What I'm Writing About
© Copyright 2011-2014
All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Bobbi Jean Ewing.
reflections and insight into my healing, transformation, and journey of the heart
I am back from south of the equator where I spent nearly 2 weeks in Peru. I dined on the delicious cuisine of Cusco, I gazed upon the amazing Andes, I visited famous Inca sites such as Saqsaywaman, Pisac, and of course the magnificent and bejeweled Machu Picchu.
I spent Thursday, July 24 grounding at our retreat center in Peru after 2 long days scaling the ancient rocks of Machu Picchu. As I journaled in the heart <3 chakra garden, I noticed the wind. At some point during the day I learned that our shaman, who was to lead our cleansing, awakening, and re-birth ceremony the next day, had been traveling in Ecuador and hadn’t been in contact for some time. We were assured by the retreat center owner that he was on his way. His name, Wayra, means wind. The WIND was telling us that he was indeed on his way.
On Friday, July 25 it rained – a cleansing for Pachamama, mother earth. Wayra arrived late afternoon before our ceremony began at 8 pm. Eight brave souls, myself included, participated in the sacred shamanic ceremony. We each drank the plant medicine “potion” prepared by Wayra. For the next five hours, Wayra whistled and sang medicine songs, rattled, played harmonica, smoked big, fat rolled up tobacco leaves, blowing smoke around himself and others, continually cleansing and clearing the energies in the room. Wayra tended to each of us, physically or energetically, chanting “cleansing, cleansing” and “healing, healing.”
At the end of the ceremony Wayra cleared and closed each of us – he sucked the energy out of my crown portal and spat into a refuse bin, he blew tobacco smoke all around me, including down the front and back of my shirt, he spat a spray of flower water in my face, he cleansed the energy in my hands, he whispered blessings and protections. I remember looking into his face after he pulled me out of my experience. I was startled and felt a little contraction of fear. He looked different than the forty something man who led us into the ceremony. In his face, I saw many shadows and folds – I saw the face of an ancient, timeless shaman; I saw the face of a medicine man.
The next day, Saturday, July 26, I reflected back on a poem I wrote about the wind last Thanksgiving day weekend after I spent several days walking in the wind and meditating on its qualities. I revisited my poem and was particularly struck by these passages, which almost perfectly describes Wayra’s presence during our ceremony:
The wind is nowhere and everywhere.
The wind is a mover and a shaker.
The wind blows in and blows out.
The wind moves the rain in and dries the rain out.
The wind draws tears from my eyes.
See it. Hear it. Feel it.
I let the wind wash over me and around me.
I let it hold me.
I let it refresh me.
What a most curious synchronicity, an accidental premonition. Without knowing it, I was inviting Wayra into my life to assist me in clearing out old, stagnant energies, which is exactly what I experienced during our ceremony. I purged something. I don’t know what. All I know is it’s gone, that I felt and feel spacious inside my chest cavity, my heart <3 center.
Meanwhile, back in Seattle, another wind was blowing through my life. My new friend Rosh, a connection I made at the start of 2014 while on retreat in Maui, was in town for a Seattle Blind Cafe and staying at my house. This was a first for me. I’ve *never* let someone stay as a guest at my house when I’ve been out of town. Here I was, down in Peru, on the opposite side of the equator, letting some man I’ve really only spent a week, a blind cafe, sporadic email exchanges, and a few phone calls getting to know inhabit my house and have total access to all my belongings.
But…I trust Rosh completely and I didn’t have an ounce of anxiety after I said yes to him “moving into” my house. I was completely ok with his windy/vata energy (code for scattered, a wee bit messy, and kinda accident prone) “living in” my house. Being the more grounded/kapha-ish sort (code for organized and tidy), I noticed and felt the effects of his windy energy when I returned home. I was ok with it and in fact, I found it refreshing to have Rosh’s energy stir and move things around in my house, both literally and figuratively. What good practice for me to be ok with someone being in my sacred space, to welcome someone so fully into my life, and most importantly to TRUST.
At the same time (literally) I was entrusting Rosh with my house, I was also cultivating a trust with Wayra and the plant medicine, learning to trust the plant’s intelligence and wisdom. Out of that trust, I received a most precious lesson and gift from the wind.
Let the wind blow through me. Let the wind clear out stagnant energy. Like the rain, the wind is cleansing and the strongest of winds can be both transformative and healing.
