Right Meditation

This morning I watched a quick vimeo provided by Kelly Brogan MD, who is a holistic psychiatrist, and a most inspiring health pioneer of our times.  In her vimeo, she mentioned her belief that none of us can truly thrive without a consistent meditation practice (here is a link to her vimeo for those who are interested: Kelly Brogan).  In my 14 years of yoga practice, I must admit to being a late bloomer at meditation.  Although in hindsight, I realize now that my consistent yoga asana practice served as my moving meditation, I’ve come to appreciate the value of a seated/still meditation practice as complimentary to a movement practice.  The contrast of the two provides insights that neither practice on its own brings to fruition.

What I have found most useful for a “successful” meditation practice (which, for me, means committing to daily practice) was the letting go of any preconceived notion on what “successful” meditation, or right meditation, was.  I had previously believed that right meditation meant not only being still with my body, but also stilling my mind.  With that mindset in place, its no surprise that I ALWAYS felt I was failing at meditation.  However, when I came to realize that, for me, right meditation simply means observing my thoughts, busy or otherwise, suddenly I was successful at it.

Meditation can simply mean to intimately observe our self.  The act of committing to a set amount of time to solely be with our selves is nothing short of a deep and meaningful act of self-kindness, of self-love.  Furthermore, to invest in the simplicity of getting to know the Self, free of any intention to judge, change, modify, or adjust is to participate in social activism, be the change.  What would it be like, for you, to spend 5 mins, 20mins, with yourself, non-striving to be anything other than what you are, in each moment.   For me, to simply BE: self-aware, self-intimate, is right meditation.

And, quite honestly, it has been such a relief, just Being.  This daily act instills in me a sense of “I am OK, just as I am”, in an embodied, experiential way.  It is unsustainable to seek that confirmation outside of ourselves: reassurance that we belong, that we are acceptable, or worthy when we are our true selves.  It is dis-empowered, and risky practice to outsource that inner need.  It is sustainable, and self-empowering, to resource it internally, and 5-20mins of self-acceptance meditation might just be the cure that only you can gift yourself…and the research proves its efficacy is more potent than almost all prescribed medication out there for mental illness…ask Kelly!

Who knew we were so powerful!

“I knew what was essential for soul-tending was silent presence: the quiet spaciousness that allows insights to emerge, and ghosts to take shape from the recess of the shadowed garden” -Sept 25, 2016

20151003_091305

Concretizing the Metaphor

I’ve been reading the book: “Dancing in the Flames”, by Marion Woodman and Elinor Dickson.  This book has been very useful for me as I’ve tried to better understand what it means to embody soul work, and how to integrate what I do on a spiritual level in psychological and physical terms.  These two authors are masters at weaving the wisdom of the magical principal in a way that pays tribute to the poetic uniqueness of subtle work, all the while not loosing touch with the reader who perceives the world more comfortably from a linear, logical, and more rational perspective.  For me, one of the greatest gifts I’ve harnessed from the book is what it means to EMBODY versus CONCRETIZE the metaphors that surface as teachings in our life.

Even the sounds of these words suggest an intentional difference.  Embody is soft and round, melodic and shapely; the word concretize is hard and sharp, absolute and cutting.  One sounds harmonic, the other cacophonic.  The difference in sound lends to their difference in function: to embody is to bring holistic awareness and growth into your whole being: body, mind, heart, and soul; to concretize is to instead let the potential teaching take shape as a painful drama happening to you, or outside of yourself.

Here’s an example.  Let’s say you had this clear sense that you needed space in your life, you felt it from the inside out, a yearning for more, but not quite sure exactly more of what.  When we concretize the experience of needing space we fail to understand it is a metaphor for something needed within.  If we don’t consider that the desire is telling us something about our inner world, we will instead interpret it as coming from our external world: as in, perhaps feeling fed up with our relationships, or our jobs, or the size of our house.  We feel hemmed in, constricted, like we can hardly breathe, and we assure ourselves that ” if only I fix…the house, the relationship, the job”, all that live outside of the self, the feeling of constriction or yearning will go away.

