Tag Archives: November 2011

30
October

“All my life’s a circle; Sunrise and sundown; Moon rolls thru the nighttime; Till the daybreak comes around..” ~ Harry Chapin

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Off-the-Wall Musings
Comments Off on “All my life’s a circle; Sunrise and sundown; Moon rolls thru the nighttime; Till the daybreak comes around..” ~ Harry Chapin Tagged with

Each month, “My Better Day” newsletter contains tips for your yoga practice, yoga quotes to bring yoga off the mat and into your life, affirmations to brighten your day and motivate, and more!  It is my wish for your well-being that I send this newsletter to help make your day a Better Day!

In this issue:  Yoga quote, Practice yoga pose, Meditation on the go, Chakrascope, Hand Mudra, Featured Card Deck and Quote, Healthy News, Featured Recipe, Favorite Yoga Music / DVD, Happenings at Better Day Yoga LLC, Final Relaxation Quote.

Namasté,

Sandy Krzyzanowski

Founder, Better Day Yoga LLC

“All my life’s a circle; Sunrise and sundown; Moon rolls thru the nighttime; Till the daybreak comes around..” ~ Harry Chapin

In my recent meditation workshop, I highlighted “spinning” as a moving meditation.  The “Whirling Dervishes from the Sufis, such as Rumi, were known for this.  Perhaps the best known dance mediation is the Whirling Dervish from the Sufis.  See the Chakra Meditation book by Swami Saradananda for a “whirling meditation” to activate the solar plexus chakra.  The Five Tibetans by Peter Kelder also has spinning “rite” to stimulate, or speed up, the vortexes/chakras/energy centers in the body.

(Side note for those of you that are unsure of what a “chakra” is—here’s a reprint of the opening paragraph in my “Chakrascope” section below for a quick primer: The rainbow-colored spheres within my logo are representative of the chakra system within the body.

There are seven energy centers called chakras (literally “wheels”) that store energy/life force/prana.  They are along the spinal column and correlate to major nerve ganglia branching forth from the spinal column. Each has a different relationship to a gland in the body’s endocrine system. Each stimulates different organs and systems in the body. Hatha Yoga activates these energy centers releasing the energy that flows through the spine. Yoga helps these energy centers/nerve bundles to function correctly clearing blocks that may be there. Each chakra also is associated with a mental/emotional focus.)

The Five Tibetans by Peter Kelder promotes clockwise circles to stimulate the chakras/vortexes—that’s spinning from left to right. He even goes so far as to explain it one step further—“if you put a clock on the floor face up, you would turn in the same direction as the clock hands.” This is only one of the five “rites” you perform to get the energy centers (chakras) spinning normally again which is said to bring back and maintain your youthful health and vitality. The Chakra Meditation book by Swami Saradananda promotes an anticlockwise rotation of your body and focuses on using it to stimulate the solar plexus chakra—the gravitational center of your body and the center of your self worth.

I can’t explain or vouch for one direction of spin over the other except to say I have practiced the “Five Tibetans” and there was a definite effect. Let’s just say that my physical body told me something was indeed happening. That was enough for me. While I’ve read that healthy, unblocked chakras typically spin in the clockwise direction, I’ve also read that some believe the spin can change direction depending on whether you are male or female.

When I pointed the two spinning directions out as possible methods of moving meditations in my workshop, a Native American student in my class pointed out that there is “something to the direction” we take in circles. She shared that in her tribe you enter a burial ceremony walking in a counter-clockwise direction so the spirit of the recently deceased would know not to continue forward and that it was time to return to their source. It’s meant to bring peace to all.

I think modern society takes geometric shapes for granted. Had I known the rich history geometry has, I would have been a whole lot more interested in it the first time I encountered it in school! I know there is to be a “separation of church and state”, but I think it’s the magic of the spiritual that makes a subject come to life. Had they even alluded to the beginnings of geometry being “sacred geometry”, I know I would have paid more attention.

The circle, the triangle and the square “are believed to be the first symbols that were taught to man by priests over 25,000 years ago. At one level they represent sun (‘Circle and the One God’), earth (‘Square: the Earthly Mother’), and fire (‘Triangle: the Will’); at another they symbolize the base (crimson), the sacral (flame orange) and the solar (flame yellow) energy chakras. These are the chakras of the Lower (material and physical) self.” Harmony Angel Cards by Angela McGerr. (The base chakra in the second example is equal to the square, the sacral chakra is equal to the circle, and the solar (plexus) chakra is equal to the triangle.)

To encompass all the aspects of circles in our current and ancient history would be more than could be covered in a mere newsletter. This is my humble “spin”, if you will, on the magic contained within the circle.

The circle is the birthplace of all geometric shapes and patterns. The creation of the “line” was born when a second circle was made using any point on the circumference of the first as the center of the second circle. Connect the two points and you have a line. Connect the circles centers with each other and with the point above where the circles cross and you have a triangle. I could go on. You get the idea.

Literally, it is within the overlapping intersection of circles, referred to as the vesica piscis, that geometric shapes take their form. The vesica piscis is considered the “womb” within which all geometric patterns develop. The vesica piscis has had mystical and religious significance throughout history being associated with Freemasonry, some forms of the Kabbalah, and it is even referenced in the Gospel of John regarding Jesus’ miraculous catch of fish. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vesica_piscis

Why does such mysticism surround geometric shapes? Because the ancients considered geometry as sacred. Geometric patterns and shapes represented the Universe, our Source, our Gods and Goddesses. The triangle, for example, refers to the trinities found in various religions, and even science—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; Mother, Maiden, Crone; Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva; Mind, Body, Spirit; Light, Energy, and Mass. Geometry is nature expressing itself. Nature expressing itself is God expressing itself. So to say the circle is the birthplace of all geometric shapes and patterns is to say the circle represents our Source—the complete Universe. As the quotes that cap both the beginning and the end of my newsletter reflect, the circle represents the cycles of life.

Above the entrance to Plato’s academy in ancient Athens were the words “Let none ignorant of geometry enter here.” The understanding of mathematics was a prerequisite to entering the esteemed academy.

“Geometry existed before the creation” ~ Plato

“Numbers are the sources of form and energy in the world.” ~ Theon of Smyrna (Second Century A.D., Platonist mathematician)

Geometry was held with such high regard that the instruments of geometry were considered elements of the Divine—the compass, straight edge, and pencil. Geometric shapes and patterns were incorporated in art and architecture with the circle symbolizing the number “one”. The circle symbolized stability and oneness. Seated in a circle, we all have equal status, don’t we? The creation of a circle starts with a point in the center using a compass. Consider this—everything starts with a “point”—without a center, it is “pointless”; and, therefore, crumbles.

The circle is considered a sacred space:

  • “The Circle Christian Symbol represents eternity. The circle symbolizes eternity as it has no beginning or end. Because of this many early Christians believed that there was something divine in circles. Early Astronomy and astrology was connected to the divine for most medieval scholars, the circular shape of the sun, moon and the planets were related to God’s act of Creation. The following image shows the use of a compass to create the perfect circle. And a bright ring, or circle, is used (halo or aureole) to surround the heads of saints and the whole bodies of other holy persons.” http://www.catholic-saints.info/catholic-symbols/circle-christian-symbol.htm

Circle in Christian Art
Image Credit: http://www.catholic-saints.info/catholic-symbols/circle-christian-symbol.htm

 

  • “The medicine wheel is a sacred symbol used by Plains tribes and others to represent all knowledge of the universe.
    The medicine wheel consists of a circle with horizontal and vertical lines drawn through the circle’s center. Sometimes, an eagle feather is attached in the wheel’s center.Design MeaningCircle -The circle represents the sacred outer boundary of the Earth often referred to as the Sun Dance Circle or the Sacred Hoop. It represents the continuous pattern of on-going life and death.

    Lines- The horizontal and vertical lines represent the sun and man’s sacred paths, respectively; the crossing of the two lines indicates the center of the Earth where one stands when praying.

