What your wounds are aching to tell you: Chiron

True maturation on the Spiritual path requires that we discover the depths of our wounds. - Jack Kornfield

This post will explore the concept of Chiron in our charts and how we can use it to learn about our wounds in order to heal. Let us begin by acknowledging the astrological term Chiron, a comet that flies between the planets Saturn and Uranus. Chiron is symbolic of the greek centaur who was a healer in his community but ironically was not able to heal himself. When we see Chiron in the chart it gives us a clue into some of the wounds we will be working with.

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If you want to pull up your birth chart and find out what your chiron is click here.

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The route of Chiron is significant orbiting between Saturn (symbolically associated with Capricorn) as well as Uranus (symbolically associated with Aquarius). Saturn requires boundaries, structure, rightful authority, time alone while Uranus is the rebellious planet, liberated, dismissing authority, a creator of chaos BECAUSE it knows that truth is indestructible, and symbolic of the collective community. An interesting route to take absorbing lessons from both.

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But I will tell you something that is true for me, liberation comes from a deep understanding of self. With boundaries, and structure we are able to explore the different aspects of ourselves. We are able to promote a healthy environment for ourselves to do this work. I.e. When I wake up I do not go on social media until after 9 AM ensuring I have time to meditate and won’t be distracted by the pulls of social media.

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I wrote a post last week around my accident (see instagram) and feel so much of it describes my exploration of my pain or wounds. After a neck injury there has been a new study of injury in the body, in the spine specifically. How the slow exploration of poses and accepting my restrictions (not turning my head all the way) changes the theme of my practice.

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I have begun to explore a a more somatic approach to meditation which has provided me insight into PTSD. I watch how my body reacts when in a car, how stress has a designated pathway across my shoulders where it settles just below my injury. I see how a practice like Abhyangha soothes my nervous system, reminds me of my worthiness, and gives me a chance to intimately touch my body.

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This curiosity and compassion to my wounds has been  monumental. I feel strongly compelled to encourage others to also take time to get to know this aspect of themselves. Everyone of us has experienced pain, has a unique story with gifts, and vulnerability  that make us perfectly imperfect. Our wounds can heal us, and the care and compassion of this lesson is key on this venture.


Summer In Review

Every time we move into a new season I find myself excited and dreaming up all of my plans that I can partake in. This Summer is not an exception, the nicer weather and heat draw me to the water and activities where I can enjoy the sun and excess time outside. These days I also bring that attention, inwards. My current studies in Yogastrology set me up for these types of learning opportunities. Regardless if you believe in astrology or use it as a tool, I have never felt a loss after exploring the lessons Dianne has choreographed in our monthly lessons. Weather the month is themed around boundaries and healthy habits, or how we partake in community or family, I ALWAYS leave feeling fulfilled and curious. We all have special interests and talents, and introspection and exploration into the more subtle is a “thing” of mine.

I wanted to share with you some tips I am practicing this summer.

 

  • Slow wins the race.

After the death of two major figures in our society Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade I wondered what I could do personally to be part of the solution to this problem in our society. I decided what was in my control was to give myself time to digest my life. In every aspect, physically, mentally, emotionally. I saw how when I am moving fast I will hop onto the next thing, excitement about a new adventure I would soon find myself burnt out and in similar themed lessons. Like I hadn’t learned my lesson and was just playing out the same scenario in a different context. So right now to bring in the opposite quality I vow to move slower. In honor of myself and others, I will make sure to give myself time to process.

  • Foundation is fundamental

In yoga we learn how essential it is to have a strong core, how much more our practice can expand when we have this foundation. Similarly, houses are built from the ground up with a strong foundation. We see this constantly in the world around us, so it is probably something we as human beings can also integrate into our belief system. Foundation. Our physical bodies are part of that foundation. Hydrating our bodies even more so in the heat, feeding our bodies the fuel that benefits us. The past month I was having too much fun and jeopardizing my sleep. It quickly affected my digestion and the cycle begins. Let’s acknowledge the facts of Summer. It’s hot, there is more alcohol around, the sun is out for longer. Alcohol is dehydrating, these are facts, so be smart and make sure if you drink Alcohol you counter that with double hydration. Seriously, we are instantly happier after hydrating these fine bodies. Food, we are lucky because it is salad and smoothie season. We aren’t locked to the kitchen this season and can eat a fresher diet. Check out Ayurvedic suggestions for the summer season to stalk up on cooling foods for Summer.

  • Setting aside time for reflection.