Concretizing the inner need often leads to unnecessary pain, suffering, and drama, for ourselves and for others in our lives.  It also generally doesn’t resolve the inner tension of needing to self-express and self-expand, which means down the road the issue will perennially surface until we skillfully learn to resource and resolve it.  Its not that concretizing is bad and embodying is good; in the end of the day, they are both simply choices we can make.  Each choice brings about new information that can lend itself to our growth, our capacity to discern, and the next series of choices to act on in the future.

If, however, we’ve come to realize that the inner experience is a call for inner growth, we can choose to embody whatever metaphor is surfacing.  Choosing to embody is choosing to own the awareness from the inside out.  We can start by reflecting on “what is this feeling telling me about my inner world? About my Self?”  In the “I need space” example, often there is the need for more space for the authentic Self, our individual Self-expression, in our life.  Resourcing this need is hardly ever resolved through external world modification, we need to expand from the inside out, in order to resolve the inner tension.  Finding resource to nurture and grow our sense of Self is what we tend to be looking for.  The specific answer for how to express that sense of Self is best if born from an embodied awareness (yes, this is where yoga therapy, or art therapy, or therapy in general can be useful), but often practices such as journaling, expressive art classes, dancing in a self-expressing way, creative writing classes, or anything that starts to open the door to our individuality, is what will feed our souls.

How is this connected to my Camino?  Well, there were healthy, resourceful aspects of my Camino, that were examples of embodiment, and then there were unhealthy, unresourceful aspects of my Camino, that were examples of concretization.  Healthy aspects were how I realized that each step on my walk helped me embody the metaphor of consistency, and patience with engaging my process; and also of setting goals, following through with them, and eventually arriving at my destination.  Unhealthy aspects were not recognizing my hunger for the divine feminine within, and essentially for my Self, and mistakenly seeking that nourishment though the excessively abundant, and not-very-good-for-me rich food along the Camino (including a lot of red wine).

The beauty is that either way, in the end, I made progress (at times through regression), but ultimately learned and grew; However, a third way to learn is not only through our own trials and errors, but vicariously through the sharing of life lessons offered by those who’ve gone before us.  So, for whatever it is worth…

Thanks for reading.

“I can’t help but wonder: what would the world look like if we assumed our life was a gift and we believed that we deserved it?” -Sept 24, 2016

20150930_114118

Metaphors for Transformation

I was recently asked about my shamanic practice, and how it relates to my work as a yoga therapist.  My Camino post of the past year-to-the-day “Quantum Shifting Camino” is a good example of how I integrate shamanic paradigm with life, and ultimately with my healing practice; and the intentional engagement of metaphor sums it up.

Two years ago today, I walked out of a valley of darkness, sat and wept at the foot of Mary, and eventually crossed the “Queen’s Bridge”, in Puenta La Reina.  Of course, as fate would have it, I’m also from the “Queen’s City”, Regina (sounds like Ra-ji-na…not Ra-gee-na), which is home to the longest bridge over the shortest body of water.  What does all of this mean?  Well, the beauty of self-empowerment is that what is means to me is what truly matters, as it was my Camino, and to engage metaphor for transformation I am the one who needs to perceive my life in a transformative and resourceful way.

Life is loaded with metaphor, in fact, perhaps life is only metaphor.  Current science informs us that particles/waves of information are sensed, and then interpreted by our consciousness, and the resulting translation being what we understand (or stand on) reality with.  Seeing/sensing is believing, AND pre-conceived notions/rut-sacks/beliefs can also determine what our consciousness translates as seen/sensed.  (Remember the “count the number of basketball passes” video that had a gorilla walk through the screen and you completely missed it because all you were focused on was PAYING (or investing) your attention to counting passes…this is a great example of collapsing on the reality you were expecting/looking for/investing in).