    Feather -The eagle feather is a sign of Wakan Tanka’s – the Great Spirit’s – power over everything.” To read more about the medicine wheel and the colors of the four directions, go to http://www.aktalakota.org/index.cfm?cat=1&artid=47


Image Credit: http://www.crystalinks.com/medicinewheel.html

  • Medicine wheels, or sacred hoops, were constructed by laying stones in a particular pattern on the ground. Most medicine wheels follow the basic pattern of having a center of stone(s), and surrounding that is an outer ring of stones with “spokes”, or lines of rocks radiating from the center. Some ancient types of sacred architecture were built by laying stones on the surface of the ground in particular patterns common to aboriginal peoples.Originally, and still today, medicine wheels are stone structures constructed by certain indigenous peoples of North America for various astronomical, ritual, healing, and teaching purposes. Medicine wheels are still “opened” or inaugurated in Native American spirituality where they are more often referred to as “sacred hoops”, which is the favored English rendering by some. There are various native words to describe the ancient forms and types of rock alignments. One teaching involves the description of the four directions. More recently, syncretic, hybridized uses of medicine wheels, magic circles, and mandala sacred technology are employed in New Age, Wiccan, Pagan and other spiritual discourse throughout the World.An odd variation sometimes found in medicine wheels is the presence of a passageway, or a doorway, in the circles. The outer ring of stones will be broken, and there will be a stone path leading up to the center of the wheel.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medicine_wheel

(See the “Meditation on the Go” Section below for more on Labyrinths.)

Bighorn medicine wheel in Wyoming
Image credit: http://www.sacredland.org/medicine-wheel/

Geometry is defined as “The mathematics of the properties, measurement, and relationships of points, lines, angles, surfaces, and solids.” http://www.thefreedictionary.com/geometry. As already alluded to, the ancients associated a number with each geometric shape—the circle symbolizing the number one, the line representing the number two, the triangle representing the number three, the square representing the number four, etc. In their effort to understand their Creator, our ancestors analyzed nature’s points, lines, angles, surfaces, and solids because they knew that to know the creator, we only need to look at their creation.

“If you want to understand the Creator, seek to understand created things.” ~ St. Columbanus (c. 543-615).

Pythagoras, the Greek philosopher, felt “numbers to be the ultimate elements of the universe” and established a correlation between mathematics and energy. Churches have been constructed using mystical number systems that the architects believed enhanced an experience of God while within their walls. Egyptians used magical ratios and mystical geometry to construct the pyramids. Incorporating the energy of geometric patterns into their lives was their way of worshiping their Creator—Sacred geometry indeed.

Movement, Spirals, and Spin

The rotation along the circle also mesmerized our ancestors. Going in a clockwise direction, historically, has been considered flowing with the Wheel, or circle, of Life. It was considered the natural flow.

The movement of the sun had significant influence in ancient cultures. The sun’s energy was vital to all life. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west—clockwise. Anything that flowed opposite to this movement was considered negative or unlucky. There are many stories in folklore about counterclockwise movement bringing chaos and loss of power.

Perhaps this is why there is some evidence that traveling west to east (counterclockwise) is more disruptive for most? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jet_lag. Or perhaps this is why UPS drivers find more efficiency by using right turns exclusively in all of their deliveries? http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-03-24/strategy/30081749_1_routes-engineers-map-ups We can only speculate. I’ve read that Native Americans both enter and exit the sweat lodge in a clockwise/”sunwise” direction.

But don’t discount counter-clockwise yet! The Cherokee fire and stomp dance ceremony is done in a counterclockwise direction to keep the heart toward the fire. http://www.cherokeebyblood.com/religion.htm. The earth rotates on its axis in a counterclockwise direction and it is the direction it circles around the sun. Likewise, the moon moves around the earth in a counterclockwise direction as does our solar system in the Milky Way. Our Milky Way is another type of circle, the spiral.


Map of the Milky Way. Image credit: Caltech

“The Spiral is known as an ancient symbol of evolution. One of the oldest symbols of human spirituality in existence, the spiral has been found carved into cave dwellings, rocks and tombs all over the world. It is said to symbolize the evolution of the universe, the never-ending cycles of growth, change and eternal life as well as the cycles of the seasons.

The spiral seems to tell a story about the labyrinthine journey of life and death and speaks of the possibility of rebirth. Each loop of the spiral progresses us to a higher level, yet always returns us to the same place. It demonstrates life renewal by returning to the source.

Spirals are seen in all forms of nature. Shells, plants, galaxies and even human fingertips are just a few of the places that this simple design appears.” http://www.montanadreams.net/symbology/symbols/spir_1.html

“The Celts and other ancient peoples are thought to have used spirals as symbols of the sun, source of all life. (The spiral) reflects the undying energy of the universe—as well as the progress of the soul.” Meditating with Mandalas, by David Fontana.

The spiral can be an analogy for your spiritual path in life. Journeying inward along the spiral, you find your own unique center—your “point” for being in this world at this time. While journeying outward, you experience your life lessons. Just when you think you have mastered one lesson, the spiral teaches you that there is always a next and a next around the bend. We are always journeying, always learning. The journey inward parallels your journey outward. Your progress in one direction fosters the progress in the other direction. It is through life’s lessons that you come to accumulate your inner wisdom. It is through your accumulated inner wisdom that you are better able to understand life’s lessons. This analogy echoes the dual spirals of our DNA containing the traits which make each of us unique.


The structure of part of a DNA double helix
Image credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DNA

Clockwise or counterclockwise? Is one really better, or more natural, than the other? Does one really represent a negative aspect and the other a positive one? I believe it depends on your purpose, and as always, your focus. Both directions have their “best purpose”. Yin/yang; cold/hot; male, female; light, dark—you can’t have one without the other. You can’t have the inhale without the exhale. Polar opposites define each other. Neither is better nor best.

Even if you might associate the right as “positive” and the left as “negative”, consider that we turn jar tops and other containers to the right (clockwise) to “close” and to the left (counterclockwise) to “open”. Do you associate “closing” as a positive or negative? How about “opening”? They are polar opposites. Both are required for the lids to function as intended. Neither is “good” or “bad”.

When I wrote about using my “singing Tibetan bowls” to clear the chakras, I referenced using the clockwise direction to align the chakras and the counterclockwise direction to clear any blocks. This is similar to the Reiki (energy work) spiral symbol, known as Cho Ku Rei. The counterclockwise spin decreases and disperses energy, removing blocks; and the clockwise direction increases energy. Both directions have their positive aspects. It’s all in how you define it.

“For every action there is an equal but opposite reaction.” ~ Sir Issac Newton

Wish you could retake your high school geometry class now? I didn’t think so, but it’s my hope that perhaps you’ll look twice at nature’s designs and ponder along with your ancestors.

“Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back to where they were. The life of a man is in a circle from childhood to childhood and so it is in everything where power moves. Our teepees were round like the nests of birds, and these were always set in a circle, the nation’s hoop.” ~ Black Elk.

“All my life’s a circle;
Sunrise and sundown;
Moon rolls thru the nighttime;
Till the daybreak comes around.

All my life’s a circle;
But I can’t tell you why;
Season’s spinning round again;
The years keep rollin’ by.

It seems like I’ve been here before;
I can’t remember when;
But I have this funny feeling;
That we’ll all be together again.

No straight lines make up my life;
And all my roads have bends;
There’s no clear-cut beginnings;
And so far no dead-ends.

Chorus:
I found you a thousand times;
I guess you done the same;
But then we lose each other;
It’s like a children’s game;

As I find you here again;
A thought runs through my mind;
Our love is like a circle;
Let’s go ’round one more time.

Chorus ”

Lyrics From The Harry Chapin Archive at Harrychapin.com

(This is my favorite version of this absolutely beautiful song by one of my favorite songwriters, Harry Chapin.)

29
October

Wheel (Sanskrit term: Urdva Mukha Dhanurasana or the more advanced Chakrasana)

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Empower Your Yoga Practice
Comments Off on Wheel (Sanskrit term: Urdva Mukha Dhanurasana or the more advanced Chakrasana) Tagged with

I chose this pose for obvious reasons—the focus on this issue is the circle!  Full disclosure—I don’t cue wheel in my classes; and in my personal practice, I typically use a fitness ball as a prop for my first wheel and then progress to not using a prop. It is not a pose to be taken lightly and requires experience and practice to be done safely. Given that low back issues are common, I err on the side of caution.

