Lessons from the Banyan Tree

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Secure roots go deep
A strength and resilience passed on from ancestors.
Roots connected to tough skin and long branches – extending, reaching.
Stretching up for dreams.
Spreading out – holding knowledge, creativity.
Turning back to the earth – becoming roots.
Securely grounded – solid, calm, quiet.
Nourishment from the upper, lower and middle worlds – sun, air, water, soil.
Its energy emanates – do you feel it?
I bow to you wise tree.
I am humble to your greatness.
Tell me your stories. Show me your visions.  Let me breath in your wisdom.
I’ll receive it with eyes glistening.
I hold you sacred.
I feel your strength as I gently touch your bark.

Kundalini Yoga - Sadhana (Morning Practice)

Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo
I bow to the lessons of the day – from the world around me.

Extreme weather, political chaos, hate, an anxious child, lower energy at work, a mending heart, a friend having surgery, death of a loved one, relationships changing, a future unknown.

Morning sadhana - my time - for my self.
Almond oil, the shock of cold water.
Warmth in my bark, wrapped in cotton fabric, leaves knotted on top of my crown.
Summer mugginess in the air, alone on my porch.
A navy blue sky with star patterns and a moon looking down.
My straight trunk sends roots down – bringing in nourishment, releasing what is no longer needed – diffused into the earth.
My branches are up and out, releasing sadness, pain, hurt, fear and loneliness.
Breath of fire, ego eradicator, the vulnerable bow pose – that leads me to tears some of the time (used to be all the time).
Arching, pressing, twisting, bending.
Then stillness – a letting go.

And then I chant – which it turns out, is a beckoning for my cat Nico.
Who has loved me through it all – and finds his place in the curve of my lap.  I scratch that spot, on the neck, he leans in, with a purr.

I find my voice – joining voices from my phone – voices that lift me up from the community.  They slowly teach me to project.  They slowly teach me to feel lovely.  And they slowly help me find my quiet power.

The sky lightens. The air feels lavender.  The peepers fade to quiet and the birds start their own mantra.  The natural world’s disciplined practice. Go within, emanate out.  Breath up - Chant up.

– Every morning resets my intention -- to flow with positivity.  And to rise up and be the banyan tree. 

A daily Kundalini yoga practice is called a Sadhana. Sadhana is before the sun comes up, before the energy of the day. It starts off with almond oil on the skin and a cold shower, followed by a Kriya. A Kriya is a specific sequence and timing of breathing, postures, meditation and mantra as taught by Yoga Bhajan. Learn more. Join me for Kundalini Yoga each week at Ananda Yoga in Hadley - Thursdays from 6:45 -- 8:00 p.m. Find peace in a chaotic world. Learn more about the class on the Ananda Yoga Website. You are welcome as you are. Bring your self.

Falling to Earth

Camping by Lady Tree and Secret Beach

Camping by Lady Tree and Secret Beach

Lady tree - elegant and wise. photo courtesy of emily snyder :)

Lady tree - elegant and wise. photo courtesy of emily snyder :)

My sister calls these my "have a story to tell" shoes -

My sister calls these my "have a story to tell" shoes -

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Jackie and me on solid sand - we never saw a candy house and no one tempted us with treats.

I keep it moving.  Get it done.   Onto the next thing.  In Kundalini yoga and meditation, I’m learning the power of stillness.  In stillness, the message finds us. The path is revealed.  It doesn’t feel natural to me.  I want to search for, run to and push through for the answers, for the path, for the next thing in my journey.  I’m impatient.  But lately, it isn’t working.  I push, I run, I take control of forward movement and I feel lost – I can’t find my way.  I give up. Sit down. Cry.  And when all my tears are cried out and there aren’t anymore.  I look up – tired and quiet.  I have to concede.  I have to relinquish control and let it be.  It’s counter intuitive to me – as a doer all my life – to wait, be still and let the next thing be revealed.  It feels lazy. It feels passive.  It feels unproductive.  