This summer season is full of retrogrades in the astrology world and retrogrades are all about reviewing, going over the past. These retrograde periods invite us to move on from our habits or ways of attracting the same lesson over and over again. We can slow down, take inventory and have choice in the direction we take our lives. Jack Kornfield, one of my favorite authors writes about these times of reflection, stopping to ask yourself is there heart in this path? Are you spending your time and energy doing the things that are in alignment with your heart? He writes that in the end the only three things that matter are: How well you lived, how well you loved, how well you have learned to let go. So perhaps keep this checklist around when you take time for reflection.

 

15 Signs Your Digestive Fire Is Weak

Today we have an endless stream of options when it comes to choosing the foods we eat. But with all of these options we have forgotten the wisdom of the body. We rely on coffee to stimulate digestion, we eat foods out of convenience versus satiation. So many of us live with symptoms of weak digestive fire, AKA Agni that our symptoms have become normalized.

 

For example these days we can walk into a grocery store and find strawberries in the dead of winter. Our ancestors did not have the luxury of choice and variety that we possess. We eliminated problems around food shortages, but in turn we introduced a whole new set of problems which have left us with weak digestion. Let’s return to the strawberry example. Now these strawberries most definitely were not grown locally if you live in United States, nor are they in season. Eating them actually throw off the natural rhythm your body is in. But most diets will encourage you to eat Strawberries simply because it is a fruit.

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Strawberries in the winter may be beautiful but it is not a natural product of winter

You could be eating only fruits and veggies but if your digestive fire is not strong enough, you will not be absorbing the nutritional value of these foods. Ayurveda takes the phrase “You are what you eat” a step further and says, “You are what you digest”. So take a moment and run through this list of symptoms, if you have one or more than it is a fair assumption that you are dealing with weak digestion.

 

Ayurvedic Spring Cleanse in Missoula Montana


 

15 signs that your Agni is weak

  1. Weight Gain

  2. Bloating after meals

  3. Burping or Gas (nope it’s normal)

  4. Loose stools or constipation

  5. Acne

  6. Stinky breath

  7. Coated tongue

  8. Allergies

  9. Candida

  10. PMS

  11. Unexplained brain fog

  12. Parasites

  13. Dry cracking skin

  14. Nausea

  15. Acidity or Heartburn

 

The first step to change is realizing there is a issue at hand. Ayurvedic offers a simple approach to diet that promotes strong Agni / digestive fire. This science regards every individual as unique and works to sync up with mother nature. If you are interested in learning more about Ayurveda or would like to learn about your body type take Joyful Belly’s Dosha Quiz. If you are in Missoula I will be offering a Spring Cleanse two part class with Missoula Herbalist Justene Sweet.

How to Cycle with the Moon

The potential to create new life is an expression of generosity. When we look at a woman’s body we get a first hand glance at this miracle. Even without kids the female spirit is fertile. Our physical bodies are largely influenced by this characteristic specifically when each month our bodies shed an egg or seed of life. Because of this, I think it is time that we acknowledged this mystical aspect of ourselves. I have experienced phases of my life where hormonal imbalance rocked my world, and not in the “cool” way. I have been on birth control and experienced the dramatic side effects and I have also experienced the cohesiveness of a balanced cycle.

Many cultures associated females with the moons, for example we have the  ancient seers who believed that a woman’s fertility, power and nurturing spirit were all linked to the lunar cycle, the Germans called menstrual blood “die Mond”, the moon. And the French called it “le moment de la lune”, the movement of the moon.  So, how can we use this ancient wisdom and sync with moon?

In the current era of life so many of us have lost touch with the rhythms of nature. Infused with technology, birth control, and other hormone disruptors many of us have symptoms that leave us feeling isolated, out of touch, and depressed. Times are changing and we are realizing the need to connect with nature, to resurface the traditions of our ancestors. Life works in a cyclic way and I would imagine that the peak of technology will be followed by the desire for venerable wisdom, retracing our roots and paying homage to the ancient ways.

Ayurveda teaches that women should aim to cycle on the new moon, or the dark nights of the month (no moon). By simply restoring the natural cycle of our periods to the moon we can find possible relief from unbalanced hormonal levels and other menstrual diseases such as endometreosis, PCOS, painful cramps, etc. There are plenty of ways to restore this connection to the moon and I have listed a few suggestions below.

Now, I know that we live in a  seemingly different world than our ancestors and it is not always realistic to take the week off during your moon cycle. However,  I have come to love my slower paced schedule that I gift myself during my moon. And there are many ways we can optimize on the cycles of our hormones. An app that I love, is called Myflo not only does it track your cycle but also gives food + exercise recommendations and provides an overview of what is going on with your hormones. It’s empowering to know what is going on with your body, allowing you the tools to cultivate balance from within.  It’s so unfortunate the shame that surrounds this topic. I know for years I hated the days I would bleed; I remember the shame I felt when I got my first period. Trying so hard to conceal what my body was experiencing. Nevertheless, healing is happening and it starts within each of us.