That being said, if wheel pose is already in your practice, remember to always warm up prior to attempting any backbend! Practice in a series of poses in order to work up to wheel, such as, sphinx, cobra, camel, updog (another pose I don’t cue as part of my desire to err on the side of caution—too many “dump” into the low back here), supported standing backbend, bow, and bridge. Work with the upper back first (sphinx or cobra) and progress to the center and low back with the others.

Benefits:

  • Strengthens:  Glutes, hamstrings, lower back, upper back, shoulders, arms, wrists
  • Stretches:  Hip Flexors, abs, chest, shoulders, lungs
  • Stimulates thyroid and pituitary
  • Improves your mood
  • Energizes the nervous system
  • Increases flexibility of the spine and chest
  • Improves circulation
  • Beneficial for asthma and back pain

Energetic Benefits:

  • Wheel stimulates all the chakras. The main energetic stimulation is on the heart chakra—opening your heart to the world and your solar plexus chakra—your identity and power chakra.

Alignment cues: 

After bridge pose, place hands on either side of your head. Fingers are pointing toward the feet. Feet are flat on the floor hip-width apart. I have seen various cues for how to position the feet. I’ve been cued to have the outer edges of the feet parallel to the edges of the mat like mountain pose. Judith Hanson Lasater, Ph.D., P.T. cues the toes turned inward in her book, Yoga Body. Anatomy, Kinesiology, and Asana. Yoga Journal cues to “keep your thighs and inner feet parallel”.  http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/473
I think it’s important to keep your knees going in the same direction as your toes. It’s most important to have knee comfort and safety. So feet hip distance apart with knees and toes aligned is what I focus on.  Press through your hands to lift your head, shoulders, and butt off the floor while pushing feet firmly into the floor. Pause. Straighten your arms first, and then your legs, as you bring your body into an arch. Elbows are turned in on the rise. Keep your neck relaxed. Release your low back. Internally rotate both your thighs and your shoulders. Release your head down.

Focus on stretching the front of your body without struggle or strain. Keep the front of your body relaxed with the abdominal muscles passive so you can breathe softly. Use the strength from the back of your body.

To come out, tuck your chin and place the back of your head on the mat as you lower your back to the mat.

Important counterpose: Lay flat in neutral after the pose for as long as you were in the pose. I’ve been cued to do a supine butterfly pose bringing the soles of your feet together as your knees open out to release the low back. So I show both below. Your back is precious—take care which counterpose you choose!

Read the following excerpt from Yoga Journal online for more tips:

“Pose/Counterpose
A somewhat similar and traditional approach to sequencing is to follow some poses with their opposite movement. Most often, the concept of pose/counterpose involves practicing a forward bend after a backbend. In all my years of teaching, I have never heard students request backbends after forward bends, only the other way around.

With only a few limited exceptions, I prefer not to practice or teach using this approach; instead, I like to examine what I am doing in my backbend that makes me feel as though I need to immediately practice a forward bend. Such an urge makes me suspicious that I am compressing my spine unevenly in the backbend. Rather than jumping to practice a forward bend to undo the side effects of an uneven backbend, I attempt to discover exactly where and how I am compressing my back and to relieve that compression. I do, however, make an exception when I am teaching beginning students. Sometimes after backbends I will give beginners a little bit of a forward stretch, such as Downward-Facing Dog….

The main point to remember about pose/counterpose sequencing is that the best counterpose to a backbend is not a forward bend; instead, it is to do a lesser backbend. Most students seem to find that a lesser backbend is a relief, and it also does not strain the structures of the back as moving from an extreme backbend into a forward-bending movement can do. A couple of simpler backbends after a deep backbend practice feel great.

After several Urdhva Dhanurasanas (wheel), I sometimes have students just lie flat on the floor on their backs, with legs straight, and their arms over their heads and resting on the floor. This position is still an extension or backbending movement for the spine, but it is also, of course, less of a backbend than the previous pose. From this pose, you can easily and comfortably do a supine twist or another supine pose like Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose).

Always remember to pay attention to the effects of a pose before you choose the next pose. If you choose a counterpose, be careful not to move to the most extreme opposite movement right away. Instead, proceed gradually toward that movement, using several intermediate movements to get there.”

http://www.yogajournal.com/basics/819?print=1

Modification/Beginners:  To build strength, keep your elbows bent and only come to the top of your head.  Keep all your weight on your hands and feet—not your head and neck.  Practice several “push-ups”, making each a bit higher than previous.

Advanced variations:

  • One legged wheel / Eka Pada Urdhva Dhanurasana:   As I explained earlier, I like to use an exercise ball as a prop and for this advanced version, I use the ball. Exhale and lift right knee in toward chest. Inhale and extend the right leg toward the sky. Hold 5-10 seconds, exhale, bend the knee and return the foot to the floor, perpendicular to the floor. Repeat other side.
  • Chakrasana:  Similar to the original pose, except that in this pose, you walk your hands to your feet and grasp your ankles—definitely NOT in my practice so not shown!  The connected hands and feet makes the body appear as a circle or wheel. “This circle represents the completion of our internal energy circuit, which begins at the energy center that is located at the base of the spine and ends at the energy center at the crown of the head.” Myths of the Asanas. The stories at the heart of the yoga tradition, by Alanna Kaivalya & Arjuna van der Kooij

Add a prop: 

  • My favorite prop for this pose— a large fitness ball, to extend your back over.
  • Loop and secure a strap around the thighs, just above the knees, to hold the thighs at hip distance, parallel to each other.
  • Place a block between the feet to keep them hip distance apart. The bases of the big toes should be pressing the ends of the block.
  • Place a block braced at the wall under your hands if armpits are tight, or under the feet at the wall if groins are tight.

  • Use the wall behind you to walk down the wall as far as comfortable.

  • Use the teacher’s ankles to grab and they can assist you upwards. (Not Shown)

Contraindicated for: 

  • back injury
  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • heart problems
  • headache
  • high or low blood pressure.
  • do not do this pose while pregnant

Sources:  http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/473
Yoga to the rescue. Remedies for real girls, by Amy Luwis.
Beth Shaw’s Yogafit®. The program for a more powerful, flexible, and defined physique, by Beth Shaw.

Possible Spiritual aspects of Wheel pose:

Backbend are stimulating and exciting. They evoke a sense of openness and can build confidence. As mentioned earlier, wheel stimulates all of the chakras with the main energetic stimulation landing in the heart and solar plexus.

When you open your heart to the world you ability to give and receive love is enhanced. The solar plexus chakra is your sense of self worth and personal power. It contains your will power. Strengthening your sense of self worth is also a benefit of an open heart.

Use wheel to empower yourself to give and receive love openly while containing your power within. Shining your love out strengthens your inner wisdom. Similar to the spiral described in the opening section, the journey inward parallels your journey outward. Your progress in one direction fosters the progress in the other direction. As you are empowered within the heart, you are empowered to bring your gifts out into the world, increasing your personal power.

28
October

Using Mandalas as a meditative practice

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Magic of Yoga and Meditation
Comments Off on Using Mandalas as a meditative practice Tagged with

In the opening section we talked about medicine wheels. “An odd variation sometimes found in medicine wheels is the presence of a passageway, or a doorway, in the circles. The outer ring of stones will be broken, and there will be a stone path leading up to the center of the wheel.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medicine_wheel. And so we introduced the concept of a labyrinth! Walking a labyrinth, whether it is on foot or with a portable labyrinth using your finger or wooden tracer stick, is a meditative process inviting introspection. It is very relaxing.

“What is a Labyrinth?
A labyrinth is a single path or unicursal tool for personal, psychological and spiritual transformation. Labyrinths are thought to enhance right brain activity.

The Classical Seven Circuit Labyrinth in this example shows that you enter a labyrinth through the mouth and then walk on the paths or circuits. The walls keep you on the path. The goal is in the center of the labyrinth. When you reach it, you have gone half the distance – you now need to turn around and walk back out.” http://labyrinthsociety.org/about-labyrinths. This site is also has a link to a world-wide labyrinth locator!  How cool is that? Who knew Minnesota had so many labyrinths? http://labyrinthlocator.com/home. There is even a link to buying a portable labyrinth: http://www.tlslabyrinthmarket.co.uk/portable.html. All worth checking out!

