Moon Lesson • It's just Thunder, Deer (nope, that's not a typo)
In this modern age, we look at a calendar or ask Google to confirm when the summer solstice occurs. But, not too long ago...the native people of this country would listen for the first roll of thunder. The Full Thunder Moon is so named because it marks the time when thunderstorms are most frequent. This moon, with all its bravado, announces the arrival of summer. Additionally, this time of year is also when the new antlers of buck deer push out in a crown of velvety fur, so this moon has also been called Full Buck Moon.
In our modern lives, the roll of thunder mirrors just how we burst out of our "regular schedules" into our more playful attitudes. It has always struck me as strange that we think of autumn and winter as our "regular schedules" or "normal lives" while spring and summer are our "breaks" from life. I suppose this is just more proof that the seasons, the rhythm of beginnings and endings, and the cycles of the moon truly do have an impact on our way of being. But, what else can we learn from this Full Thunder Moon?
In my own practice of honoring beginnings and endings and cycles and such, I've made a habit of purposefully sitting down to reflect more broadly on how I've been living this life twice each year — once around the turn of the year and again at the break of summer. With Thunder and Buck at my side the mantra is: Be brave. Be bold. Be true. Be you.
Remember, it took me 13 years to recognize and respond (rather than react) to the patterns in my life. So I was just thrilled to see how a summer time reflection aligns with our study of the Eight Limbed Path this month.
Svadhyaya is our focus this month. Svadhyaya loosely translates to "self study". The slower pace of summer provides a natural opening for checking in with your self, by your self. Maybe reviewing the intention you set for yourself at the beginning of this Journey. Flip through your journal. Look through a lens of truth, without criticism, how are you doing? What have you released? What have you picked up? And what would you like to see more of as you continue your Journey?
Not having any answers is okay too. Often the realization that we don't have any answers is the first step in recognizing that we haven't taken a good look at ourselves in a long while. It's ok. Just choose to look now. Be brave. Be bold. Be true. Be you.
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Yoga is the study of self.
Yes, yes...yoga includes asana (the practice of poses), pranayama (the practice of purposeful breathing), dhyana (the practice of meditation), etc. All of these Limbs are perfectly prescribed tools to help further your study of You — to help you obtain mastery of your highest self. A Master's Degree in [insert your name in big bold letters here], if you will.
You are a canvas without edges. You have amassed a number of beautifully intriguing, mysterious, gripping, sobering and delightful layers of paint. Some of these layers you feel came together beautifully, while other layers you may wish you could rework and even others you might feel are just a muddy mess. But because your canvas has no end, you have the tremendous responsibility of continually adding new layers. At this point in your journey, what I hope you realize is this: you are the canvas AND the artist — you decide what your work of art will actually look like. You control the brush, the choice of paints, the light, the dark, and the shadows. You are the master and the masterpiece. You can't determine how other people will view your life's work. You can't force them to see it they way you intend. But you can command every stroke of your life with love from this point forward.
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Consider the spirit of the young Buck Deer. Deer reminds you to not to be too hard on yourself — to still the voice of your inner critic and to view each stroke on your canvas with a gentle eye. Deer encourages you to be yourself and continue along your path even though the road ahead may be obscured by trees, shrubs, and even shadow. Deer can see between shadows and hear what isn’t being said. She teaches us to maintain our innocence and gentleness so we can share our open-heartedness with others. Take this time out of your regular schedule to refine your inner treasures and use them generously to help those around you. Trust that kindness and graciousness will be well received.
Finally, although Buck will defended itself and family with a thunderous clap of clashing antlers, Buck reminds us we cannot push towards change in others, rather we gently nudge them in the right direction with love and understanding. Lead by doing and showing the way.
Now consider the Teacher archetype. Teaching is the art of communicating knowledge, experience and wisdom. I already mentioned that you are the canvas and the artist. And I gotta tell you, when it comes to the subject matter of You, you are also the student and the teacher.