Shamanic work is an conscious and intentional engagement with the unsolvable, but responsive mystery.  What is spirit, subtle body, soul??  I don’t know, and I would never assume to be able to solve the essential nature of that mystery.  But, I respect it and am willing to learn how to responsibly engage with the reality of it.  For me, metaphor is my best way of understanding and engaging with spiritual/subtle layers of reality.  I appreciate that using my imagination/active thinking mind to construct through imagery and story-line, I am participating with the seed of reality: engaging creativity.  I also respect the laws of nature, and the dynamic tension, that pre-fabricated/woven/dreamed reality (aka matter) demands.  We can dream all we want, with a certain level of consequence, but if we do not marry it with choice-in-action, than that the dream/thought/seed struggles to find ground, take shape and come to fruition.

If I’m struggling to sound clear, it is likely because I am still working at finding language to frame what still generally feels elusive and lucid to me.  And I accept that.

Anyhow, today when I reflect on my Camino-in-Writing, even more so than I saw last year, I see the profound magic of the metaphors along my walk.  I see that today I was walking THROUGH shadows, greeted by the divine feminine I was waiting to claim in myself, and eventually embodied that integration by crossing the Queen’s Bridge.

We could live life void of metaphor and meaning…but for me, it would be a soul-less one, and I’d be left starving.  Considering the abundance of beauty flowing from the cornucopia of life, I see no need to go hungry.

20151014_150303

 

Helping Sort the Rut-Sack

20151013_153446You read it correctly, the rut-sack.  This is the pack that carries all our long established and well trodden paths that we misperceive as super-highways, but instead are actually snag-ways.  It is also the place where we hide all our shadows, burdens and big dreams that, if dealt with holistically, carry the charges for our greatest potential.

In my post of one year ago “The Equinox”, I talked about the joy I experienced on the Camino helping others thin out their backpacks.  As I reflect on that joy today, I realize it truly sums up why and what I do as a professional: I love to help others lighten their load through their journey of life.

Helping others heal is a process of helping them become whole.  Sometimes, in the healing process, we learn there are parts of ourselves that we have inavertedly left astray, behind, or denied that simply need to be recognised, retrieved, and integrated.  Other times, we discover the reasons for our feeling burdened, confined, or hemmed in is that we are in fact carrying excess baggage, often in the shape of self-denial, self-rejection, self-hatred, and self-betrayal that painfully bar us from our authentic, self-compassionate, and much lighter selves.

As a yoga therapy professional, my goal is client empowerment, which means I never set to task identifying, and/or eliminating (in the case of “extra” burdens), and/or retrieving (in the case of missing parts) anything on your behalf.  In other words, I never diagnose, analyse, or provide treatment (my work as a shamanic practitioner differs in this way, more on that later).  I do, however, help you to identify and learn to treat yourself!  My skill is knowing how to support you through a process of self-awareness and self-empowerment, where you learn to recognize for yourself the hindrance barring your potential, AND realize the specific power you have to do something about it.  That is what it means to live a  self-directed life.  Sometimes the “doing something about it” is as straightforward as “taking 15mins to myself to meditate every morning”, or “taking the stairs at work”, or “telling myself I’m worth it before I start the rest of my day”.  These are examples of simple and pragmatic choices that, when born from a deep and embodied place, make clear the steps that will lead us towards a self-actualizing life.  So, at the end of the day, my work as a yoga therapist is walking alongside you, as you learn to lighten your load, on your personal Camino.

Sometimes, what emerges in a yoga therapy session is the simple fact that we need help.  Which, for some reason, is one of the hardest “action steps” to name.  Why is naming our need for help so difficult? This of course, is a whole other, and very much so worthy blog, that I am not going to endeavor to write this morning.  However, I would like to flag it.  Brene Brown comes immediately to mind as an incredible resource for making the case about the importance, and essential strength of being vulnerable and dscerning when to ask for help.