Below is a mandala of a labyrinth for your meditation to go. Enjoy!

Using Mandalas as a meditative practice: Circular mandalas have been used as a meditative practice for centering the mind. This refers to the symbolic power of geometrical shapes as a point of meditative focus. You gaze first at the mandala, with eyes open for as long as is comfortable, imbedding the image into memory so you can then focus upon the intricacies as a mental image with eyes closed focusing inward.

David Fontana has two books that are great references for a meditation practice, and the second one specifically for using Mandalas as a form of meditation: The Meditator’s Handbook as well as Meditating with Mandalas—the example I use below. The latter book contains many beautiful geometric mandalas to use in your meditations if you find this type of meditation is something you’d like to look into further.
http://www.amazon.com/Meditating-Mandalas-Help-Peace-Awareness/dp/1844831175 .
Also see: http://www.amazon.com/David-Fontana/e/B000AQ26QA/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0 .

“In meditation, yantras (another name for a type of mandala) also focus the meditator’s energies, not only by acting as a point of concentration but also by operating upon the unconscious through the symbolic meaning of the shapes they contain.” (The Meditator’s Handbook.)

The Pilgrim’s Maze

The Labyrinth was once a symbol of moral confusion, but in the middle ages Christians began to see it as the true way of belief. This mandala is based on the maze on the floor of Chartres Cathedral, France.

1.  Follow the labyrinth from its entrance (at the bottom) all the way to the floral device at its center. You should not lose your way, because the labyrinth is unicursal—that is, it has no junctions. But if you forget where you are, go back to the start and try again.

2. As you get closer to the center, imagine travelling deeper into the self. The labyrinth is your physical incarnation, the life you lead on Earth; and, at the same time, it is the challenges that you face in following your spiritual destiny.

3. Once you reach the center, view it as a tunnel that leads down into the page. Step into this tunnel. For many, the labyrinth continues, but for you the path is now straight—as long as you keep the purity of heart that your pilgrimage has brought you.

Source:  The Meditator’s Handbook as well as Meditating with Mandalas, by David Fontana.

 

About the author, David Fontana: “Dr. David G. J. Fontana, Ph.D, FBPS (1934 – 18 October 2010) was a British academic, psychologist and author. He was Professor of Psychology at the Cardiff University. He was also visiting professor at John Moores University and the University of the Algarve.

Born in Middlesex, Fontana was a Fellow of the British Psychological Society, a Chartered Psychologist and a Chartered Counseling Psychologist. He published more than 45 books, including popular treatments of dreams and symbols.

Fontana took an interest in paranormal research such as mediumship, poltergeist cases and Electronic voice phenomena, and was at one time president of the Society for Psychical Research, from 1995-98.

Fontana, together with Ingrid Slack and Martin Treacy in 1996, established a Transpersonal Psychology Section within the British Psychological Society, adding academic credibility to this school of thought at the fringe of academic psychology. Fontana attended the annual conferences of the Transpersonal Section of the British Psychological Society, which, for the first two years, were in Birmingham, and from 1999 onwards, generally took place at Cloughton, near Scarborough, North Yorkshire.

He served as the first president of the British Psychological Society’s Transpersonal Section, a post he held from 1996-2001. His primary academic affiliation was at Cardiff University, where he was Distinguished Visiting Fellow. He wrote on such topics as education, Buddhism, meditation and mindfulness, dreams, symbols, the psychology of religion, Christianity and survival.” http://www.amazon.com/David-Fontana/e/B000AQ26QA/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

If you found the above interesting, please consider taking my meditation “how to” classes.  Visit my Web-site, www.betterdayyoga.com for details.

27
October

The Sacral Chakra and the Circle

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Chakrascope ~ Your Vital Energy Centers
Comments Off on The Sacral Chakra and the Circle Tagged with

 

If you are familiar with chakras, then you can tell from my logo that I love chakras.  The rainbow-colored spheres within my logo are representative of the chakra system within the body.

If you are unfamiliar, here’s a quick lesson:  There are seven energy centers called chakras (literally “wheels”) that store energy/life force/prana.  They are along the spinal column and correlate to major nerve ganglia branching forth from the spinal column.  Each has a different relationship to a gland in the body’s endocrine system.  Each stimulates different organs and systems in the body.  Hatha Yoga activates these energy centers releasing the energy that flows through the spine.  Yoga helps these energy centers/nerve bundles to function correctly clearing blocks that may be there.  Each chakra also is associated with a mental/emotional focus.  In each newsletter I’ll highlight how you can work with a particular chakra to correspond with the season.


Image Credit:  http://howtoopenchakras.com/sacral-chakra/

In the opening section, I noted that the circle was associated with the sacral chakra. Since this month’s section is dedicated to the circle, let’s explore the sacral chakra! In the Meditation on the Go section I introduced mandalas and yantras as forms of meditation. The image above is a yantra for the sacral chakra. Each chakra has a yantra associated with it. So if you are considering using mandalas or yantras as a form of meditation, and want to work on a particular chakra, find the yantra that is associated with the chakra you are focusing on to meditate upon.

The sacral chakra is located near the “sacrum”, genital and kidney area of the body. In a woman, it is associated with the womb. Given that the circle is considered the creative center or “womb” for geometric shapes and patterns, as mentioned in my opener, you can understand the connection to the sacral chakra.

The element of the sacral chakra is water, going with the flow—going with the flow in the circle of life. Wherever we are in the circle of life, life is meant to be enjoyed and savored. This chakra is about enjoying the sweetness of life which corresponds to the sense of taste. It is the home of your emotions, creativity, and sensuality.

The Sanskrit term for this chakra translates to “the sacred home of the self” and “the sweet place”, among others. It’s location near the sacrum also has significance. “Sacrum” comes from the Latin word meaning “holy” or “sacred’, echoing the elements of the “sacred” circle outlined earlier. Remember the circle was considered the womb of sacred geometry, and geometric patterns and shapes represented the Universe, our Source, our Gods and Goddesses. These definitions remind us that enjoying the sweetness of life is a sacred act empowering us to create the life our Creator meant for us to live.

As we dive into this holiday season, many of us attempt to create sweetness and enjoyment for our loved ones while forgetting our own happiness. This chakra reminds us that you can only give what you already contain inside. Perhaps if you viewed your own happiness and enjoyment as a prerequisite to being able to provide it for others, you’d feel less guilty. Guilt is another element associated with this chakra.

Sometimes guilt is appropriate, and sometimes it’s not. When you feel guilty for experiencing enjoyment and pleasure, you are denying your right to feel. We each have a basic right to feel. You can’t cut off your emotions and expect to live a passion, joy-filled life just as you can’t expect to create joy for another without first feeling it for yourself. So let joy in! Be open to it!