A fair and just Teacher will evaluate their student based on that student's own merit rather than by comparison. An insightful Teacher will take mistakes and turn them into lessons rather than hold them over the student as punishment. A humble Teacher will acknowledge when the student has surpassed the Teacher and celebrate that moment with joy and pride. A Teacher who believes in their student will continue to nudge that student in the direction of their best selves. What traits are you willing to bring forth from your inner Teacher on behalf of your highest Self?
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One of my favorite Hindu deities is Ganesha. Ganesha is easily recognized by his elephant head and human body, representing the soul (atman) and the physical (maya) respectively. He is the patron of writers, travelers, students, commerce, and new projects and he is rather fond of sweets, often to his own detriment. Who can't relate to that?! In art, Ganesha is often depicted carrying a broken tusk, an axe, a ladle, a noose, prayer beads and a tray of sweets. Ganesha is often depicted riding Kroncha, his giant rat, famed for its agility and also symbolic of the god’s ability to circumvent obstacles. But what's truly special about Ganesha is that he is known to be both the bringer AND remover of obstacles.
So the story of how Ganesha came to be is this:
Ganesha is the son of Shiva and Parvati and he is the brother of Karthikeya (or Subrahmanya), the god of war. He was created by his mother using earth which she moulded into the shape of a boy. As Shiva was away on his meditative wanderings, Parvati set her new son as guard while she bathed. Unexpectedly, Shiva returned home and, on finding the boy, and outraged at his impudence in claiming he was Parvati’s son, Shiva (as he has been known to do when in rage) lopped off the boy's head. At the commotion, Parvati ran from her bath and was furious with Shiva for so summarily killing their son. Repentant, Shiva ordered a new head to be found for the boy and, as the first animal available was an elephant, so Ganesha gained a new head and became the most distinctive of the Hindu gods.
Ganesha is known for his intelligence and wisdom. A great testament to his cunning is how he came to marry Buddhi (Wisdom) and Siddhi (Success). Ganesha set up a challenge with his brother, Karthikeya, that whoever could first encircle the Earth would also find a bride first. Not wasting a second, Karthikeya swiftly mounted his blue peacock and immediately shot off around the world. Ganesha on the other hand, went directly to his parents’ house, embraced them and quoted the line from the sacred Vedas: “he who embraces his parents seven times (pradakshinas) gains the merit of encircling the world seven times”. Declared the winner, Ganesha promptly married not one but two daughters.
Ganesha also has something of a reputation for greediness or over-indulgence. One day, after eating a few too many modakas (sacrificial cakes), Ganesha decided to take a ride on his giant rat, Kroncha, to aid his digestion. However, the rat was surprised when he came across a large snake and, jumping back with fear and threw Ganesha off his mount. Ganesha landed on his full belly and it burst on hitting the ground. The cakes from his stomach rolled left, right and centre but Ganesha, unperturbed, carefully gathered them in, stuffed them all back into his belly and wound the snake around his midriff to keep it closed. Symbolic of Ganesha’s ability to overcome all obstacles, the snake, the cause of the accident in the first place, therefore provided the remedy for the damage it had caused. But there's more...
Continuing on his ride with a snake for a belt, Ganesha heard a thunderous noise from the heavens. The Moon and his wives, the twenty seven Constellations, were laughing and unable to contain themselves on seeing Ganesha wrapped in a snake. Outraged, Ganesha broke off the end of one of his tusks and hurled it at the laughing Moon. It landed and the Moon was struck black. Without the light of the moon, the dark nights became treacherous and the good people pleaded with the gods to restore the silver light. The gods asked Ganesha to forgive the Moon. He offered forgiveness with a condition. So to this day, the Moon only gives his full light in cycles.
This walking contradiction that is Ganesha is my favorite because he reflects our human condition so purely. Our ability to get in our own way, to create and fortify our own obstacles, and then to upturn everything and work our way around those obstacles...all the while placating our physical selves with treats while our soul struggles to find the best way out. That's just it — we can get in our own way, but we can lean on our inner Teacher to bring ourselves back into the light. Be bold. Be brave. Be true. Be you.
