What I'm Writing About
© Copyright 2011-2016
All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Bobbi Jean Ewing.
reflections and insight into my healing, transformation, and journey of the heart <3
Today, December 21, is the Winter Solstice in the northern hemisphere. Today is also my dad’s birthday. Growing up I remember my dad referring to his birthday as the “shortest day of the year.” As a kid, I thought that meant there was less time in the day. I don’t know at what point growing up or even as a young adult that I realized that the Winter Solstice has the fewest daylight hours and minutes, that the sun rises later and sets earlier on this day than any other day of the year. And now I understand that the Winter Solstice is not only the shortest day, but also the longest night.
Late this last summer I had an “ah-hah” moment, a revelation, that I am light born OF and TO dark. My dad, who passed away almost 5 years ago this coming March, was a contracted soul – he was a very angry and abusive man. He lashed out with his hands and his words. I have a fire in me that gave me courage to stand up to my dad, to look the monster in the eye when he was full of rage, and when I did, I saw hate stewing in my dad’s eyes.
My dad was a very physically strong man most of his life. He was a championship wrestler in high school, college, and for the US Navy. He was both proud of the fact that he wrestled for a spot on the US Olympic team, beating his opponent twice, and sad that his loss the third time cost him a spot on the team. My dad used his strength and formidable presence to hurt people, especially with his angry words. My dad was a scary man and I learned years later, that the kids I played with growing up were afraid of my dad. Adults were afraid of my dad too.
The last 10 years or so of my dad’s life, his strength and his mind began to fade. He fought and resisted his decline, trying so hard to hold on, suffering through the nasty effects of muscular dystrophy. He died as a relatively young man at the age of 65. I feel and believe that in his passing, in his return to Source, that my dad has returned to the light and is no longer a contracted soul.
A universal teaching in many spiritual traditions says that we are made of light, that we are emanating light (measurable now through science, or so I’ve heard from my yoga teachers). I had a coca leaf reading in Peru this last summer and the wise and old Quechua healer who read my leaves said to me, “you are light.” I smiled hearing this, experiencing a moment of affirmation; I also smiled because I was hearing this familiar teaching in yet another tradition. I discovered this truth for myself, that I am light, one year ago during a light meditation when my spiritual and heart essence name, “Bright Joy,” came to me in a vision. Where my dad was dark and lived in darkness, I am light and chose to live in the light.
I live with intention and my intentions are to be conscious and awake in my words and my actions; to be self-aware – to see my thoughts, my feelings, my words, and my actions with clarity and discernment; to speak skillfully in ways that are non-harming to others, that instead invite connection and evoke warmth; to act and be in this world in ways that are gracious and pure of heart (not selfish or greedy or jealous or resentful); to experience the world and others from a spacious place (to not judge or evaluate or condemn); to be kind and compassionate toward others and myself; to grow, expand, and deepen my capacity to love others and myself; to be generous with my love, to give without selfish motivation or expectations.
This week I’ve been reading, “Celestially Auspicious Occasions,” by Donna Henes, for inspiration for a Winter Solstice ceremony I am leading this evening. She writes, “The Winter Solstice is an anniversary celebration of creation” and represents “The Great Uterine Darkness.” At the Winter Solstice the sun stands still in its retreat in a pregnant pause and from the darkness light is birthed forth.
This idea of the sun standing still in a pregnant pause, of light being birthed from The Great Uterine Darkness, got me thinking back to my revelation that I am light born OF and TO dark. I started to think about my birth date in relation to my dad’s birth date and I began to wonder about my conception date. I had a hunch that I was very likely conceived on my dad’s birth date, on the Winter Solstice. I checked out a few websites with birth date-conception date calculators and guess what??? I WAS CONCEIVED ON THE WINTER SOLSTICE (or within days of December 21, but definitely during the pregnant pause of the sun).
I am the spark of life and light that was created by my father’s darkness in the great uterine darkness of my mother’s womb. I was born in the early afternoon on September 10 when the sun was shining high in the sky and when the moon was still bright and full. I am light born OF and TO dark. I was given the name Bobbi Jean, named after my dad, Robert Eugene. Yet…I am BRIGHT JOY.
