Consistency… Are We Doing it Wrong?

Consistency… Are We Doing it Wrong?

Spring has sprung in the Northern Hemisphere. Where I live the rain has been soaking the streets and parks occasionally, and the sun has been blazing increasingly longer into the the evening. We’re at that point in the year where anyone who is paying attention has that moment of realization: “wow, it’s still light out”. And, significantly for Beltane and May Day, the dew is accumulating heavily in the mornings. Have you noticed?

This is a time when it becomes easier to be productive, easier to feel inspired, and many of us start to feel a resolve to make some good healthy changes. We probably last felt that way around January 1 when everyone was talking about New Year’s resolutions! And for anyone feeling unproductive and uninspired, this time of year seems to make that just a little more painful and laden with judgments. I usually get a dose of both of these at this time of year! Whether you’re inspired or uninspired right now, you’re no stranger to seeking balance. A consistent workout, a consistent routine, a consistent practice. Why is it that we seem to always be striving for this instead of relaxing into it? Why is it so hard to be consistent?

One of the big reasons it is so difficult for us to stay consistent is that our expectations are misaligned. We are all taught “consistency” in terms of linear, day-to-day “identical” habits instead of seeing our practice, and our world, as the naturally spiraling phenomena that they are. We live in an undulating, spiraling reality, and this is often responsible for the failure of any rigidly linear practice. Because it just isn’t natural. So what do I mean by this, exactly?

Nature, Spirit, and our existence here on mama Gaia is all about cycles. But not just an identical loop like a circle… it is better described as a spiral. Let’s unpack this a bit. The days cycle from dark to light to dark, each the same but yet so different. The moon cycles from dark to full to dark again in that same spiral pattern. Same moon phase, different month. And the seasons move in exactly the same pattern, coming back around again and again, same but different. Even your breath, and your next breath, follows this spiral law of Nature. Here you are at your fullest inhale again, yet it’s a new moment.

So we can look to Nature’s calendar, often referred to as the Wheel of the Year, for guidance about how to be consistent in a sustainable way. For example, rest has somehow become a ‘four-letter-word’ in this linear, industrialized culture, but it is natural to rest more in the fall and winter, just as we do (or should do) in the evening and night. We are biological beings that resonate with the natural world around us in this way, and trying to deny or ‘overcome’ it is making us sick. When we start to understand Nature’s calendar and the spiral nature of existence, it becomes easier to understand our own rhythms, fluctuations, and needs. This broadens our perspective, allowing us to see our own consistent practice as a maple tree instead of a concrete pillar. The maple tree is always growing and adapting, yet it is cycling repeatedly through stages of glory, and glorious rest.

I help my clients build what they are building (whether it’s self-care practices, relationships, creating a business, or overcoming anxiety) in this sustainably consistent way. We work with the Wheel of the Year paradigm to build a practice that has the resilience to ebb and flow with their own energetic seasons. You can do this too by learning your own high and low energy cycles and listening to the wisdom of Nature… there is so much guidance available to anyone willing to re-learn how to listen, the way our ancestors did.

A good place to start is with the moon and the maple tree.

If you are ready to get sustainably consistent, consider working with me in the Live Your Practice program. Nine new spots are now open and the super low introductory rate is still available. Learn more here: Live Your Practice

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Image: The Handbook of Practical Magic. Physis Wellness

Celebrating the Balance of Light and Dark at Ostara

Celebrating the Balance of Light and Dark at Ostara

The not-so-old parable reads like this:

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

What is Shadow Work, and How Does it Work?

 I’ve given up the over-priced conferences sponsored by some corrupt corporation and I’m no longer willing to sit through a lecture to learn the latest individualistic theory of change from Western psychology. For me, all of that is more often replaced by meditation, ritual, forests, and medicine circles full of drums and smoke and rattles.

And deep explorations into things like the nature of consciousness, our connection to the invisible field of energy all around us, the influence of our ancestors, and my own shadow work. My shadow work has become increasingly important as I start to witness the difference this work makes in my life, and I want to share a little about this with you at Ostara… this time of balance between the day and the night.

Our shadow is that part of us that we believe to be bad or wrong. In large part it is the aspect that we can hardly even see, or can’t stand to look at. It unintentionally hurts someone’s feelings; it judges and tells us we’re better or different than the other guy; it slips in a little comment to make us look good and the other look bad. Sometimes it bursts out of us in an unforeseen rage when we are already a little too tired, a little too stressed, and stretched a little too thin.

It’s the wolf we’re told not to feed in the parable. (Which, by the way, is inaccurately attributed to ‘the Cherokee’ but was actually written by evangelical minister Billy Graham from within his dualistic worldview.)

One of the most important shifts for me has been finally realizing that shadow work is not about getting rid of the shadow stuff! I mean, it can be if you insist on making it about that, but then you’ll get exactly nowhere with it because the simple truth is that shadow is here to stay. None of us are exempt. Not even the ‘love and light at all costs’ coaches and “gurus”. It isn’t a fight, and there is no “winner”. We need the night to balance the day, and many of us need a nasty cold or flu before we appreciate our day-to-day health. This balance of light and dark is embedded in every aspect of life.

And here’s the other thing. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather give that wolf some scraps and keep tabs on her, than try to go about my business with her lurking unseen and ravenous just outside my circle of firelight.

The difference is that when we accept our Shadow as a part of us, we feel more whole and we become more “shame-proof”.

By dropping the belief that I’m working on ridding myself of it, I no longer set myself up for deep disappointment when it shows up again. Instead, I think “yep, there it is, as expected” and I can respond without the weight of failure.

For me, getting to know my shadow has helped alert me to the areas where I need to proceed with more caution and practice being more humble. It has also helped to normalize experiences such as anger, so that I now express it rather than trying to stuff it back down and deny that it’s there (hello resentment and chronic illness). Finally, doing my own shadow work and accepting that the bad wolf is there means I am now so much less ashamed when I screw up. This has been huge for me. When I make an awful, hurtful, ignorant mistake (and I do) I can now beg forgiveness and earnestly learn from it without shriveling up inside at my terribleness or distracting and numbing to avoid the pain. And funny enough, this in turn means that I’m making fewer blunders in the first place. Whew.

Ostara, our Spring Equinox, is a wonderful time to acknowledge and honor this balance of light and dark, as the days are perfectly balanced with the nights. Ostara is the gateway from winter to summer: another harmonious and necessary balance of opposites. Take a moment this week to note where on your horizon the sun rises and sets… it will greet you in this same place at the autumn Equinox: Mabon. And the next time you rub up against a part of yourself that you can hardly stand to look at, take a moment to sit still in the discomfort of that. Breathe into it. Not to make it go away, but to give it a scrap and simply acknowledge that it’s there. Allow for pain. Then ask how you can best right the wrong; be curious about what you need to learn.

This is your shadow work. And it is so worth it.

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