When it comes to physical ailments and illness we seem relatively comfortable, as a collective, to seek necessary help.  But boy does it get loaded when it comes to facing our need for psychological, emotional, and spiritual help.   How do we deal with our emotional burdens, our mental blocks, our energetic adhesions?  These more “subtle” layers of our being are no less worthy, and no less in need of support, healing, and tender care.  Surely in this age of quantum mechanics, psychoneuroimmunology, and ecology, all grounded in the familiar and reputable language of science, we can lean in and listen to more than what simply meets the eye.    Likely these are aspects of our collective and personal selves that still live at the bottom of the rut-sack, cast of as shadows we are near ready to recognize and integrate as our own.  

Good news: we don’t have to go it alone!  And, if I haven’t made it clear yet 😉, I’m happy and honored to walk alongside you on your whole-being healing, personal Camino way ❤️.

Here’s the post link from 2016: http://wp.me/p65l41-gE

Walking with our Shadows

“I wrote about how that which seems wrong and painful is often responsible for uncovering one’s limitations and ignorances, and thus worthy of thanks.” -Sept 21, 2016

Shadows, what are they and why do we have/need them?  Last year when I wrote my second “Camino in Writing” entry, I was trying to articulate what catapulted me on my walk, and why it was essential in transforming the hindrances in my relationships, most notably with my self.  I was also trying to express the attitude of gratitude I discovered I needed to have for my “enemies”, my shadows, that inspired my walk.

Our shadows are simply unconscious aspects of ourselves that are not acknowledged/accepted by our selves, thus lending to inner tension, and most often outer turmoil, before we are ready to OWN and integrate those aspects of ourselves.  Shadows often show up for us in the shape of other people we have strong feeling towards, whether those feelings be of attraction or repulsion, hatred or lust.  These other people served as mirrors for our shadow material, though until we recognize their service as reflective catalyst, we tend to unwittingly demonize or idealize them.

Though I am all up for the self-empowering practice of discerning whether a person, and more so a relationship with them, serves to heal or hurt us; I feel it is at least as important to recognize that although people can make choices that adversely or positively impact us, more often the power and choice of response lies within us.  How we relate and respond to the weather systems blowing through our personal universe is a power no being other than “I” can cultivate and grow.

If an individual triggers a REACTION versus a RESPONSE from of us, especially if it shows up frequently as a patterned reaction to similar circumstances, then there is a strong chance the exchange (and not necessarily the person) is simply highlighting for us a personal shadow.  And, considering the very nature of shadow material is that it is hard to see on our own; we can come to appreciate the incredible gift and usefulness that others help us become conscious of our hidden baggage by reflecting it back at us.  Painful or otherwise, they help us to open the rucksack (or rut-sack as I like to call it) and start doing our laundry.

I can’t help but recommend a great read “shadow” resource: “Meeting the Shadow: The Hidden Power of the Dark Side of Human Nature”, edited by Connie Zweig and Jeremiah Abrams.

Happy trails!

20140831_083601

 

 

Two years ago, today…another Camino anniversary

Of course, without a little help from “Facebook memories”, I likely would not have remembered the exact date I set off from Australia, en route for Spain to walk the Camino.  Although I treasure and embody the memories, and lessons, from my Camino, today I generally find myself happily occupied in the present moment, busy with everyday life.  Unlike last year, I no longer feel haunted by remnant, undigested material from my past adventure, and thus I do not feel the need to go in, and go deep.

Nonetheless, here I am.

Taking another anniversal approach to remembering, and sharing a bit about my reflections, is a way for me to pay homage, one last time, to my 31-day walk of 2015.  A little twist this year, after each day’s reflective post, I will delete the previous year’s Camino-in-Writing blog entry… so, if you haven’t read it yet, and really want to…don’t delay😊.  Deleting each entry, one day at a time, feels an appropriate metaphor for my intention to use this year’s process to not only revisit, but let lie the adventure of the past.