No, I’m not talking about a new year’s diet to shed any extra pounds I might have accumulated in 2012. No, what I’m talking about is shedding another kind of weight I carry in my body.
I spent my new year’s holiday at a week long yoga retreat in the jungle slopes of Mexico above the Pacific Ocean.
At the end of our morning yoga practice on New Year’s Eve day, our teacher invited us to devote part of the day reflecting on what we wanted to let go of from 2012. She encouraged us to do some journaling, which I did. In the space of the jungle canopy I didn’t come up with anything concrete.
At our afternoon practice, our teacher announced we’d have a New Year’s Eve bonfire on the beach. She told us to bring what we’d written, a statement or list of what we wanted to let go of. We would offer this to the fire as an expression, an intention, of letting go. I didn’t have anything written for the fire. *sigh* I hadn’t come up with anything concrete.
As I showered before dinner, I searched my mind. What could I offer to the fire to represent something I wanted to let go of? It struck me. Heaviness. I knew that I wanted to let go of the heaviness in my body. I wanted to let go of the emotions, the pain and the wounds that are held deep in body and hinder my ability to feel freedom. How would I express my heaviness? A rock. I decided I would put a rock into the fire.
As we gathered, my idea of putting a rock into the fire started to feel inadequate. After all the fire wasn’t going to burn my rock. The rock might get hot, but it would not combust and turn to ash. I decided to expand my symbolic offering. I turned to the slope above the beach and dug around in the undergrowth. I grabbed a leaf, a fallen branch, and some kind of nut or seed. As I grabbed these items, I knew what each would symbolize. I could see in my mind’s eye the story my offering would tell.
Listless (literally, without a list), it was my turn to put my items into the fire, to let the fire consume what I wanted to let go of from 2012. Kneeling before the fire, I made my offering, reciting silently.
To the fire I offer this leaf. This leaf represents shedding. To the fire I offer this rock. This rock represents the heaviness, the weight, the emotional wounds I carry in my body. May I shed this weight, may I be free from the hurt and pain of these wounds. To the fire I offer this branch, the roots of the sky. This branch, like the neural pathways of my mind, represents old ways of doing things, old ways of thinking. I offer this branch to symbolize that I am letting go of old ways of doing and thinking that no longer serve me. To the fire I offer this seed. This seed represents the possibility for new growth to emerge in 2013. May the fire burst this seed open and give it life. May this seed grow and blossom and thrive.
So that was it, my beautiful and symbolic offering, one that felt very authentic to me.
Now that I’m back in Seattle I’m beginning to get a sense of what the rock is made of, its matter, its substance. I think it hit me when a woman I work with told me she liked my earrings and I said, “Thanks. They’re from a friend who is no longer a friend.” There it was again, – the hurt that continues to come up in my dreams, continues to come up in conversations with my friends. The rock’s matter is my hurt over this broken friendship, a hurt I’ve had a really hard time letting go of, a deep wound I’ve been carrying around, not just in 2012, but for over two years.
A few weeks before the one year anniversary of the ka-boom, my closest friend of 15 years, the first person I turned to in shock and anguish over the explosion of my relationship, effectively ended our friendship. One day without any kind of fore-warning, she sent me an email and told me she was exhausted from the support she had extended to me. She told me she needed a breather, time to recalibrate. She told me that out of respect for her, not to contact her. I did contact her, just once. I said over voice mail, “for the sake of our friendship, I think we need to talk.” I expressed that I valued our friendship. We never talked. I have not heard from her since that last email nearly two and a half years ago.
The anger and the hurt have lessened, but I still carry the weight of this unresolved wound. Like I said, it still comes up in dreams, in conversations. I continue to wrestle with the lack of closure. There was never any conversation, no opportunity to express my hurt, my outrage at being abandoned when I was still fragile, when I still needed support from my friends.
The severing of ties was one sided. It felt as if the door had been shut in my face. I was left with the disturbing feeling that I’d been broken up with. My “friend’s” action to retreat, to remove herself from and effectively end our friendship felt and still feels very deliberate and intentional. I think that is what has hurt the most – her actions have felt so deliberate. My sense that my “friend” knowingly brought so much lasting hurt into my life by choosing to end our friendship has bothered me deeply for so very long.