So How can you sync with the moon? Here are some suggestions to strengthen the Shakti prana and get in tune with la Lune:

 

Tips On How to sync with Moon:

  1. Pull out your phone and mark the dates for the new moons and full moons, set reminders a few days before to prepare.

  2. The week of the New Moon clear your schedule as much as possible. Allow your body and mind to rest and restore. This is the week we aim to bleed. Introspective activities are ideal (writing, journaling etc).

  3. The week of the Full Moon allow yourself to connect to your Queen. I love to pamper myself; pedicures, delicious meals, connecting with others.

  4. On the Full Moon take time to bask in her beauty. You can do this with your daughters, sisters, friends or perhaps you meditate under the moon.

  5. Explore the legacy of our mothers. Take a moment to realize the sacrifices your mother made, not only her physical body, but her life of raising you. Honoring and healing this relationship strengthens our Shakti prana and lunar attunement. If your relationship with your mother is toxic, perhaps pull to mind a mother figure or the symbolism behind the female nature. The animal kingdom and all living things are connected by female reproductivity.

 

I will end from a quote of a divine book called The Path of Practice. by Bri Maya Tiwari writes, “As their menstrual blood began to flow, they set themselves apart from the men and children to observe the sadhana of rest and replenishment. The new moon was a time when women temporarily shed the burden of their responsibilities to focus on self-renewal and self nurturing in a spirit of sisterhood and community.”

 

Let us nurture the sisterhood and community we live in.

 

*If you are in Missoula, I offer Moon classes that will offer a sacred time for lunar practices. You can find my schedule here. If you are looking for additional guidance please do reach out.

Exploration of Dharma

Have you ever had this feeling, for me it sits in my belly, and it emits this sensation like something is not right. I have relentlessly tired to distract myself, relieve it with all the best lotions, essential oils, vacations, etc. But nothing works. And then you are confronted with the fact that you have been ignoring the call of your soul. She calls softly, asking you to participate. She isn’t interested in a hidden agenda or pleasures, she only wants participation. Participation in what you ask? Well that depends on your story and the essence of you. For me, it seems like working with younger girls is part of my dharma and actually just connecting with people in general. When I participate in these activities I wake up, and realize that previous feeling is gone. Instead a feeling of contentment fuels my body, give me purpose. I see this goal I am working towards, or maybe more so I understand my commitment to life. To what I am offering. It is worth the work, worth the uncomfortable times, because the results are irreplaceable. This work gives purpose to my days. Allows me to keep going when life’s hardships weigh at my heart.

Like a farmer who carries on with his duties even in the freezing rain. He understands his commitment to the animals and land. He knows that there is suffering involved. But it’s worth it. One of my favorite bloggers Mark Manson speaks of Dharma, though he never uses the word in his article The Most Important Question Of Your Life. He writes, “A more interesting question, a question that perhaps you’ve never considered before, is what pain do you want in your life? What are you willing to struggle for? Because that seems to be a greater determinant of how our lives turn out. That answer will actually get you somewhere. It’s the question that can change your life. It’s what makes me me and you you. It’s what defines us and separates us and ultimately brings us together..” This question encouraged him to find work where the struggle was calculated into the equation and deemed a worthy. That is the modern man speaking of Dharma. As someone in my mid twenties, the search for my purpose has ruled my past couple of years. A mixture of exploration, disappointment, opening, and closing. And so I continue on this journey. Calling on the universal truth, cultivating the seeds that bring light into my days. 

 

How to Nourish Commitment

When I was walking in the woods, I witnessed pinecones sprouting all across the trails. I accidentally kicked one and wondered if I had changed the fate of that prospective tree. I would walk so delicately on the trails trying not disturb the possibility of a tree beginning to grow. This image filled my mind as I contemplated the trees and life path of the pine cones. I saw that the pine cones were just potential waiting to be, but in order to grow they had to commit to a spot and then wait. Some would never be anything more than a pine cone, but others would continue to uphold the legacy of becoming magnificent trees.

I started thinking about myself as a little pine cone,  surely sprouting, but not quite secure in my landing ground. Always inspired by new ideas, travel plans, etc, I realized at this rate, I would be a while until my roots had a chance to grow.

