If you’ve taken any of my classes, you may be familiar with the idea that different parts of the body correspond to specific processes we do through. Liver is anger, the neck is creativity, shoulders are the pressures we put on ourselves, low back pain can be emotions we don’t want to look at, and so forth.

Lung issues are frequently grief, especially for me. When my best friend suddenly passed away in 2007, I took a sharp breath in, a gasp really, and didn’t let it back out for months. It created medical issues that I’m still dealing with. In every subsequent loss, I have made a point of reminding myself to breathe, no matter what.

The months leading up to the thinning of the veils, April and October, are my most grief-full months. Anniversaries of trauma or loss are tenuous times for people. We are given the opportunity, each cycle, to process anew and to achieve new levels of healing and understanding. (As an aside, Chinese Medicine associates the lungs with autumn.)

Last October, my father died. In some traditions, the tradition is to mourn your dead for a full year, and I can see why. You might be amazed how foggy one can get in grief – giving yourself a year is the compassionate thing to do. This latest loss adds to pre-existing grief, layering, like too-thick paint on a wall. But I endeavor to breathe, to process, to allow the grief to do what it needs to do, without fighting it. We are moving into that time of honoring the ancestors, so I at least have practice and tradition to lean on.

Mostly, though, the breath. It’s something tangible to focus on. Breathing.


Posted in Autumn, Crisis, Health, Musings, Personal growth, Practice, Seasons, Tools

Weekly Roundup of Web Links is Back!

Patron Saints for Modern Situations

Our Place in the Universe

How to Keep Food Fresh Longer

The Veils Have Thinned…

What a Shaman Sees in a Mental Hospital

Posted in Autumn, Health, Shamanism, Tools, weekly round up

Quick Ways to Deal With Day-to-Day Stress

Thus far, we’ve taken an overall, systemic look at stress and how to deal with it. Not everybody is willing to put in the time and effort required to treat life stress as a systemic issue, or they have only just started and aren’t feeling the benefits of the work. What can you do if your job is stressful, or you have an aging parent to deal with, or a newborn child, and you need to be able to just get through the day?

When you’re in a stressful situation, start by focusing on the soles of your feet and breathe as slowly and deeply as possible. Push any frustration or impatience you might feeling down through the soles of your feet into the ground beneath. If you’re on an upper floor and you’re concerned about the people beneath you, imagine those feelings going through the superstructure of the building and then into the earth. The earth recycles things we don’t find beneficial, whether it’s CO2 or frustration and anger, so you don’t have to worry about it once the feelings hit dirt. Keep breathing deeply, slowly, and, if you can, put  the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Continue to allow the negativity to flow out through your feet.

Part of our stress can come from the idea that we have to respond to our situation. Sometimes, it’s okay to do nothing. Just breathe, feel your feet, let go of any negativity, and relax. If you can get away with not even saying anything, so much the better. If you do have to give a verbal response, try non-committal ones,  like “I’ll have to get back to you” or “I hear what it is you’re saying” and leave it at that. When we get rid of the idea that there has to be an immediate response, we at the very least stop any stress that we’re putting on ourselves.

Like any other technique I’ve suggested, this will take some practice. It’s probable that these are “muscles” that haven’t been exercised in a while. Don’t feel like you have to do it perfectly, but allow yourself to be aware of when progress is made. The more you do this, the less stressful individual situations will become over time.

Posted in Personal growth, Stress, Tools

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