No amount of comfort or consoling words has taken away the pain. No amount of reflection, perspective, or insight has taken the soreness out of the wound. After all this time, I have been unable to find a sense of wholeness, to fully mend the tear in my heart. The anger and the hurt have dulled, but I continue to search inside for the closure I need to finally shed the weight of this wound. I have learned this along the way: deep wounds weigh the most.
And so out of this New Year’s Eve offering, not just to the fire, but to the Universe, comes an intention for 2013: to find closure, to shed weight.
Several weeks ago one of my yoga teachers announced the she was offering a 7 week “holiday bliss” yoga nidra series, with each week, or practice, focusing on one of the seven chakras. Forever full of ideas and one who loves to plant seeds, I asked my teacher if she was also planning to pick a holiday word for each practice.
A woman in the class poo-pooed my idea. I don’t remember her exact words, but whatever she said was very bah humbug, along the lines of “why celebrate the season?” Perhaps she was feeling put off by the commercialism of the season and how manufactured the holidays can feel. Perhaps she was trying to articulate that not everyone celebrates the holidays. Or perhaps she was speaking from a place of pain. For many, the holidays can be a difficult time of year. Wounds around loss are triggered. Whatever this woman was feeling on the inside, I get where she’s coming from. I’ve been there.
A few months after my relationship ended, the holiday season arrived. I wasn’t ready to celebrate. It was much too painful. I avoided all things holiday. No tree, no presents, no cards, no cookies, no holiday music, no parties or celebrations. I don’t remember why, but I found myself in the decorations aisle at a store a few weeks before Christmas and the pain was heart wrenching. Cards, trees, ornaments, presents…all of this was a painful reminder of all the Christmases I had celebrated with “my person,” of how fun and special Christmas had been, and how that tradition had been “taken away” from me. Looking back, I see that my words and feeling that something was “taken away” very clearly illustrates how victimized I felt. But it’s ok that I felt that way. I was in a lot of pain. I was grieving. I lost something and someone that was a huge part of my life and I needed to experience the fullness of that loss before I could start to heal and move forward into my new life.
A little over three years later (this is Christmas number four post ka-boom) and I still haven’t hauled out the ornaments and put up a tree. (Putting a tree in a tree stand by oneself is a pretty difficult undertaking and I take such care in hanging ornaments that decorating the tree becomes quite a project). I still haven’t sent out cards and I still haven’t done any gift giving, other than a few little things where I felt “obligated” to give gifts. This year I *might* make some cookies. That first Christmas post ka-boom I decided I wouldn’t celebrate Christmas again until I had a reason to celebrate. And now I’ve sort of decided that I want to wait until I have someone special in my life with whom to share this season before I once again immerse myself in Christmas traditions and when I do, it might look different than my old life.
Honestly, it’s been good to have some time away from the holidays to get perspective and insight. I’m not sad that I’m not immersed in the flurry. For many, this season is a very stressful time of year and for me it’s nice to not have the extra stress of setting up and taking down a tree, shopping for gifts among the crowds, getting cards and packages sent off in the mail, all the parties, family gatherings, preparing holiday meals, and so on. So much gets packed in within a span of a few weeks that there isn’t much time to relax and reflect and absorb the season and prepare oneself for the New Year.
My second Christmas after my relationship ended I began a new holiday tradition, a tradition of gift giving to oneself, of practicing self care. I took myself to Costa Rica for a week long New Year’s yoga retreat. Last year I returned, arriving on Christmas day. I planned it that way. I wanted to begin experiencing my Christmas present to myself on Christmas day. I was greeted and welcomed with many a “Feliz Navidad.” The simplicity of the expression and greeting was very meaningful, a true gift. Oh, and the “Christmas” tree I discovered on the beach that was made of drift wood was pretty special too.
What a JOY to be re-united with yogis with whom I shared New Year’s the previous year. In the beach community of Nosara, Costa Rica I found a new place to go “Home for the Holidays” and in the yoga community, I discovered a new family. This year I’m headed to Mexico for the New Year to CELEBRATE with a new yoga family and experience the wonder of a new “home.”