As we find ourselves in the start of a new year it seemed like a relevant time to bring up the topic of commitment. Not to mention, we find ourselves in the season of Capricorn which embodies this type of devotion to something; think of the mountain goat who perseveres the steepest mountains and continues to climb. For me personally, committed is not an adjective I would use to describe myself. Creative, daring, adventurous, sure but there seemed to be a serious lack of commitment towards all areas of my life. It seemed much more “hip” to be go with the flow, be ready to leave at the drop of a hat, and not become too attached to anything in particular.

While I was working on a writing project recently I had to write about my biggest dream for life with no restriction. I must have drafted at least three full essays and trashed each one. I struggled to be authentic in my dreams, to voice the passions that inspire me, but more than anything I was scared to write down what I actually wanted because it meant there was a serious chance of failure. It felt like writing it down meant I had to commit to this. For me that was scary, wouldn’t you agree?

Now here is my beef with New Year’s Resolutions; so much of the time they are created because we don’t feel whole, or they illuminate the things we hate about ourselves or things we believe we lack in our life. Which then can perpetuate the cycle of self loathing, speaking from personal experience. And on the same note, yes, there are usually things we can do to make our lives a bit lighter, like eating healthy, exercising, etc. I think the key difference is the intention.

I want to lose weight because I want my body to be smoking hot and booty bigger than Nikki Manaj. OR I want to change my diet so that I feel balanced in my body, sleep better, and feel better in my skin. Pretty different intentions there eh?

So, back to the blank slate of 2018. What do you want to commit yourself to? Maybe you are already on the track to your Dharma, if not taking some time to figure out what that is would be extremely valuable. I have found it is much easy to recover from hardships when I remember my dharma or purpose. I have a reason to continue. Just like understanding your dog's breed can help you understand their nature. A golden retriever loves to retrieve and fetch, knowing this you can help facilitate this activity for your dog, helping your furry friend to feel fulfilled.. We are the same in that respect, except unfortunately there is no human breed guide we can read to learn what fulfills us.

So start here:

  1. What inspires you? Makes you feel lighter and increases your happiness?

  2. Identify your Dharma

  3. Make a list of activities that help cultivate those qualities in your life.

  4. Make a list of activities that keep you from this goal

 

Once you have spent some time contemplating this, the next step is to commit. To make a precious vow to yourself. I read some advice from a friend / teacher of mine, urging us to commit to one thing. Be precise about it, and then for the next thirty days commit entirely. After 30 days you can evaluate if this is something you want to continue. But for 30 days, no excuses, just show up. To read more on this New Years challenge you can find his instructions here.

I have started to host monthly lunar classes which is interesting because the moon works in a similar 30 day cycle. To plant an intention, check back with it, and then move forward. It is the natural rhythm of nature. A beautiful harmony to be in tune with. So with that I will leave you to create and commit.

 

Much love,

 

Sam

Transformation

When I look back on my life there is never this clear “aha” moment where I discovered the elixir or the truth. More of a progression of this “clear sightedness”. When I take into consideration the qualities of Pluto it seems only suitable to share a story that embodies those qualities… forceful, intense, transformative. This transformation is so uncomfortable for several reasons, but it yields such a beautiful result. Just as bread becomes edible after a sit in the oven. We too can break our layers down with the heat of change. 

My center stage would be only a year ago during Scorpio season in 2016. I had just been let go from my job. Suddenly I became crowded with vulnerabilities, shame, self-doubt. These parts of myself that had been rejected suddenly came into light. Worries stacked around me, taking up a lot of space. A defeat. You see I had been so unhappy in the job, but I stuck around because of the pay. I was making 3x what I would make normally in Missoula. So I ignored the voice within me that urged me to leave. That is until the other party also decided it wasn’t working out. 

After I had been let go I had to work multiple jobs, I would nanny in the morning, and then go food run / serve at the Top Hat. I was enrolled in my yoga training so my bills were more high than average. I just thought to myself, be open and a servant to the world. Things will fall into place. And 96% of the time I was uncomfortable. I was so tired. It challenged my ego in so many ways. And I wondered how long I would endure the grind until I found full time work. But it was in that door closing that I expanded into my soul. I was tested in my faith and ushered to follow my spiritual path. 

My employment ended up sorting itself out magically but the transformation I want to note blossomed from within. It took courage and resilience for me to get up and do what was needed. I wanted to hide, but I didn’t.  

I have come to have love for myself and the strength I know I possess. So many times I under estimate this. I think "this will break me". And yea, maybe it did break parts of me but never to a point of unrepairable. My scars are what mold my story. They allow me to see a larger picture at play.