Let … the… wind … in … (and TRUST) !
Five years ago – June 27, 2009 – was my wedding day.
For four of the past five years I’ve taken myself some place for this anniversary – Italy, Bali, France, and Spain. Those first years it was especially important for me to get away, to take care of myself around this date. I’ve created a lot of new meaning and transformed what June 27 represents in my life. Instead of representing the beginning of the end, the explosion of my 10 year relationship just weeks after our wedding day, this date has become a celebration, an anniversary of my journey of discovery, transformation, and awakening.
That first anniversary was the biggest and the beginning of me reclaiming and transforming what June 27 means in my life. I remember saying to myself and writing in my journal something along the lines of, “my wedding day was the biggest day of my life, but this day is bigger; this day is the beginning of my NEW life.”
June 27, 2010 was the very first day of my first ever yoga retreat. That day, in the hills of Umbria in Italy, I did the biggest yoga poses of my life – vrksasana (handstand), pincha mayurasana (peacock), and urdhva dhanurasana (wheel) – with help, of course. Reflecting back I find it very curious that the retreat leader chose me to demo supported wheel pose. I’m pretty sure every single retreat participant supported me in getting up into the pose. Wheel was the pose that did it, the pose that cracked my heart open.
At lunch after our morning yoga I started to feel shaky, started to feel my emotions rising to the surface. I found a safe, secluded, and sheltered spot under some oak trees. I lay down in the middle of a country lane and sobbed uncontrollably for hours – what a most glorious sob-fest. I remember having a sense that the branches of the trees overhead were embracing me. I remember visualizing my closest friends, and all those that supported me through my personal tragedy, in a circle around me.
Before I left my refuge under the canopy of oak trees, I went to each of the trees and thanked each one for holding me, for creating this space for me. I stopped at the last tree, was about to thank it, but noticed it was being choked by ivy, its branches broken. I realized this tree was not part of the “circle” of trees that had supported and held me; its branches were separate from the other trees. In this tree, I saw him – broken and diseased. Tears came to my eyes. I paused and then pulled myself away from that tree. I walked away. I let go. I headed down the lane back to the villa, but I knew I was setting out on my own path, my journey into my new life.
This year, four years from that day in Italy and five years from my wedding date, was the first year I was home for this anniversary. Five years. Half a decade, I knew I wanted to do something BIG, something sacred to honor myself and this anniversary. Four weeks before my anniversary, I realized June 27 would be a new moon and in that instant a WILD idea lit up in my mind: run WILD and naked in the woods. In the span of one afternoon, I created a vision for a sacred ceremony and WILD adventure.
Last Friday, June 27, 2014, nine of us, myself and 8 other spirited souls, shared a wild. exhilarating. enlivening. expansive. liberating. night together. I have never laughed and screamed (in shock and glee) so hard in my life. Felt so good. What a release!!!
The night was magical. Smudging. Calling in energies. Circle. blue Knots. Screeching owls (pretty much on que). Fire. Sharing / Being witnessed. Poetry. Personal Vows. Dancing. Playful exhibition. Screaming. Running naked in the dark. Running naked in the rain. Howls. Cackles. Laughter. Reflection. Rain sizzling. Rain steaming. on our warm, bright fire. Blessings. Singing. Love. JOY.
I vow to realize my full potential.
I vow to realize my life’s purpose, to do what I am meant to do on this earth and in this life.
Though we gathered to honor my anniversary, the experience was shared and touched and moved each person present in different ways. One woman shared, “I haven’t had this much fun in a very long time.” Another woman said something to the effect of, “I feel like a part of me came back to life.” Yet another woman said, “It was very healing and really powerful to see you ASK to be witnessed. It was exhilarating to be naked in the rain and to run into the dark.” Another expressed that she was humbled to be in company with others who were meeting their edge and stepping outside their comfort zones.
I slept soundly that night. I felt at peace, contented. I received a highly symbolic message in my dreams. One of my teacher’s and model of ritual and sacred ceremony, Cosetta Romani, wrote a note for me that said:
Beyond my own self-expansion, my experience of creating and officiating a sacred ceremony to honor myself and my anniversary has revealed my unique gifts and birthed a new dream: a dream to be a CELEBRANT, to create sacred rituals and ceremonies to remember, honor, and celebrate life.
washed by rain, both fierce and gentle
warmed by light, both harsh and tender
become the furrows
where seeds long buried burst their hardened hulls at last
And fall gently into the fertile earth, made rich by cruel disaster.