Moon Time Exploration
Adventure - Personal Responsibility
My aim is to introduce 'personal responsibility' with a fresh perspective. We often think of responsibility in terms of "adulting" or in relation to what we do for the people we care for in our lives.
This Journey is about reclaiming your sense of self through spontaneity and adventure. It's designed to remind you that You are also a person you care for. This month, commit to putting a few really unique strokes on your canvas. Take some steps to figure out what you actually enjoy, what you like to do for fun, and what your actual rhythm is when there is no interference.
Read through the entire exercise before beginning. Materials needed: your internet connection, a very small budget, your journal, and a pen
5 min Journey Practice
The Tale of Mrs Adventures
I invite you to consider a focus for your personal study for the remainder of the summer. This isn't a test. This is an opportunity to really put some of these new practices to work for you. Who are you? What do you like to do? What truly brings you joy? And what tools do you use to pull yourself up by your bootstraps when you've hit a wall?
Here are a few more questions to get you thinking:
Have you begun to notice when you are more energized and able to focus? Sometimes that moment is when you chose to dive into your Journey work here. This is your natural rhythm, your cycle, and maybe you decide to chart the peaks and valleys of your energy or mood for the remainder of summer. See how it aligns or doesn't align with the full and new moons.
Have you noticed that you've incorporated a few small practices into your life? Maybe your self study is about carrying that personal practice into your family life. Often times we discover something that really lights us up and we don't share it with our loved ones. Maybe your self study is about finding a way to "sneak" (let's say translate or transform) some of your favorite practices from the last several moons into something your loved ones can "get" and enjoy as well.
Have you noticed when you feel most drained? What has your response been in the past? Maybe your self study is about paying careful attention to when you're drained and choosing to use one of our pranayama or poses to regain your footing. Write about it in your journal. Maybe you've recognized that what you truly need are small doses of fun to nourish the archetypes you've been exploring. Maybe your self study is about getting in a weekly dose of fun. What do you like doing? And if you don't have an answer to that question. That's fine. Keep reading below.
If you are still sorting out what you actually like to do. Try this playful, adventure filled exercise. Visit Groupon.com and head directly to the activities section for your neighborhood or a neighborhood you've always wanted to explore. Set a budget of $10 - $20 per activity.
Without much more than a passing glance, select 2-3 never-been-done-before activities to try. Some examples are painting, bowling, knitting, darts, archery, pottery, jewelry making, herb identification, magic, improv, whale watching, time at a batting cage, etc. It doesn't really matter. All that matters is that you've never explored this area or activity. If the idea of doing a particular activity or visiting a particular place makes your stomach flutter...that's the one you need to select.
This is self-study. Pay attention to what gives you pause, what gives you butterflies, what makes you roll your eyes, what brings up doubt. These are all signs that your highest Self is waking up and taking notice. The more you peak your interest, the easier it becomes to tell the difference between when you're truly "present and awake" in your life or have fallen quietly into a routine that is now so worn that it's actually a rut.
Trying new things can be a bit daunting for some. If that's you, you are welcome to grab a friend, your partner, or head to our private Facebook group and put it out to our group to see if anyone might care to join you on your mini adventure. As adults, we often forget that we still need new input to keep us fresh, focused, and fulfilled. Without new experiences we stagnant and begin to lose touch with the world around us. And worse, we can lose sight of who we are and what we actually "like to do". This month, your journal entry should focus on your misadventures that might lead to a very simple self study.
If you need help, email me. Be brave. Be bold. Be true. Be you.
Bridge pose aligns and opens all seven chakras and flushes your endocrine system, giving you that boost of energy and clarity to go after your interests.
Your pranayama this month is actually a kriya. This is a fantastic practice to help clear your head from critical and limiting thoughts as well as clear your belly of tension.
This mudra is used to inspire and help you access freedom. More often than not, its our misplaced belief that "we can't" that prevents us from truly being free.
Just in case you missed it - Playbacks and Worksheets
Carol had asked about the difference between chakras and channels. This is the chart I was referring to when I spoke about how the chakras align with particular clusters of veins that nourish specific organs. Channels are more like the roads of delivery for our energy.