20150920_074159

Leaving Brunswick Heads, heading for Pamplona via Gold Coast, Via Madrid!

If you’re keen to read the post from a year ago, it’s titled “A Camino in Writing”.

A New Mythology?

This post was shared on my Yoga In The House blogspot last July, and I felt inspired to now share it here.  It’s a quicker-than-most share:

I’m starting to learn about a new paradigm, a new mythology. This learning is taking shape and being informed and inspired from workings and explorations within and without of my self. Serving as a useful metaphor, I literally keep WAKING UP hearing the song “We Don’t Need Another Hero”, by Tina Turner…

Times are a changing, the world is evolving and revolving (as we all are)…Heroes come from a paradigm of fear, of monsters and villains… In Tina’s song she sings of “love and compassion hav[ing] their time”.  For me, this is suggesting the new paradigm and a new mythology; something we may not know yet, but are inspired to dream about and imagine. This new paradigm is a time without villains or demons, without anything to defend against or slay. Many of us may not yet be able to fathom such a reality, but I’m starting to see/feel/hear glimpse it, and am feeling good cause to set sail guided by it like a North Star. This new story looks like a rainbow, it sounds like a bee, it tastes sweet like health, it feels like safety, it is abundance; if it feels unreal it’s only because it’s waiting to Be.

Everything you see around you took shape first in the imagination…I believe this new paradigm is a dream worth dreaming. We are at a turning point, the old mythology is turning under, experiencing its autumn, and here we are a collective clean up team: tasked with our own healing work, tasked with undoing trauma lines and wounds that have snagged us for too long, carried forward like false gods of fear and suffering that give rise to competition, comparison, judgement and hierarchy. This new reality is one that embodies partnership, cooperation, creativity, equality AND diversity, beauty, ease, harmony, peace. We can do it!!! I know we can!! We’ve done it before!!! So do it again!! Let’s go team living!! Sorry, what’s a Jenelle post without some flaming dorkiness!

Love you😍☕️😘❤️💚💖💓

Oh, and one last thing. We don’t need hEROS, we need EROS….who is Eros you ask? Why he is Cupid, son of Aphrodite, he is the new divine masculine, his bow and arrow are NOT used to slay or defend, why instead they are used to UNITE lovers!! My kinda masculine!!! And check out the story of Psyche (soul, daughter of Aphrodite) and Eros marriage. The journey of Psyche to become fully realised and conscious feminine! I know I’m now contradicting myself, suggesting an old story to inspire the new paradigm…but perhaps this story was a seed/pearl that was sowed a long time again that has been undergoing its own alchemical and timely evolution to bring about change…the time is now my loves! Dream on!

K, peace

Purity as an Experience Void of Shame?

My most recent blog…via You Tube video!  In this blog, I am sharing thoughts around the concept of purity and how it is perceived, or misperceived, in ancient texts such as the Yoga Sutras and the story of Immaculate Conception.  Feels like an edgy share, which must mean it’ll be interesting…

Of all the Seasons, Change is the Hardest to Stomach

20151011_104018Change, although one of the few certainties in life, appears designed to derail us. “All was going well, everything running smooth, as it was before, and then suddenly everything changed. Now I don’t know up from down, left from right, A from B”. Sound familiar? Although each life is lived differently, most of us can relate to feeling frustrated by sudden, unpredictable change. Be it the loss of work, home, or relationship status; our kids growing up, our parents getting older, our bodies changing shape; or even changes in the weather, traffic conditions or presidential election results. Change can feel affronting, sudden and, most upsettingly, out of our control. We can feel interrupted, unprepared, or even violated and disregarded. But, if change is one of the few reliable aspects of life (certainties in life: we are born, we change, we die), why then is it so difficult to face? Why do we yearn for the predictable and orderly? Why do we resist this inherent flow of change?

Without presuming the capacity to answer the “why” of these questions, I’m going to suggest instead we step back, and curiously observe them, all the while being empty of expectation for answers. What happens when we just look at our experiences of frustration with change; when we look at the questions concerning our resistance to change?