Allow this season to bubble up with joy inside of you—even in the mundane tasks. Commit to choosing joy. Here are some of the ways I “call out” the joy waiting to be experienced:

  • Snow can create worry and stress over the need to shovel it, leave early for your destination to allow for driving in it, and dress in layers to stay warm in it. Remember how much you loved snow as a child? A couple of years ago I decided to bring back the play time that came with snow. I commit to making a snow angel whenever I’m outside in the snow. Last year I think I got to the upper teens—clearly room for improvement!
    (Side bonus compliments of Prevention magazine’s December issue:  “Getting outside during a cold snap can do your body good:  There’s evidence that the temporary physical stress of being cold—whether it’s the result of being outside on a freezing day or taking a cold shower—may strengthen the immune system. In fact, athletes use a form of cold treatment known as cryotherapy to recover from hard training. Best of all, the cold bite of a winter day may even help burn body fat, according to a study from the New England Journal of Medicine.)
  • My husband and I have had a Christmas party each year since we’ve been married. The decorating can be overwhelming and takes quite a bit of time. When I noticed that “dread” was replacing the joy of the season the decorations were meant to bring out, I started decorating earlier to allow for a more leisurely pace. I also play seasonal music, hum or sing along, and have mulled wine while decorating the tree. One of the main purposes of the sacral chakra is to promote movement. So dance to the music that surrounds you! Make each moment a dance!
  • Playing seasonal music, or any music that brings you joy, also helps when I’m in the car on the long snowy drives, as does humming or singing along! Try it! See my January 2011 newsletter for more on the benefits of humming:   http://betterdayyoga.com/tag/january-2011.
    Music makes each of us feel something. By acting as a gateway to emotional stimulation, music can motivate and inspire, life and build; it can also depress, anger and intensify. What is it that makes us so sensitive to music’s sound waves?As Christi Bonds-Garret, MD, taught during a profound lecture during Young Living’s 2011 Convention in Orlando, Florida, it is because we are composed mostly of water that we are easily influenced by the positivity and negativity produced by sound waves and their frequencies.’We are water. Newborns are 90 percent water and adults are 70 percent water,’ states Dr. Bonds-Garrett. ‘It’s easy to see how we are so easily affected.'” The Essential Edge News by Young Living Essential Oils, Volume 1, Issue 7). Also see my November 2010 newsletter’s “Featured Deck” section for more on the effects of words and music on our body:  http://betterdayyoga.com/tag/november-2010
  • Wear something festive every day, even if it’s only placing a pin on your coat for the season. Decorate your work area if it’s appropriate. Pull out a seasonal mug or plate and use it throughout the season. Every time you see or use these items, you are announcing to yourself that it’s time to enjoy and celebrate life!
  • Participate in your favorite rituals of the season. Mine include lighting candles, opening the days on an advent calendar, and caroling at our annual party. Let’s not forget the mulled wine on tree decorating day! Lighting a candle invites spirit into your day and takes only a moment.
  • Be someone’s secret Santa. The idea behind this one is to do something unexpectedly nice for someone else. It might be paying the toll for the car behind you as you travel to see relatives, buying someone’s meal anonymously when you’re shopping at the mall and see a deserving family or Vet, or shoveling your neighbor’s drive. Giving when it’s unexpected is not the same as giving out of obligation. The joy will well up inside of you. Try it—you’ll see!
  • Create your own special evening alone or with a loved one. It can include a hot bath with candles, watching a favorite movie, giving yourself or a loved one a foot massage, sitting in front of a fire, and reading your favorite book.
  • Make it a point to kiss or hug a loved one every time you see them and perhaps shout “We have fun, don’t we?!” Calling out the moments allows them to be enjoyed.
  • Make it a point to smile as big as you can to everyone you see. At first this may seem uncomfortable if you’re not used to it, but after awhile, you’ll start to feel unusual when you aren’t smiling! My husband and I do this regularly—we lovingly refer to it as “monkey face” since it resembles a gregarious monkey smiling from ear to ear. We always add a tip back of the head as though we are shining the smile out with all of our might. It brings joy to the “smile-er” and the “smile-ee”.

I know you can come up with some ideas of your own! What brings you joy? What can you do right now to increase the pleasure you allow into your life? Embrace what makes your life worth living and if you don’t know what that is; make it your goal to find out!

This chakra reminds you that your pleasure is yours to create! Find your passion! Decide that now is the time to do something, anything that makes you smile! Remember that sometimes it takes effort to smile, and then the smile becomes real. You have a right to feel. What do you want to feel right now? Create it!

Breathwork and Visualization: 

“Before you start, choose a leisurely and relaxed time to meditate. Create an atmosphere with oils, candles, or incense. Tape the words if you like. Dots indicate a pause.

1. As you lie motionless, become aware of change and movement that continues in your body…your heartbeat…blood flow around your body….cellular activity that invisibly rejuvenates your whole being. Your every breath celebrates life…nourishing you with everything you need for a healthy, enjoyable life.

2. Focus on the gentle movement of your abdomen as you breathe. Imagine it filled with a warm, orange glow, representing joy and vitality, both of which are available to you in abundance…

3. Bring to mind a pleasurable experience…Recollect all the senses that will bring that moment back to life for you now…Remember how you felt…the colors around you…textures…shapes…sounds…smells…tastes.

4. Shift that image to your abdomen so that the warm, orange glow suffuses it, magnifying the experience and making it even more satisfying and joyous… Surrender your body to the pleasures of that moment…something you deserve to experience every day of your life, and can have again every time you put your mind to it…

5. Know that your life can be a succession of wonderful, beneficial experiences if you choose it to be so…Determine to look for the opportunities, the love, the joy, and the fun in all you do today. You deserve it.”

Source:  The Book of Chakra Healing by Liz Simpson

Second meditation compliments of Cyndi Dale’s new book, Energetic Boundaries:  “A circle promotes relationships, harmony, and connection. A circle envisioned between two or more people (or living beings) invites an exchange of energy. Check the energy. If it’s bright and loving, the swap is positive. If it’s negative, the exchange is hurting you and creating a syndrome.

Establishing a circle around ourselves, through any or all of the energetic boundaries, will emphasize wholeness and send an energy of love to others. It will also create a ‘sacred circle,’ a protected space that only love can enter. You can also psychically draw a circle around a part of you, such as an inner child or an idea, and keep it secure.

If you constantly pick up energy from others or the environment, go a step further and imagine a circle (a silver one is best) drawn under your feet and moving everywhere you move. This circle will cleanse the ground you walk on and shimmer upward through your entire field, deflecting negative energies.”

Affirmations

  • I am moving toward a time when I am totally happy and fulfilled.
  • Life offers me everything I need for that journey.
  • I am worthy of love and pleasure.
  • I have a right to express my desires to myself and others.
  • Who I am is good enough.
  • Life is unfolding as it should be.
  • I love my life.
  • I honor my body and treat myself respectfully.
  • I feel the power of healing moving in and through me as I affirm my worth and honor my body.
  • I trust my feelings and give them ample room for expression.
  • I lighten my body each time I feel well in myself.
  • I am a creature of light, open to my highest joy.
  • I am grateful for the joy of being me.
  • I receive pleasure and abundance with every breath I take.
  • Goodness, beauty and joy resonate with my soul.
  • I am entitled to happiness, health and joy in my life.
  • Healing occurs each time I rest, relax and enjoy myself.
  • My body responds to thoughts of pure love and goodness.
  • I know my body always seeks balance and regeneration.
  • I get stronger every time I affirm my worth and honor my choices for love.
  • There is nothing to change about the way I am.
  • Nobody needs to fix or heal me. I reclaim my power to look after myself.
  • I unconditionally love who I am, exactly as I am.
  • I give others the space that they need and love them just as they are.
  • As I love and respect myself, healing happens naturally.

Sources: The Book of Chakra Healing by Liz Simpson
http://inspirationsatsang.blogspot.com/2010/06/sixth-chakra-affirmations.html

 

Diet and the Sacral Chakra:

Since the sacral chakra’s element is water, adding more liquid into your diet is essential. Water is the liquid of choice! Soup, hot tea, and fresh juices are all good! The sacral chakra vibrates to the color orange so add orange colored foods to your diet such as carrots, mangoes, tangerines and oranges.


Aromatherapy and the Sacral Chakra
:

Jasmine, Rose, Sandalwood.

If aromatherapy interests you, I use Young Living Essential Oils™ which are therapeutic, food-grade oils.  Please inquire if you are interested in purchasing a favorite scent and I can add your request to my personal monthly order.  Essential oils raise the vibrational frequency of the body. When the vibrational frequency of the body drops, we become more receptive to ill health: http://justalist.blogspot.com/2008/03/vibrational-frequency-list.html. Therapeutic-grade essential oils are great to have in your arsenal of health promoting natural products.


Gem therapy and the Sacral Chakra
: 

Gemstones amplify the energy when placed in contact with your chakras.  For those of you unsure on this subject, consider that it’s scientifically proven that everything is energy.  Nothing is really solid.  Why wouldn’t the energy of a stone work effectively with the energy in our bodies just as some research speculates that the energy of computers, cell phones, and microwaves may affect our bodies?  At the very least, I find that holding a favorite stone is like a talisman for me, or a “worry stone”.  As my favorite author, Wayne Dyer, likes to say, “If it’s a placebo effect, I’ll take two”.