Dreams long stifled dare to send forth tender shoots
(from a poem written for me for my anniversary by my good friend, Kristen)
A seed has burst through its hull!!!
My new dream was officially born on July 1, 2014, my deceased brother’s 44th birthday. My brother died of brain cancer at the age of 27.
Grazie Mille, Cosetta, for the inspiration. Thank you, Robert, for planting Cosmic seeds. Thank you, Kristen, for the beautiful poem, for truly understanding the depths of my pain and wounding. Thank you, naked Rosh, for inspiring me to grow and stretch, to love and be love. <3 you!
Thank you most of all to the 8 spirited souls who trusted me, showed up with open hearts, and filled the forest with laughter and de LIGHT! What a hoot!
Every morning during my Hana Maui yoga retreat (and sometimes afternoon too), we took a baptismal swim in the Venus Pools, known to be re-birthing pools. I don’t know how the pools came to be known in this way, but I can offer a few guesses based on my own experience.
For me, it was absolutely amazing to jump in and sink into the depths of the pool, totally submerged, to be virtually absent of thought in those moments and seconds of sinking and then rising back to the surface, body and breath suspended in space and time. I remember my first jump, perhaps most memorable of all my jumps.
Because I was scared, I chose to make the little jump off the bottom rock (keep in mind I had to clear a rock I could see below the surface). The jump, though little, was so very big, so incredibly exhilarating and revitalizing. I felt so alive. I squealed and hollered in glee, in ecstasy, after I broke the surface.
My “official” Venus Pools rebirth, the big contraction that gave way to my expansion, occurred during my emergence from the pool as I slithered and wriggled around, first on my belly and then on my back, head below feet, through what I affectionately call the “birth canal.” I laughed hysterically my first time through the “canal,” feeling so awkward and so challenged to get up and out of the pool. I wouldn’t have it any other way. To make passage through a canal in our adult bodies, to feel the awkwardness, the challenge, the effort it takes to be “born,” to emerge in this life as the fullest and most awake version of ourselves, is so very impacting and transformative, a real rebirth experience.
Reflecting back on my metaphysical rebirth in Maui is helping me to illuminate another rebirth I recently made passage through. I am sitting on the other side of contraction, resting in a place of spacious expansion. Finally. For many long and rather painful weeks I experienced all sorts of difficult contractions and felt the angst of an inner tension and turmoil. The big contraction, the mother of all contractions, has released and I notice that I can breathe easier, that my inner chatter has quieted considerably, that I feel more present in my body and my senses. I am so grateful for the internal shift. I told myself so many times during my contractions that “contraction gives way to expansion,” a concept of the Tantric yoga philosophy I study. Now I can speak to this truth.
We experience the pulse of contraction and expansion repeatedly throughout our lives. Every breath, every moment, every life experience, every life lesson is the pulse of contraction and expansion, an opportunity for rebirth, to give birth to ourselves. Our birthing of ourselves is our awakening into the fullest, most expansive, most vibrant expression of our Self, of our true nature, our essence.
Let’s consider the breath. Every breath is a kind of birth and death, a Samsara, so to speak – the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. Some folks connect with a sense of their own mortality in that moment when the breath is suspended in space and time, in the pause between the exhalation and the inhalation. I see it from an opposite perspective. When we inhale our diaphragm contracts; it draws down and creates a vacuum effect that pulls oxygen into our lungs. When we exhale our diaphragm lets go and releases. This letting go, the release of the contraction, is the moment we give birth to ourselves, the moment we expand.
This is what I experienced in my own life. I let go. I was experiencing a multitude of contractions, many that were induced by my wounding. The biggest contraction was an attached, clingy, graspy energy living in me – my attachment to a desire, a longing for something. My protective mother, the Universe, intervened. First she said (in the form of a cosmic message), “this does not align with you.” And then, as if to reinforce the first message, she was like, “no, this is not happening.” And with that decisiveness, my clingy energy released and I started to notice a shift inside.
I started to come back online. I felt a remembrance of self. I reconnected with my journey – where I’ve been, what I’ve been through, where I am now, where I’m going on my path of unfurling. I began, once again, to touch in to my inner light. I felt reconnected to my power. I felt an inner freedom and peace. I felt expansive. In that space of letting go, my essence began to re-emerge. This re-emergence of self was a rebirth, essentially, a moment of giving birth to my Self.