From my own personal experience, when the desire to solve the mystery of “why” is relinquished, and an open-ended curiosity is engaged, a surprising reality surfaces: the power of choice and a softening of suffering. We may never know why change happens, or why we crave order over chaos; but, we can choose how we relate to all these experiences, to all these questions. We can even choose how we perceive the events of change, and then we can choose how we respond to them. But this, like all skills, takes practice. And this is what Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy (PRYT) is all about. (Which is one of the study programs I am currently engaged in).

Supporting holistic opportunities for clients to cultivate awareness of the now, and of how they perceive and relate to their life experiences, are some of the few objectives a PRY Therapist has. PRYT facilitates the opportunity for clients to see themselves clearly and then to make informed choices based on what they see. Therapists will never tell you what to do, or give you advice, but instead will help you to realize the answers are within.

I was drawn to PRYT as my life experience told of the truth of its methods. My life had proven to me time and time again that resisting what was happening only made matters worse, and that choosing instead to be with, be curious about, and make informed decisions, were more likely to lead to a life inspired by trust, versus controlled by fear. Although I had heard of PRYT five years prior, through my Pain Care Yoga Training with Neil Pearson (a PRYT graduate as well as a Physiotherapist and Pain Scientist), it wasn’t until I found myself walking the Camino Del France, just over a year ago, that it became clear to me I wanted to integrate PRYT as a professional offering.

Leading up to my walk, I had been experiencing what is oft called a mid-life crisis. And, regardless of how common place it is to hear about, when you are in the proverbial mid-life crisis I can assure you it feels anything but common. Accordingly, it was painful and I didn’t like it, but regardless of how I felt about it, it was upon me. I had just relocated from Canada to Australia, the dynamics of my 14-year marriage were changing, my professional orientation was undergoing a significant shift, and two of my three children were themselves coming of age, which implicated my relationship with them greatly. This wave of change felt massive and fear of it lurked in all corners of my being. It felt as though life was demanding I surf when I hadn’t even properly learned how to swim. Feeling I was at the top of a cresting tsunami, fear threatened to take me down, crashing along side it. Would I make it? What was happening? And, why me?

Thankfully, I encountered this mid-life crisis with nearly a decade’s worth of yoga practice behind me, meaning that although I felt so close to the transformative fire that I was burning, I had enough experience in spacious observation to save me from feeling hopelessly overwhelmed. The spaciousness of mind my yoga practice afforded facilitated two crucial choices in my mid-life crisis: 1) to choose trust instead of fear, and 2) to breathe (especially to exhale, and slowly). And so, with that in heart and mind, I jumped right into the oven of my life and just kept breathing.

Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy is appropriately named after the legend of the Phoenix. The story of transformative power is that of leaping in, stepping up, and embracing the intensity when trialed by fire. There is no doubt that it takes courage, and thankfully we don’t have to go it alone, at least not all the way; but the story of the Phoenix is about trust in transformation, faith-filled engagement with the changes life presents, especially when faced with our fears. PRYT practitioners can only do their job well when they have unconditional positive regard for not only their clients, but also in the greater story of life, and all the change promised of it. This doesn’t mean we’re working to find the silver lining or to sugar coat painful experiences, this means we truly believe that clients have within themselves exactly what it takes to engage and meet their lives, take up the transformative crux presented to them.

The upshot of this, of course, is that as a PRYT practitioner (in training) I also believe clients have within themselves the capacity to ask for help, which is why I offer my services. We’ve all been there, when what we needed most of all was to be supportively witnessed: held, heard and resultantly soothed. But unlike your appropriately intended and wise mother, PRYT practitioners do not offer this support with a disposition of caretaking; they instead offer it as a skilled response to your capacity and wisdom to ask for help when you need it, which often takes the greatest courage of all.