Some Sacral Chakra gems are:  Citrine, Carnelian, Golden topaz

If gem therapy interests you, you can find a great selection at www.crystallinelight.com or you can also link to her Web site from my links page at www.betterdayyoga.com.  I’ve known Jennifer, the owner, for many years and love her products!


Yoga poses for the Sacral Chakra:

All yoga poses are essentially grounding and activate the chakras. Some yoga poses to stimulate the sacral chakra include: Supine butterfly pose, pelvic tilts while in bridge pose, goddess squat pose, and fish pose.

26
October

Mudra for Preventing Burnout

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Hand Mudra, Newsletter
Comments Off on Mudra for Preventing Burnout Tagged with

Mudra means “seal” in Sanskrit.  It’s a symbolic or ritual gesture using primarily the hands.  Each position is believed to have a specific effect.  Specific positions can lead to specific states of consciousness symbolized by the hand positions.  For example, if a person frequently and with feeling does a position of fearlessness, they will also be freed from fearfulness in time.  Mudras are said to engage areas of the brain and/or soul influencing them, sometimes physically, by their use—not unlike an affirmation, or reflexology for that matter.

“One way that all of us can better care for ourselves is by developing techniques for coping
with the irritations and anxiety that are part of life…

Think of these gestures as self-talk for your hands. These simple movements, the gestures
that we often make unconsciously, can help us focus on our work, calm ourselves, release anger and energize us. Used for centuries by many different cultures, mudras are seen in Eastern dance and meditation, in ancient Egyptian friezes, even in Byzantine icons of Christ. Most of us use them today, too: we wave goodbye, we press a hand to our chest in distress, we wriggle our fingers to release energy, or press fingertips together to calm ourselves.

Easy to learn, mudras can be done anywhere, at any time: at traffic lights, in meetings, in
airplanes, when we’re arguing, when we’re grieving, when we need to prepare for sleep. The word mudra can be translated from the Sanskrit as that which brings inner peace, and that s what mudras are: a physical means of quieting our bodies.”  Product description for Mudras: Ancient Gestures to Ease Modern Stress by Emily Fuller Williams.

A great video about mudras:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7-iXzMdfIs&feature=player_embedded#at=147

Mudra for Preventing Burnout

This month’s focus is on the circle. The circle, along with the square and the triangle, are believed to be the first symbols taught to man by priests over 25,000 years ago, as mentioned in my opening section:

“At one level they represent sun (‘Circle and the One God’), earth (‘Square: the Earthly Mother’), and fire (‘Triangle: the Will’); at another they symbolize the base (crimson), the sacral (flame orange) and the solar (flame yellow) energy chakras. These are the chakras of the Lower (material and physical) self.” Harmony Angel Cards by Angela McGerr. (The base chakra in the second example is equal to the square, the sacral chakra is equal to the circle, and the solar (plexus) chakra is equal to the triangle.)

Since the base, sacral, and solar plexus chakras are represented by the square, circle, and triangle, respectively, I chose this month’s mudra to honor these original sacred symbols. This mudra will also help prevent the burnout that can happen during the holidays!

As we dive into the holiday season, remember to prioritize your time. Doing more than usual is status quo this time of year, so be sure and build in time to rejuvenate. At the very least, taking time outs for a mindful minute of breathing deeply will go a long way toward preventing burnout. Give the gift of a centered, focused presence to your friends and loved ones—you might just enjoy the holidays even more than usual!

Mudra: “Sit with a straight back, bend your elbows, and raise your forearms up and in front of you, parallel to the ground, hands meeting at the level of the heart, palms facing the ground. Fold the thumbs in across the palms of each hand until the thumb tips rest at the bases of the ring fingers. Keep the four fingers straight and together. Face the backs of the hands toward each other and press only the fingertips together. Firmly press the fingertips and nails of each hand together, the upper hands not touching. Deeply inhale and completely exhale.
Breath:  Long, deep, and slow. Repeat a few times and relax. Rest for a few minutes.

Even if it is difficult to hold this mudra in the beginning, after three minutes you will feel rejuvenated and surprise yourself with the power that is within in. The pressure of your fingers stimulates your electric currents and recharges them with vital energy.

Chakra:  Base of the spine—1; Reproductive organs—2; Solar Plexus—3

Color:  Red, orange, yellow.”

Source:  Healing Mudras. Yoga for your Hands, by Sabrina Mesko.

25
October

Dream Cards. Understand your dreams and enrich your life. ~ Strephon Kaplan-Williams

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Featured Card Deck and Quote
Comments Off on Dream Cards. Understand your dreams and enrich your life. ~ Strephon Kaplan-Williams Tagged with

 

I love affirmations and use “oracle” decks to provide a positive boost in the morning or whenever I need a lift.  It’s my way of telling the Universe I’m open to listening to their message:  “Have at it!”  “I’m listening!”  “Tell me more!”  I hope you enjoy as I introduce some of my favorite cards and quotes in my newsletters!  These make great gifts for any occasion as well as can be used as inspirational hand-outs in class if you are a yoga instructor.

I’ve owned this deck for several years. Regular readers of my newsletter know that I love dream messages. I’ve dedicated a couple of my newsletters to dreams. This deck will enable you to work even more deeply with your dreams. There are numerous ways to use these cards. You can use the cards in-depth or keep it basic and pull one card randomly.

The description from Amazon is quite long because the deck is just that comprehensive! You won’t be disappointed! See the Dreamwork2000.com website referenced below for more information and to interact with these amazing cards yourself!

Description: 

The following is taken from the excellent accompanying book with my own additional interpretation toward the end:

“Chapter One

THE MAJOR TOOLS

The Dream Cards package contains most of the major tools you will need to begin your work on your dreams, to learn what they may teach you about your life and your attitudes and behavior in it. The system can be simple and direct in its application to dreams and your life, yet it is capable of generating considerable depth of insight and “right action” because it is also comprehensive.

THE DREAM CARDS

The Dream Cards comprise a deck of 66 square cards, 49 of which have a main central image surrounded by eight secondary images reflecting the central theme of that card. These images come mostly from specific dreams of people who have been active dreamworkers for a long time. Some of the images are from the author’s own meditative state, based on his knowledge of around 10,000 dreams of his own and those of other people with whom he had worked over the past 20 years.

There are seven cards in the seven archetypal suites representing the outstanding energy dynamics of life and dreams. The archetypal suites are SOURCE, MASCULINE, FEMININE, HEROIC, ADVERSITY, JOURNEY, and DEATH — REBIRTH. Their arrangement and relationship to each other, and to the other Dream Cards, forms the basis of his Archetypal Model which is explained in the accompanying book. It is enough to know at this point that the key to the whole system is that archetypal images (symbols) represent specific archetypal dynamics. There is one Dream Card for every major archetypal dynamic, each with pictorial representations of the most commonly dreamed archetypal images or symbols.

In addition to these 49 cards there are ten Ego cards, each of which also carries nine symbolic images, eight secondary surrounding one central. The ego is a particular function in the personality which uses archetypal dynamics but it is different from them in two basic ways.

The ego has choice, the ability to send energy in one direction and not another. An archetype does not have choice. It just exists as a basic building block of the psyche and the universe. The archetypes would go on functioning in various ways whether humankind with his or her ego were around or not. Secondly, the ego has consciousness, the ability to self-reflect, which the archetype does not have. The archetype just is.

The remaining seven Dream Cards are the Personification Cards, each one associated with one of the archetypal suites. Instead of representing one specific archetypal dynamic or “great image” with its secondary images, each Personification Card depicts four mask-like faces or “personifications” attributable to its archetypal suite. The 28 personifications have been chosen as the outstanding expressions in human form of the seven basic archetypes, and represent those most appearing in dreams and cultural expressions. Thus we have four forms of THE CHILD within the SOURCE archetype, four sub-personalities within the larger personality. At various times these roles will be dominant in our behavior, if only for a moment or two.

THE DREAM CARD CHARACTERISTICS CHART

This chart shows the organization of the Dream Cards into the seven archetypal suites plus the Ego suite. For each, a representative primary dynamic is given, along with overall color scheme, symbolic shape, personality trait and choice.