This summer, I camped out in my solo orange tent on an island in Maine, where my family has a cabin.  I love my tent.  I love creating quiet spaces for myself.  I chose the perfect spot and learned from others that it’s a favorite  spot of many – lady tree and secret beach.  Lady tree has intertwining branches and roots that twist like a serpent off of the earth and onto the sand.  She feels wise, solid and ancient.  She connects the magical forest to the sandy beach and water.  Some of her branches are dead and brittle but she is still very much alive and her roots hold her securely while she reaches up to the light.  She’s elegant – lady tree.  The site is protected and close to water sounds and views.

I woke up before my alarm sounded and decided to get up.  It was 3:30 am, my alarm sounds at 3:50 am for my 4:00 am daily sadhana – my kundalini yoga practice.  It was dark.  I changed into leggings, t-shirt and a hoody.  I slipped on my red “they have a story to tell” keen, rubber toe sneakers, zipped out of the tent, peed and turned on the light from my iPhone to get me about a mile away to a little cabin for my practice.   It’s cool in the mornings in August and often dewy on the earth – so the empty little cabin destination for yoga had been working well all week.  I headed towards a path that led through the woods, across a little bridge and to a field and up to the “Hilton” – the cabin.   

After about twenty paces, I realized that Jack, our toy poodle, was not by my side.  I called for him – nothing.  I retraced my steps all the way back to the tent and found him.  Why did I think Jack could navigate a trail in the darkness?  At first I tried to use my phone light to help both Jack and myself navigate but Jack was very slow, carefully picking his way.  I scooped him up in one arm and held the light with the other.  There was a narrow path to follow and off to the right, through trees was eventually rocky shore and ocean.  Further to the left was a larger path that a jeep could navigate. 

I lost the path very quickly.  Sometimes I would retrace my steps and try again but mostly I would just forge ahead, ignoring that I had lost the path.  I knew the general direction and had the ocean to my right and the destination straight ahead – how bad could it be?  I became entangled in sharp pine branches, moss, rocks and no path in site.  It got too thick and I was forced to back up and try again.  Sometimes I would see a buoy, like a cairn, to let me know I was on the trail but then I would lose it again.  I started sweating.  My glasses fogged up and my arm was tired from holding Jack.  I stepped over rocks, scooched under sharp branches and barreled forward with my unabashed motivation to reach my destination.  My frustration mounted “Are you Serious!” I put Jack down and cried a few tears of utter frustration.  I looked at the clock.  It was 4:30 am – I had been wandering for almost an hour.  Getting nowhere, going in circles.  I completely lost my sense of direction.  I decided to head to the rocks on the shoreline which I could follow around and lead to the bridge – I heard a lobster boat and headed towards the sound.   I made it to the big granite shore but it was too hard to navigate.  The rocks were cliff-like and with the tide as high as it was, couldn’t be passed.  It was very dark and I might hurt myself.  Sometimes I put myself in unsafe situations so I knew enough to retreat. So back into the trees I went – beep beep beep – back it up.  But I was stuck.  Where to go.  Tired, frustrated and sweating, I took off my foggy glasses and put them on the ground.  I put Jack down, took off my sweatshirt, sat on the mossy rock and cried again.  I felt like Hansel and Gretel, lost in the woods – like in a fairy tale.  I wasn’t scared.  I was frustrated. I wanted to get out – to find the path.  But I couldn’t. 

My routine strategy of sheer force did not work this time.  I gave up and decided to do my yoga right there – right where I was.  I put on my phone recording of the Magnetic Field and Heart Center Kriya.  I was on about day ten of a 40 day commitment – for nervous system repair and balance of the psycho-electromagnetic field.  I tuned in with the Adi Mantra, started with the Heart Center Opener with the breath of fire and went from there.  The set takes about 55 minutes.  After I finished the set, I always do the navel adjustment kriya – only four asana of one minute each – stretch pose to bow pose to wheel pose to fish pose.  Then I set myself up for chanting the seven mantras of the Aquarian sadhana for 62 minutes.  Rooted in the earth, spine straight, hands in gyan mudra, eyes closed – at peace.  In the middle of the mantra, my phone died.  I continued on my own, estimating the proper timing for each.  It was nice hearing my sole voice in the quiet woods – it helped me focus on the sounds with no musical accompaniment.  It felt good that the only voice was my voice.  I ended with the “Long time Sun” – inhale, exhale and done.  Calm.  The sky was lighter.  I could see the green moss, the brown trees, the branches, sky.  I stood up to get back on the path and started thinking about a cup of coffee - but where were my glasses?  I had taken them off – sweaty and then for yoga.  Where did I put them in the darkness?  I looked and felt the ground for the familiar plastic frames.  I was feeling the earth--  searching the ground with touch.  No luck.  I took off my sweaty t-shirt and put it on the ground, like Hansel and Gretel leaving bread crumbs – so I could come look for it later.  I put on my hoody over my nakedness, slipped into my “story to tell” red sneakers and started off again, with our fuzzy view metaphor still in place.    “My yoga studio” that morning turned out to be right by the path itself. I was where I intended to be.   I was literally where I was trying to be.  I just didn't know it. I headed to the main cabin to make coffee.  My sister already had the kettle on.  I told her what had happened.

