!

Bear roams his territory in search of sustenance, but he avoids confrontation wherever possible, even though the power and strength of his size makes him almost undefeatable.

In my shaman practice, Bear gave me the sense of being well grounded.

The strength of that connection with the earth and it’s cycles of life gave me the patience and tolerance necessary for avoiding most confrontations and unnecessary conflict. It gave me the knowledge that I am capable of causing great harm to others but I am happiest doing my own thing and letting others do theirs. I practice this a great deal as a parent.

The Bear Family Stand UpGenerally, I Have tried to teach my cubs the life skills they need to be independent and how to choose their battles wisely. I taught them that when it comes to our family being attacked, our self-defence is a fight to the death (figuratively speaking). Woe to those who would poke my cubs or me with a stick!

Tiger came to me as I entered a period of working in the South of the Medicine Wheel, the element of which, is Water.

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My story now requires me to work with Tiger and the one who came to teach me is a magnificent white Bengal Tiger. I’m sure there are a great many things I will learn from Tiger, but immediately I see the comparison between my long familiar Bear and this new teacher.

Tiger stalks about his territory, alert to any signs of intruders and warning them off with loud, fierce roars. He actively asserts himself over his domain, and viciously attacks those who would ignore his warnings. Tiger does not avoid confrontation, and relishes the challenge of a battle well fought.

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Tiger does not wait for an attack, but establishes and maintains his boundaries daily.

Rather than seeking solace by moving inward during hibernation as Bear does, Tiger remains active, establishing wellbeing and security by diligently patrolling his territory in search of those who would steal from him.

Now, while I do not look to create conflict, I remain alert and daily assess the wellbeing of me and mine.

Where I see potential for a conflict, I take action, warning those who are pushing against my boundaries that they would be wise to back off. In essence, I show them my claws and if they do not heed the warning, they soon learn how much I have come to relish the challenge of a good fight.

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For years I have been affectionately named Mumma Bear or Sha-Mumma Bear. My loved ones have always known that I preferred to avoid conflict, but would fight aggressively and stubbornly in defence of myself or my loved ones if they were attacked.

I wonder what nickname they will give me now that I am more Tiger than Bear in my practice.

 

 

Tiger Medicine

This entry is from my Dream Journal in summer 2016.

I’m going to my sacred space to ask for help with understanding what I’m feeling. I’m anxious and tired.

For weeks I’ve been having intense dreams of violence,

of being tested in crisis situations, helping others to safety but finding only temporary safety for myself and knowing there’s something I must be preparing for.

I sit in the middle of my space, cross legged on the ground. I allow my guides to feel what I am experiencing. I let them feel my dreams, the ones about being maimed, chased, tested. What are these? What should I be doing with these dreams?

I receive an answer but I’m intimated and question it: allow myself to be torn into pieces by the beasts who are chasing me? Am I ready for that? What would that be like?

I imagine myself in the place of the last dream I had, on the edge of a bluff that overhangs a shallow gully. I hung off the overhang and dropped to safety before. What if I allowed the beast chasing me to catch me?

It is a great white and black striped tiger.

He leaps on me and we fly off the overhang. I never dream of exotic or mythical creatures. What’s up with this? I am preoccupied by wonder so that I don’t,at first, notice the pain of hitting the ground and having the claws puncturing deeply into my muscles of my arms and legs. The teeth are at my throat. I feel hot breath and fiery pain. Something is tearing at me and I cannot stop it. Brute force smashes my head, my bones against hard rock beneath me. I’m scared now. I’m scared of feeling more pain. How long can I endure? The pain continues, sharp stabbing, deep burning, intense rending of my joints. I must be dead now. Make the pain stop. How can I still be feeling things when I am no longer even in one piece? But I do. I feel it. I feel gnawing on my neck. A foot pressed into my belly. My knee over there. My arse over here. My arm somewhere else.

Blackness now.

And short bursts of light and heat like fireworks. No more pain. Wondering where the fireworks are coming from. My face feels different. My jaw protrudes in an unfamiliar way. My hands and feet are all directly beneath me. I feel like it would be awkward to have my hands above my feet the way I normally do.

Is this my new normal?

I am so heavy! I pace. I am restless. Not hungry, but I have an appetite. I’m looking for a challenge. I’m looking for a fight, but not a fight to death. I want someone who can match me. And then stay with me. For a time. And always return to me after another time.

I’m a young man now. I am in the mind and body of a young man.  Not young as in teenager, but not an old white haired man. I am muscular, dark hair, tall, I am annoyed by the people around me. They irritate me with their strident voices and simpering. I’m bored. I want someone to challenge me, to push me, to give me space to do my thing but know that I will always be there for them, I will always return to them. No insecurity. I don’t want to deal with insecurity. See me for who and what I am. Accept that I will not always be there every day but I can be relied on to care, to help, to support.

A wolf. No. A dog? A wolf-like dog is by my side. I’m still the young man. I don’t think I’ll find what I want. Too many people want to own me.

I don’t want to be owned. I want to belong. I want to fit like a puzzle piece.

How are these things connected?

I see myself as a tiger now. Alone and enjoying the trees, grass, sunshine, water, but alone.

