Monday, September 28, 2015

The Beauty of Our Hair


Our hair is not only our crowning glory, but it is also informs us about the world around us.  It triggers our nervous system in ways that are beyond our ordinary levels of perception.  Please enjoy this short video about the added benefits we can derive from allowing our hair to grow.

© Josephine Laing, 2015

Monday, September 21, 2015

Letting Go of the Ground We Stand On

Allyson said that mom introduced her to Janie tonight.  Mom has been in Hospice since May and has, as they used to say on the farm, "taken to her bed," since July.  There is no one that we can see in her room, but she is talking and visiting away in there, all night long, most nights.

There have been days, many of them, where it seems that she is passing right on throught those pearly gates.  But then the next day, just like the "Energizer Bunny," she pops back up with a healthy appetite and has two eggs with a couple of pieces of bacon, some toast and a quarter of a cantelope.  Later that evening, it's breaded shrimp with coctail sauce. 

She always was a good cook and has a fine appreciation for American cuisine, including ice cream, which is how she gets her meds down to ease her pain and make life a little easier for her Hospice caregivers, the ones who do their share of the heavy lifting.  Such a blessing.  One among many. with Allyson leading the stellum, lighting the way for us all.

It's not easy to die sometimes.  Just like there are difficult births, that stand out in contrast to the easy ones, there are also difficult deaths.  How does one let go of this dear old friend, the body?  I don't know.  I wish I did.  Because, if so, I might be able to help mom to say bye for now.  But I do feel that there is an elegance, and certainly an astrological significance, to the timing of our deaths, just like there is a significance to the timing of our births.  So, I give it all over to Divine Arrangement, knowing that there it rests in the best possible hands.

In the meanwhile, we the living do what must be done.  We select caskets, arrange for headstones, yesterday we bought the mortuary plot, today we crafted the obituary for the home town paper.   We also ate watermelon.  A little sweet with the sad.

I'll leave you with this poem, by Ranier Maria Rilke.  It is one of my favorites and pretty much sums it up for me.  I hope that it speaks to you as dearly as it speaks to me.

The Swan

This clumsy living that moves,
lumbering, as if in ropes,
through what is not done,
reminds us of the awkward way the swan walks.
And to die,
which is a letting go of the ground we stand on and cling to everyday,
is like the swan
when he nervously lets himself down into the water
which receives him gayly,
and which flows under and after him
wave after wave.
While the swan,
unmoving and marvelously calm
is pleased to be carried,
each moment more fully grown,
more like a king,
farther and farther on.

© Josephine Laing, 2015

Sunday, September 13, 2015

How Energy Flows Through Our Bodies

When our energy is well tended, it rises and flows and recirculates through our bodies.  During the course of our days, we often extend our energy to others.  This can be a beautiful thing, so long as we learn how to disengage when it is appropriate to do so and thus manage our energy field wisely.  Enjoy this short video on how to maintain a healthy energetic flow.

© Josephine Laing, 2015

Monday, September 7, 2015

Free the Breath, Free the Life

Breath is life for us oxygen breathers.  And breathe we must.  Some of us are shallow breathers, some of us are deep breathers.  Whether we breathe too much or too little has an effect on the quality of our life, especially if it is too little.  

Many of us remember our mother's saying, "Stand up straight," or "Tuck your tummy in," or "Put your shoulders back."  These commands plus ideas that blossomed out of ubiquitous thoughts of teen aged self-consciousness like, "My butt is too big," or "I don't want anyone looking at my bust," can all result in holding patterns that adversely affect our breath.  They rob us of room to breathe and when we pinch our breath, we pinch our lives.  

There is a very fancy medical term called, "The Zone of Apposition."  (ZOA)   Very mysterious sounding isn't it?  But the definition of Apposition is "close together" or "side by side."  And the zone of apposition in the body is the area just below our diaphragm, the large plate-like muscle below our lungs, that contracts when we suck air into our lungs.  As it relaxes, with the exhale, the muscle fibers lengthen and the diaphragm rounds and rises up into the area just below the emptied lungs.  When the diaphragm relaxes in the ZOA, it forms a dome.  

The ZOA or zone is thus an area inside our bodies where all of our internal organs sitting close, move up and down, with our breath.  As we inhale they all drop down with the contraction and shortening of the diaphragm muscle into it's plate-like shape.  And when we exhale, they all rise up into the dome area of our lengthened and relaxed diaphragm area, tucking in sweetly, up below our emptied lungs.

Not only is our breath our life, but our movement is our life too.  So, when we pinch and push and hold, sticking our butts out or tucking them under, we lessen the amount of area available in our bodies for our organs to move.  The is especially true when it comes to holding patterns in our upper bodies, like pinched, cast back or elevated shoulders or a pushed up and out chest.  Typically when we do this, we are holding tight.  And chronically tight muscles not only restrict the movement of our organs and our life, they also result in chronic pain.  

Just getting regular exercise can do a lot to help free all of this.  Swimming, dancing and playing tennis all involve lots of different balance and body movement patterns.  Really great athletes are often very free to move in their bodies.  Many athletic endeavors create lots of freedom of movement.  But there are some that might not.  Weight lifting, football, and boxing come to mind.  Whereas wrestling, skiing and fencing leave us more free to move.

Massage is great for releasing stuck and hyper-vigilant muscle groups.  Stretching is good too.  When we keep ourselves limber, we keep all the rib muscles moving and we stretch the diaphragm too.  Various body work techniques can help us to recognize and then free our holding patterns when we have them.  I like the Alexander Technique best of all.  It is based in the subtle sensing of which muscles are chronically and unnecessarily tight, and then once they are identified, it teaches us to gently free them and let them go.  Yoga is good too, but if you are not aware of where you are holding, you can tear.  So becoming aware is a good first step.  And we can do this in part by observing the breath to see if it is free.

So I invite you to give this some time.  Sit in a chair in front of a mirror.  Watch your chest move.  Let the breath fill the rib cage.  See if it fills as it should, like a balloon, all at once.  Do your lungs fill equally in volume?  Do they fill simultaneously?  There was a time when mine didn't.  I had to re-learn how to breathe.  Just like blinking our eyes, we can bring this under our conscious control.  

To get started, try bending over and let your lungs rise up into your back.  Then bend to the right and fill your lungs to the left.  Do the same on the other side.  Think of the dome, and the ZOA.  Relax.  It feels good.  And then give yourself plenty of room to breathe with a nice big sigh.  My love to you and to your next breath, may it help to free your movement and your life.

© Josephine Laing, 2015