Couldn’t find my way

Couldn’t see the path.

Pushed through the darkness.

Was tired and frustrated and going in circles.

Stopped.

Cried.

Dropped to the earth.

Slow down.  Wait.  Breathe.  The path will be revealed. 

I needed the literal experience to get it. 

Pine needles in my hair, dirt in my leggings and fuzzy view.  I spent my time rolling around,  stretching, chanting and singing --  grounded in Maine dirt., trees, moss and pine needles.  

For the rest of the week, I kayaked from the tent to the  field – more light on the water – still a little touch and go (!) but an adventure.  Never found my bread-crumb-of-a-t-shirt and never found my glasses.  I decided the spirit animals in the magic forest by lady tree are playing dress-up with them.  Maybe they were giggling at me –  watching me trying to find my way and finally, falling to earth.

 

 

Welcome to Rosehip26

When I bought my Amherst, MA fixer-upper and moved in 2015 – I was ending a chapter of my life and starting anew – turning a page.  I set out to create my notion of a healing home.  The gray house with the yellow door is small, simple, and calming with quiet spaces for relaxation, creativity and peace --  with my water-photographs, artifacts, reading nooks and natural light.  With porches, flowers and butterflies in the summer.   I work out of a home-office on health care environmental stewardship, and started renting rooms through Airbnb.  In 2017, I kicked off a side offering of Reiki and Integrative Body Work.  It took a few comments from Airbnb visitors to realize that my idea of a healing space felt calm and peaceful for them, as well and that visitors were curious about Reiki.  I like that idea.  A space for rest.  

I decided that all of these things combined wanted a name - a name that could hold what is now and what could be -- Rosehip26.   I've always liked the word Rosehip.  I love the smell of Rosehip flowers, the colors, the bees buzzing, the sound of the word, the shape and 26 is my address - a number that represents abundance.  Rosehip26.

Five years ago, I started practicing Reiki as a hospice volunteer at the Fisher Home and in 2014 became a Reiki master under Haleya Priest from Sanctuary Healing Arts.  Reiki supports relaxation, pain reduction, a sense of calm and can benefit anyone – regardless of age - including children and teens with sensitive spirits.   I continue to take other classes from Sanctuary Healing Arts, always wanting to learn more.   I'm currently in Kundalini Yoga Teacher training at an Ashram in Massachusetts, where I travel monthly.  I'm studying, writing, reading and practicing every day. 

Over Thanksgiving Holiday I was making pies from a dessert cookbook I made a few years ago – and I read the introduction that I wrote back in 2011. 

Pie is a simple offering in a complex world.

I’m a messy, imprecise cook and I like it that way.

The cake may be lopsided or the pie patched,

But its imperfection makes it real – not manufactured – hand made.

I was writing about pie – but upon reflection, I now realize I was also writing about myself and of people I admire and people I want to know.   I used to feel burdened by my imperfections – my mistakes -- my pain -- my shoulders sore, my brow worried.  I was weighted by stones in my pockets.  But over time, I’ve dropped those stones one by one.   They sit by streams, under a fern and on a window sill.   I still have one or two in my pocket and in my palm - for comfort.  To hold onto.

For anyone turning a page, consider a Reiki visit  to feel its benefits -- to complement your health routine. Follow us (my cats, stones, artifacts and me) on Instagram at Rosehip26 and help spread the word by liking Rosehip26 on Facebook.  Thank you for visiting my website.  Janet Howard