THE WISDOM CARDS

The Wisdom Cards comprise a deck of 66 rectangular cards, one for each Dream Card. Each Wisdom Card is numbered to match its Dream Card and shows its archetype and the archetypal primary dynamic (always shown in capital letters) it represents at the top.” (See below for text, image, and concept copyright notation.)

What follows is my take on the Wisdom cards:

To me, the Wisdom Cards interpret the Dream Card’s message. In my own experience, I round out the interpretation using the intuitive messages the card evokes for me. The cards help you consider possible reasons the dream images have appeared in your dreams. The neat thing about these cards is that in addition to an interpretation, they also provide a “dream-life task” that will help you work with your dreams. How cool is that? You will not only understand your dreams better, but will be able to do something with the messages. I can just hear the Universe sighing with relief. Can’t you?

THE SYMBOL GLOSSARY

The Glossary in the accompanying book contains a wealth of information on dream symbols as well as explains the concepts the author depicts in the cards.

THE DREAM JOURNAL

The author recommends a dream journal, as have I when I’ve shared my dream messages in previous newsletters. When you record what the Universe is telling you, the Universe sees that you are open to the messages and will increase the frequency of the messages in my experience.

Text copyright © Strephon Kaplan-Williams 1991
Dream Cards concept copyright © Strephon Kaplan-Williams 1991
Illustrations © Linda and Roger Garland 1991
Mandala illustration copyright © Strephon Kaplan-Williams 1991
This edition copyright © Eddison Sadd Editions 1991
http://www.amazon.com/Dream-Cards-Understand-dreams-enrich/dp/067173797X

I chose the following example from the “Source” archetype since the symbolic shape was a circle, representing wholeness. It  contains a mandala highlighted earlier in the Meditation on the Go section. The messages also resonated with me. I hope you enjoy!

Dream Card samples Card #1

 

Corresponding Wisdom Card for Dream Card #1  front and back side information:

Centering

Central Image

At the center of centers shines the pattern

Balancing * Intersection * Essence

The center is the fulcrum point around which the opposites unite.

The center creates the universe and all which surrounds it, balancing everything, one totality, the greatest mystery, the ultimate, the place from which the ALL continually takes its being. Through we must see ourselves as a center, our true center is what makes our existence possible. We affirm circles of relatedness. And from our circles we honor center, our place of origin.

Your task is to affirm yourself as a child of the universe, seeking always the balance point from which to live.

Secondary images

  • Altar …Worship, Spiritual Focus

The sacred area has flowers and a whitened shell.

Aimless wandering and endless anxiety come to those who seek not a center greater than themselves.

Humble yourself by focusing on more important things.

  • Fountain…Source, Renewal

Water rises high in the garden.

Source runs full when we are available to it.

Know your thirst, seeking what can fulfill it.

  • Dance…Celebrating, Joy

They move around the symbol of their joy.
We are only fulfilled by what is greater than ourselves.

Celebrate by letting go to others who can help you center.

  • Candle…Illumination, Affirmation

A candle burns at the center.

Evoke center to find your way in life.

Find the value in each possibility you live this day.

  • Meditation…Commitment, Purification

The seeker is burned away by his stillness.

True silence is the one song worth singing.

Let go of everything until you find what frees you from yourself.

  • Apple Core…Simplicity, Essence

The cut apple reveals its core.

It matters less what you do then how you do it.

Be aware of how you do things, not why or for what.

  • Rose Window…Intersecting, Mysterious

The rose window is put into place.

The essence of spirit is to use our lives for what is greater than life.

Ask yourself, who or what is greater than I am?

  • Comet…Originator, Magnificence

The comet arrives manifesting brilliance.

The readiness for anything prepares us for everything.

Find in each day that which inspires awe.

The following is the “interactive” message for this card given online:

1 – CENTER

Your choice is to center yourself within that which has greater value. Why resist when life has so much to offer?

Resisting opportunities because we are stuck in our images of wanting something else is folly. Go with reality, not against it. When you resist you use up your energy. Go with things as they are and create with them. The ego is being tested to follow what is wanted from it.

~

About the author:  Strephon Kaplan-Williams (1934 – 2009) was an internationally recognized dreamwork psychologist and the author of several books on dream interpretation. His Dream Cards became a bestseller in the early 1990?s. Strephon Kaplan-Williams was the first to create the genre of dream cards. In 1978 Strephon founded Journey Press in California to publish the first dreamwork manual ever: The Jungian-Senoi Dreamwork Manual. His other books include Dreamworking, The Elements of Dreamwork, The Practice of Personal Transformation, Dreams and Spiritual Growth and The Dream Alphabet.

Strephon Kaplan-Williams has originated the dreamwork techniques of Objectifying Dreams, Following The Dream Ego, Dream Re-entry, Symbol Immersion and Dream Tasks. He taught his dreamwork psychology processes in California, Great Britain, Norway, The Netherlands, Romania and Canada.

Strephon Kaplan-Williams was co-founder of the International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD). In the last years of his life Strephon established the International Dream and Dreamwork Psychology Association (IDPA). Developing the first training curricula in dreamwork psychology, in partnership with the Romanian Dreamwork Center.

Strephon Kaplan-Williams is the only son of poets, Gene Derwood and Oscar Williams. Oscar Williams was famous in his day in the USA as the best poetry anthologist of his time. Strephon carried on the heritage of love of writing but as an applied psychologist in his own field of dreamwork psychology.

Since 2005 Journey Press is owned and operated by Fotografica Nijmegen in The Netherlands. Journey Press The Netherlands is copyright owner of the Dream Cards in all languages, the Dream Cards Recipes, the Dream Alphabet and also of earlier dreamwork publications of Strephon Kaplan-Williams.

In 2003 in Bucharest the Romanian Dreamwork Center was founded. Strephon’s pupil and later good friend Ovidiu Brazd?u Ph.D., now carries on Strephon’s heritage by promoting the scientific approach to dreamwork psychology and dream interpretation.

In October 2009 Strephon Kaplan-Williams died at age 75 in Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
http://www.dreamwork2000.com/StrephonKaplan-Williams.html

You can buy your very own deck of cards at: http://www.dreamwork2000.com/index.html
This website is amazing!  See the interactive page to participate in your own sample reading, or browse the “Dream Cards Recipe Book” for fun ways to use these amazing cards!
Also available on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Dream-Cards-Understand-dreams-enrich/dp/067173797X

~

In my very first newsletter, November 2009, I highlighted one of my favorite decks—a wonderfully whimsical, inspiring, thought-provoking Enrichuals© deck, created by local author, artist and creativity coach, Suzanne Vadnais Monson.  Refer to this link:  http://betterdayyoga.com/nov09.htm for a sample card.  Suzanne has graciously agreed to let me make them available on Better Day Yoga’s product page online!  http://betterdayyoga.com/products.htm

24
October

Reduce Wrinkles by Decreasing Stress

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Healthy News
Comments Off on Reduce Wrinkles by Decreasing Stress Tagged with

Reduce Wrinkles by Decreasing Stress

Author: Lindelle Jones

Endless amounts of resources and funds have been spent on make-up, anti-ageing products and remedies, Botox and cosmetic surgery. There are more natural and healthy methods of reducing the signs of ageing like yoga, meditation, facial exercises*, getting more sleep and drinking more water.

There is one predominant and common answer to preventing premature wrinkles. Wrinkles are caused by constant frowning or worrying, which creates lines and grooves in the face. In a neutral state our face is relaxed and smooth. Years of worry and stress can produce premature wrinkles. There is an alternative to anti-ageing products, miracle cures and surgeries and it can be applied much earlier than wrinkles appear. This method is called reducing stress and is the most effective way to retain your youthful exuberance.