There are times when going it alone is the wisest and most necessary option, and there are times when asking for help and support are equally skillful and essential. The truth of what you need and when lies within, and a PRYT practitioner helps you discernibly hear the precise wisdom amongst that clamber.

I am a Yoga Educator, embarked on my Phoenix Rising credentials, as change and life have taught me that being open to and curious about my struggles, instead of denying or resisting them, is more likely to allow for surprising and uplifting results. There is a saying that “suffering = pain + resistance”. This saying does not suggest that pain is avoidable, but that suffering is. Perhaps change is inherently painful, or perhaps its not, who knows? But regardless, we can rest assured that resisting pain will surely make it worse. Engaging the intensity and mess of my life with open-ended curiosity and trust has uncovered strength, courage, empathy, connection, adventure and brilliance I would never have imagined existed within the small frame I call me. PRYT did not teach me this, I travelled the much less efficient and much more expensive road of a mid-life crisis to unfurl the Phoenix within. And although I am grateful for my unique journey, 20/20 hindsight has certainly inspired me to invest in the professional skillset necessary to hold space for those who have the wisdom, courage and readiness to ask for help when they need and want it.

I’ve chosen to be a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapist as it puts to good use my embodied trust in life, death and change. Trust is the essence of my work, to hold compassionate and wise space for those laboring their own transformation. Dancing within life’s intense flames is when the blessing of being perceived in our strength and beauty matters most. This is a dharma I am honored to fulfill, as life has afforded me trust in transformation, and PRYT training the refined skillset to do it well. I am not a Yoga Educator because I believe I can get rid of people’s pain, but because I believe I can support you to realize empowered change and vital presence; to ultimately discover the passionate, thriving and brilliant Phoenix within.

Re-Train the Chew

In savoring the last few weeks (hopefully months) of practice in my three-season “treehouse”, I’m starting to notice the sights and especially the sounds of the changing season. The sound of dry leaves blowing down the tunnelled pathway along my house, the cooler breezes whistling through the opened treehouse window, the multi-colored effect of surrounding trees with changing leaves and ripening berries, all fill my senses.  I’m sorry to say if the passing of summer sits heavy on your heart, but fall is just around the corner with the Equinox on Sept 22.  I’ve always relished the fall with days cool enough to inspire wearing comfortable layers and warm enough so that any exposed skin still feels hummed by the sun.  Another reason I love the end of summer-beginning-of-fall (and aside from the relief I feel due to the kids heading back to school) is the return of lifestyle rhythm and the resulting willpower I find to take on a cleanse.

Yes, end of summer is a brilliant time to cleanse; the changing of our external environment is well paired with changes to our internal environment.  To be sure, entraining  ourselves with our beautiful, and always on time Mother Earth, is a wise and simple way to stay well.  Get outside and feel the difference in the wind, air and dwindling warmth of the sun, you can simply sense: IT IS TIME!

There is no absolute right way, or even best way to cleanse.  Expert knowledge currently suggests that we should listen to our own guts, hearts and heads when feeling  into choices surrounding our health. And I truly mean feel into your health. The wisdom lies in your own intuitive felt-sense as to what and when you’d body is asking for change. Of course, common snags are the confusing signals generated by unhelpful yet all-to-common addictions, such as sugar cravings. This is where the practice of wise discernment comes in, but that is a discussion for another blog.

The truth is, when it comes to our health, most of us have inherited the cultural practice of seeking expertise from outside of ourselves. This practice has cost us not only our intuition, but also our time and money, as we source knowledge from others on how to be well. The good news is that we can change this limiting pattern by simply turning the looking glass in on ourselves. When in need start by paying attention to how your body FEELS, and then LISTEN to your own thoughts about your sensations. Your answers are within, you’re smarter than you likely thought, the trick is making this your habitual and confident practice (wise discernment getting another mention here).  Intuition, like all skill development, takes practice, so be patient, be persistent, and above all be kind to yourself while you retrain. Let renewing your capacity to self-reflect, self-respond, and self-honor be a joyful, patient and curious endeavor…who knows what you’ll discover you already know.