In my time off from Christmas, I’ve re-invented the holidays for myself. For me, this time of year has become an opportunity to give a very meaningful gift to myself – to be in community with like minded souls and develop new friendships, to clear my mind and rejuvenate, and to discover and set intentions for the upcoming year. The holidays have become less about the hubbub and flurry of Christmas and more about the transition into the New Year, saying good-bye to the previous year and opening myself up to the New Year and all that awaits, allowing the momentum of the retreat experience to carry into the New Year.
To date my holiday retreats have been near the equator along the warm beaches of the Pacific Ocean and I’ve discovered that the sand is a great canvas for discovering what’s in my heart and the qualities and states of being I want to cultivate and manifest in my life.
Looking back I see that for the last two years I captured words and images in the sand that are often associated with the holiday season. Yet these words are not exclusive to Christmas or New Year’s. These are powerful, affirming words that can be intentions we set and manifest in our lives every day of the year. And if we make a practice of cultivating these qualities and states of being in our lives, we will transform our hearts and our lives and inspire the lives of those around us. And isn’t that the most beautiful, empowering, and inspiring gift we can give ourselves and to others? to transform our hearts, allowing our being to be filled with pure, limitless LOVE that we can give to ourselves and to others? I BELIEVE it is and so this holiday season I am gifting myself once again with a gift that will keep on giving.
HOPE photo provided courtesy of my friend and member of my Costa Rica yoga family, Heather.
I continue to contemplate light and my inner light. I hold the image of light in my awareness throughout each day.
I began contemplating light after darkness crept into my inner landscape. In the darkness I felt an “I give up feeling” and the scary thought “what’s the point?” began to form in my mind. Fortunately I found a spark of hope and was able to rekindle the light within. The images of gathering wood for an inner fire came to me as darkness permeated my inner landscape; I was able to rekindle my flame of hope as I gathered this wood, kindling, from my depths. From that spark of insight, the idea of rekindling the flame within, contemplation of my inner light emerged. The notion of my inner fire became the inspiration for my last blog post, “Discovering Light in the Dark.”
As part of my contemplation on light, I began a new ritual: I light a candle every night. For a minute or so after I light each candle I study the flame, I become curious. I look into the flame and marvel at its color – the gold, the blue, the purple “hallow” at the tip of the thread. I notice the shape of the flame – its soft edges, its height, its crest. I watch the steady flame or if there is movement in the air that disturbs the flame, I watch the flame flicker and dance, swaying side to side, bouncing in all directions.
I stay with the dancing flame until it becomes steady and still again. I note to myself that the light always seeks to steady itself, to come back to the center, to find a place of tranquility. I contemplate how this tranquil light is a great metaphor. The light models a state of being I can cultivate in my life: tranquility, inner stillness, free from agitation of mind or spirit.
I put my hands over the flame and feel its warmth and its heat. With my inner sense, my heart sense, I feel gratitude for this radiating light, for this glowing and shining light. I feel gratitude that because of this light I can see in the dark, both literally and figuratively. I feel gratitude for all that this light is teaching me. I feel grateful that the light is shining on my path of discovery.
Sometimes my practice and ritual of lighting a candle is a symbolic gesture. I place an intention on the light, an intention I want to manifest in my life, such as tranquility. The light represents that intention, it radiates the intention, it sends out the light of that intention.
Sometimes lighting the candle is a hopeful gesture. The light becomes the flame of a hope, wish, or desire I have in my life. The intent behind this action is to keep the fire burning around this hope, wish, or desire instead of letting the fire die out.
Other times my practice of lighting the candle serves as a reminder of my inner light. I hold the light in my hands with reverence, holding this light as if it is a delicate flower or a newborn baby. This light, my light, is precious and sacred. In these reverent moments I recite Pantajali’s Yoga Sutra I.36 “visoka va jyotishmati,” which translates into English as “the light within is free from all sorrow and suffering.”
I want to say a special thank you to my friend Katy who is a source of inspiration in my life. Katy is steady like the light, unwavering in her friendship to me. In times of my sorrow or grief or when my hope is fading, Katy lights a candle for me and sends light and healing and hopeful vibrations out into the Universe. Love and light to you!! <3