In recent studies, doctors discovered that there is a correlation between chronic or constant stress to premature ageing. Telomeres are structures in the body that are attached to the ends of chromosomes. These attachments shorten with age. With persons that undergo and deal with stress constantly, these structures weaken much earlier than they should and give the impression that the person is aged. Your face reacts in the same way your body does when it’s stressed. Most people are unaware of this fact. When you are tense your body also releases free radicals, which ages and harms the healthy cells in your body. This results in rapid ageing. Essentially, your facial muscles react to your emotions and show its stress, tension or fear. When you are unhappy, you frown and these create lines around your mouth. When you are angry, your face is firm and rigid which creates crow’s feet or fine lines around your eyes. Every action has a reaction.

Stress etches lines in your face. If you were to look in the mirror while upset, you will realize the lines and furrows that are visible there. Whenever stressed try and think of the positives. This will lessen the tension in your face and prolong those pesky wrinkles. Take life at its natural pace. Overworking your body is not good for you and only causes more stress. There is rarely a need for toxic products and surgical procedures to be administered to turn back the hands of time. Many anti-ageing creams and serums contain many substances that are not safe or healthy for the skin. Eating healthy regularly is the best way to maintain beautiful skin. Botox is usually injected into the wrinkles on the face and helps to smooth them. Botox is a very expensive procedure and needs to be re-administered every five to six months. Collagen injections are most common in anti-ageing and like Botox need to be re-administered over time. Both of these procedures can leave the face very unnatural and makes the skin look like plastic over time.

It is important to remain stress free and happy throughout your young life in order to retain your youth. Stress results in wrinkles and fine lines appearing before their time. Improve your happiness by participating in events, being around family, or practicing a well loved hobby. Happiness will improve your health and your looks. (See the Chakrascope section for simple suggestions for increasing joy during this holiday season.)

http://www.womensarticles.com/article_1683834_23.html

*You probably already know I teach yoga! This is just a friendly reminder that I also teach meditation/breathwork classes as well as facial exercise classes. If you’re interested, please link to my website for more information: http://betterdayyoga.com/schedule

23
October

Spicy Fall Stew Baked in a Pumpkin

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Delicious Recipes À la Christine
Comments Off on Spicy Fall Stew Baked in a Pumpkin Tagged with

One of my dearest friends cooks, bakes, and grills like a professional chef.  She loves to chop vegetables, says things like “ramekins” and has her own tablecloth named after her—The Christine—for purchase at The Palate in Stockholm, WI:  http://www.thepalate.net/.  Preparing food has been her passion since before my husband and I met Christine and her husband, Mark, over 15 years ago.  It has been our good fortune to be the lucky recipients of many delicious meals and absolutely wonderful times in their home.  Since I am all about following our passion, this is my way of letting her have an outlet for hers.  Enjoy!

Filling in for Christine’s busy schedule:

Spicey Fall Stew Baked in a Pumpkin

Vegetarian Times Issue: October 1, 2008   p.67

Nutritional Information

Serves 6

Amount Per :

Calories 221
Protein 6g
Total fat 9g
Carbs 31g
Cholesterol 10mg
Sodium 699mg
Fiber 6g
Sugars 10g
You don’t need a magic spell to turn a pumpkin into the edible serving dish for this satisfying autumn recipe. If you can’t find a large pumpkin or squash, bake this stew in two smaller ones. Serve with Poblano-Cucumber Salsa (Click here for recipe).

Ingredients

Serves 6

  • 1 medium onion, diced (1 cup)
  •  2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)
  • 1 tsp. chili powder, preferably New Mexican
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano
  • ½ lb. tomatillos, husked and quartered (1½ cups)
  • 1 15-oz. can hominy, rinsed and drained
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 1 3- to 4-lb. pumpkin, either sugar pie, cheese, red kuri, kabocha, or buttercup squash
  • 2 oz. grated sharp Cheddar cheese (½ cup packed)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat 1 Tbs. oil in pot over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Sauté 7 minutes, or until softened. Stir in chili powder, cumin, and oregano, and cook 3 minutes more, or until spices darken.

2. Add tomatillos, hominy, ı/2 cup water, and salt. Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, partially covered, 10 to 12 minutes, or until tomatillos are softened. Uncover, and cook 5 minutes more to thicken stew, if necessary.

3. Meanwhile, cut top of pumpkin around stem to make lid. Scoop out pumpkin seeds and strings. Rub inside of pumpkin with remaining 1 Tbs. oil, and sprinkle generously with salt. Sprinkle cheese in bottom of pumpkin.

4. Fill pumpkin with stew, then top with pumpkin lid. Place on parchment-covered baking sheet and bake 1ı/2 to 2 hours, or until pumpkin flesh is fork-tender. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes.

5. Scoop stew, including pumpkin, into bowls and serve hot, topped with Poblano-Cucumber Salsa (Click here for recipe).

Return to http://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/food/recipes/recipe/10829

22
October

Mandala. Circle of Chant by Terry Oldfield & Soraya

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Featured Yoga Music/DVD
Comments Off on Mandala. Circle of Chant by Terry Oldfield & Soraya Tagged with

This month’s focus is on circles. My “Meditation on the Go” section featured mandalas as a form of a meditative circle. This album is one of my absolute favorite CDs by one of my favorite musicians, and it features a mandala on the cover and in the title. Mandalas were introduced earlier in the Meditation on the Go section as a form of meditation.  I own many of Terry Oldfield’s CDs and absolutely love each and every one of them. His name is one I associate with being able to purchase it “sound unheard”. I don’t need to sample it because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt it will be excellent! His wife’s accompaniment is breathtaking!

Product Description:

Interwoven with the magic of Terry Oldfield’s Indian Bansuri and silver flutes and Soraya’s enchanting voice, this album has been created with the intent of sending positive vibrations that can unite people from all races, cultures, and religions. A devotional mixture of Indian-style Kirtan music joined with moving beats, equally great for meditation or for celebrating life.

2005 Narcissus Award, Album of the Year, Winner

About the authors:  Terry Oldfield is a world-renowned artist whose profoundly inspiring music has touched the hearts of many. Terry’s unique ability to bring the spirit of nature into his compositions enhances the soulful and meditative journeys his music explores. A two-time Emmy nominee, he has composed music for film and television, as well as multi-cultural music to accompany yoga, meditation and the healing arts. He currently lives in Australia with his wife and partner in music, Soraya Saraswati. http://www.amazon.com/Terry-Oldfield/e/B000APYA7O.

Soraya is an International Inspirational Workshop facilitator, Naturopath, Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Musician and Writer with 30 years experience. She lives on the Sunshine Coast in Australia in the foothills behind Palmwoods with her composer musician husband Terry Oldfield and two of their nine children. Together they travel and share their music and workshops in Europe, Australia and the US, inspiring people to reclaim their personal power by releasing the shackles that hold them bound to the past and express their uniqueness in a loving way to the world. Read the full bio at: http://www.terryoldfield.com/bios/soraya.

You can hear the full CD during one of my yoga classes, or listen to clips and purchase it for your own listening pleasure at:
http://www.amazon.com/Mandala-Circle-Terry-Oldfield-Soraya/dp/B0017LGP0A. Also see:
http://www.amazon.com/Terry-Oldfield/e/B000APYA7O , as well as:
http://www.terryoldfield.com/

21
October

My first in the series of “Cosmic Numerology” articles for Yogamint has been published!

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Magical Events at Better Day Yoga LLC
Comments Off on My first in the series of “Cosmic Numerology” articles for Yogamint has been published! Tagged with

At Vita Bella we offer a holistic approach to revitalize your whole being by addressing the mind, body, emotional and spiritual self.  Services include: aromatherapy, brain gym, emotional release, yoga, meditation/breathwork classes, and facial exercise classes.

Exciting news! 

Do you need a home base to provide your holistic health service to the community?  Do you have a passion for health & wellness?  Vita Bella Health & Wellness Center offers beautifully decorated, fully furnished common areas, ample free parking, easy on/easy off highway access in a quiet, Little Canada neighborhood.  Ideal for acupuncturist, ayurvedic practitioner, chiropractor, massage therapist, etc.  Come meet your future colleagues and start or expand your holistic health career today!  Serious inquiries only, please contact Sandy at 612 708 6900 or Kari at 763-785-4600.  Rent starting at $250/month.

“As I find you here again;
A thought runs through my mind; Our love is like a circle;
Let’s go ’round one more time.” ~ Harry Chapin