Circling back to the Venus Pools, I offer one last insight. Taking the jump is also a letting go – letting go of fear, letting go of control. Sinking into the water, breath suspended in space and time, is a moment of touching into our death. When we rise back to the surface, we are reborn through our breath, a breath that reconnects us to life. On the other side of letting go is expansion and freedom and bliss.
Speaking of births, today, April 16, is the birthday of my beautiful friend Jessica. I honor you for your willingness to dive into the depths of your self and I so cherish our friendship! LOVE to you today and every day!! <3 :-)
The calendar tells us that today is a day for love, a day to celebrate love, specifically romantic love. Instead of celebrating romantic love, I am choosing to celebrate self love because I truly believe that loving others starts with loving ourselves. The more love we give to ourselves, the more love we have to give to others and the more we love from a place of abundance.
I have been conceptualizing self love through symbols. Last weekend I was immersed in a yoga teacher training weekend. We were discussing The Yogic Life and one of my teachers, Bianca, drew this diagram for the group to illustrate this concept.
I was feeling a wee bit troubled that that top triangle was so small in relation to the whole, that in this diagram, the life affirming practices one does to cultivate a positive relationship with oneself was small in comparison. Sure, our relationship with ourselves is foundational and informs how our lives unfold, but if we wish to grow positive feelings toward ourselves, I think many would agree that we certainly improve how we feel about ourselves and have a better relationship with ourselves when we increase our life affirming practices.
What do life affirming practices look like? Yoga. Meditation. Mindfulness. Time in Nature. Sacred Ritual. Connection and Communion with others who share our values/passions/beliefs. Therapy (mental health, physical, massage). A slow, leisurely walk. Gazing at the Stars. Enjoying a cup of tea. Lighting a candle. Playing with kids. Volunteering. Gardening. Cooking. Sharing a meal with loved ones. Singing. Dancing. Retreat. . .
I was turning Bianca’s diagram around in my mind and re-conceptualizing it when this wave of geometrical inspiration/insight flowed through me.
I continued to play from this place of balance. What I discovered in shifting and re-framing the diagram was a symbol for sattvic love.
Sattva, the “highest” of the three gunas (strands of existence, primordial energy), is one of my favorite Sanskrit words and its meanings include tranquility, peace, and happiness. Energetically, sattva is luminous light. Here I have to pause and marvel at my own “genius” / intuitive wisdom. Luminous light and love…this is *exactly* what I wrote about in “Maui Magic = LOVE.” In my symbol, I saw an energetic play of sattva; I saw balance, harmony, love.
My contemplation of symbols representing love continued throughout the weekend. I began to think about love through the symbol for infinity. What I saw taking shape is something I call the rebound of love, the idea that the energy we send out travels back to us.
I believe our inner dynamic shapes the outer dynamics of our lives. Do we treat ourselves with kindness and compassion? If we have difficulty offering ourselves kindness and compassion, how can we offer this to others genuinely and from a place of authenticity? If we are impatient and irritable with ourselves, those we interact with are likely to be met with impatience and irritability. The laws of attraction illuminate that “like attracts like.” If we are angry and irritable inside and out, we are likely to attract angry and irritable people into ourselves. However, if we are kind, loving, giving, and caring toward ourselves (and others), we are more likely to attract kind, loving, giving, and caring people into our lives. This is one way we experience an energetic rebound, by attracting someone into our life that mirrors our inner and outer being.
Another way we experience an energetic rebound is to use the loving energy we have cultivated within to shift an interpersonal dynamic without. I have seen this play out in several relationships in my life. Over time I have cultivated love and warmth in relationships that were previously difficult and because of this difficulty I suffered. In places where I might have acted impatiently, I slowed down inside and breathed space into the moment and moved from a place of patience and equanimity. I began to bring lightness and humor into our interactions. I began to sprinkle expressions of care and affection, even if these expressions were as simple as “hey, I like your orange shirt.” I began to infuse more love into these relationships in various forms, shades, and colors. I showed up and continue to show up differently in relationships – from a place of loving presence. I have begun to feel the changes. More love and warmth and care is flowing back to me which affirms for me that we have the power to shape our lives and our relationships by first loving ourselves.
This 14th day of February, I invite you give yourself some love, to do something for yourself that is life affirming, to continue loving yourself throughout the year, and allow the love to flow / bounce back to you.