And of course, seeking help or advice from health experts is still useful, especially while retraining the art of intuitive living (I mean, it better be or I’ll be out of work!).  But truly, health professionals nowadays are only really being of service when they not only impart their professional wisdom but also empower clients to reclaim their own inner knowing.

So, on that note, here is the number one expert advice I’m taking for my cleanse this fall:

Re-Train the Chew!

Proper chewing is better than taking digestive enzyme supplements, it prevents and relieves damp conditions in our bodies, and helps to ward off pathogen and parasite build up in our gut microflora!  Who knew the chew was so important? Well, Paul Pitchford did, as it is his advice I am following.

Of course I’m only following this advice as a result of realizing, once paying attention, that I am really a poor chewer. What the heck! I totally value food, food prep, good ingredients and family time over dinner, but I do not thoroughly chew my food…at all!! Why is this? Well, once paying attention this is what I noticed:

I spend so much time being mindful of my kids’ meals (which is a nice way of saying “micro-managing them) that I am not adequately chewing my own food. Instead of adequately chewing and peacefully swallowing my food, meal times looked like: “How many veggies has he/she’s eaten”, “Wait a minute, did they even finish their lunch/afterschool snack before sitting up to have dinner?”, “No darling, we don’t play with toys at the supper table”, “Yes son dear you can have 30mins of screen time after dinner. No wait, have you finished your homework?” “Oh really, is that what happened at school today?”, “Son dear, don’t say that to your little sister, she’s only 3” “Could somebody please get your little sister a glass of water?” “Yes honey, I can cut your meat up for you”, “Should we have company over this weekend?”…and so on and so forth (I know many of you can relate).

Without a doubt, I have high expectations of my role as mother to help keep my three children healthy. I feel our modern times demand nearly a fulltime job out of sorting healthy from unhealthy-yet-culturally-the-norm practices. And although I believe it’s the good fight to take up this task, upon further reflection I can see that something at the dinner table needed to give. My boys are 13 and 12, and though my daughter is only three, she has more than just me to help keep her on track and provide healthy role-modeling.  Micro-managing meal time practices are not leaving enough time for chewing presence; it is time to bring my focus back to myself and its going to start with the chew.

As mentioned above, the simple advice to chew thoroughly comes from Paul Pitchford and his book “Healing with Wholefoods”.  Now, to be honest, some of Paul’s protocols are pretty intense, though always thorough. He is well experienced, trained and practiced, and I trust his advice. However, as I now tend further from extreme paths than I used to (being a mother requires I let a lot of air out of the tires) I didn’t feel inclined to strap myself in for one of his extensive cleansing protocols. Instead, it was whilst leisurely perusing his list of cleansing essentials that I struck feasible cleansing gold: “It is essential to avoid overeating, and to chew all food thoroughly.  The most available and low-cost remedy is proper chewing.” (bold my own addition, page 659).  The “proper chewing remedy” hit me square as: a) it’s affordable, b) it’s manageable and c) its a practice I’m proving poorly at.

So, aside from several other measures I have decided to practice for my 2016 Fall Cleanse, the one that I feel will be most impactful is retraining my chew.  And, an interesting side-effect so far: less stressful meals.  By redirecting my attentional focus back to my own chewing process I am resultantly butting out of my kids’ meal management. Mommy’s busy chewing, figure it out. And thus, I’m swallowing a little bit of my own previously mentioned advice: healthy change is affected by shifting attention away from outside back inward on one’s self. And assuming it’ll come full circle, my kids will thus hopefully learn to rely less on outside expertise (such as from their all wise and knowing Mother) and instead will listen to their own inner knowing.

So, Happy Chewing, Happy Cleansing (if you so choose) and Happy Fall!

With Love, Jenelle

Side note: of course, I am still ensuring only good, healthy options are available for mealtimes…it’s not all cake and French fries here.