I’m tired. Sleepy. I want to nap in the sunshine. I rest my head on my paws and close my eyes.

The drums call me back. I sit in my body again, cross legged on the ground in my sacred space. I am me again. I dream of the young man. I dream of lying beside him in the sunshine, on a sandy beach. I smile and I sleep. In this dream within a dream I am a tiger again. Sleeping with my head on my paws. It is a sight to see! A white tiger asleep beside a tall, dark haired man!

I hear the drums are still calling me back and I know that it is time to return completely from my sacred space in the dreaming.

Back in CR I feel sexually aroused. I need to sit outside in the rain on the ground before the sensations from the dreaming ebb completely away and I am fully back.

THOUGHTS:

I know from past experience that when I have been eaten by an animal it is so that I can understand its language, its perceptions, how it communicates. This way I can learn and understand its teaching.

Now I will be working, at least for a time, with a Bengal Tiger.

How is this tiger different from others? Why specifically a white Bengal and not some other tiger? More food for thought.

The young man I have seen many times before in dreams. I don’t know who he is but I often dream of sitting with him and just holding space for each other. I know his name and he knows mine.

I feel like the terrible dreams I’ve been having will not be back and that I will be spending some time sitting with Tiger.

‘Tis the Season

I need to write. I have all these stories inside me that are building up like pressure in steam kettle and need to be released.

My life sucks. It is tedious and stressful. The world I live in is corrupt, unstable, and toxic. I want so much to be happy and healthy, but everything around me is sick and twisted.

I am a pacifist, a humanist, and socialist (I think). I’m not much for labels, really. In any case, in the face of abuse, exploitation, and violence, I feel the urge to strike out. I want to make those people stop, to make them experience the pain they are inflicting on others. I know that it doesn’t necessarily mean they would then be able to empathize, or change their behaviour, but I feel the urge all the same.

How does one go on living in a world that offers violence as an answer to violence? It is an endless cycle of competition, which nobody ever really wins, because there is always somebody bigger and greedier coming in to exploit and abuse.

I’m so sick of it all.

Why can’t people just look out for each other, to make sure we each have what we need to sustain a peaceful and healthy life for all? Why must we hoard and exclude others instead of practice sustainable living for all?

Really, in the end, we all die anyway. Hoarding and excluding does nothing to save oneself from the inevitable. We all move on from this life eventually.

My body hurts, my heart is heavy and my mind is going in circles, slowly spiralling in on the desire to just get away from all the pain.

Only, I have a partner, children, and now grandchildren who depend on me to carve out a small place wherein we can feel at peace and loved unconditionally, so I do not allow myself to run in a desperate attempt to escape that which is inescapable.

I do this all year ’round, not exclusively during the holiday season, while everyone else around me seems to amp up  for it only once a year and that is supposed to suffice. As though once a year they can make up for all the rest of the time they neglect the care of themselves and their families.

I despise the wanton overindulgence and self-delusion I see in my fellow humans. I despair of it ever changing.

‘Tis the season, indeed.

 

Sitting on the Edge

I wonder if time is not linear but is actually a force in and of itself which ebbs and flows against a great rock wall. Slowly but inevitably, like water against stone, it erodes the wall until it is no longer a barrier to the free movement of the life-force which exists within time itself. We are all carried back and forth between this world and the Otherworld, returning wave after wave to contribute our small part in the ever changing tides of time.

Consensus Reality Sucks

I did not agree to this consensus reality . . . or did I?

There is this term we use in shamanic practice: consensus reality. The idea is that the reality we live in daily is constructed on principles and definitions of the world we all agree to. Herein lies the source of my depression and anxiety, because part of our consensus reality dictates that I, as a member of my community, get my power from the group. Thus, I am coerced into cooperating with whatever the leaders of said group want me to, in order to have acceptance and access to life sustaining resources (yes, this is a bit reductionist, but for the purposes of this post, it is what I’m working with as a definition).

Shaman values are in direct opposition of this. The group gets its power from the individuals who participate and contribute to its success. The group is only as valuable as the individuals of which it is made. We each have something to offer the group and when we do, the group becomes stronger. It is a more egalitarian approach to sharing this life with others. It is a consensus reality that is cooperative rather than competitive and which increases our chances of living sustainably with each other and in the world.

In the physical world where we manifest our beliefs and intentions, the struggle to live our lives based on egalitarian principles has gone on for thousands of years.

The general consensus of the society in which I live dictates that women are less valued than men; children are our possessions to do with as we choose; the world is our oyster to crack open, consume, and discard the remains with no further thought; we are superior to everyone else and entitled to our every desire; we are independent beings, separated from one another and significant because of our uniqueness; that which does not kill us dies because it is inferior to us and so on. We also used to agree that the earth is flat and our planet is the centre around which everything else in the universe evolves!

In the physical world where we manifest our beliefs and intentions, the struggle to live our lives based on egalitarian principles has gone on for thousands of years. When we examine history we can see that progress is being made, but we have so far to go! This often creates so much anxiety and depression in me that I need to take a few days to work through it before I can continue my work.

Consensus reality sucks. Changing it is hard. That is all.