Monthly Archives: May 2012

A feeling of belonging

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We all like the feeling that we belong – that we are part of a group, whether that be in school or work, with our family or friends, or our communities.  Children initially belong within their families, and, when they are very young, they accept their family’s way of doing things as the way. As we grow older, we learn that there are so many different ways of doing everything in life.  And this is where judgements can start to creep in.  We may still like to believe  the way we have been brought up is the right way.  Or we may admire someone else’s approach to life and adopt it wholeheartedly.  As parents, we can try to encourage our children to be accepting of other traditions and values, and to keep an open mind.

The sense of belonging is a comfort in difficult times.  No-one really wants to feel different to everyone else, or to feel as if nobody understands them.  But how much should we compromise our own inner guidance in order to fit in with our chosen group?  We all have an innate sense of what is right for us,  and the challenge is to adhere to that without judging someone else’s views as inferior or wrong in some way.  As we grow spiritually, we begin to see ourselves as belonging more widely –  not only all humanity but the whole planet and universe are one.  We remind ourselves of this every time we are tempted to set ourselves or others aside by our strong attachment to our own way of doing things, and we allow ourselves to lighten up.

To belong is to feel secure.  The sense of belonging is associated with our base chakra, mooladhara,  the chakra concerned with our sense of security and stability in life.  With our ability to weather the storm, and to withstand life’s ups and downs.  When our security is challenged, we may become fearful and depressed, unable to see our way out, and this can often happen when we feel rejected by a group with whom we have identified, or when a phase of our lives comes to an end and we are literally removed from a group – for example, when we leave a job,  a school or a relationship.  It can also happen when we move home, leaving the familiar and the comfortable and starting again somewhere new.

At times such as these, it is important to work on increasing our sense of security through our work on mooladhara.  This can be done through grounding yoga asanas, such as tadasana or trikonasana, feeling the ground beneath our feet.  The beautiful Dru yoga Earth sequence, Prithvi Nasmaskara, particularly when done outside, is wonderful for enhancing our sense of belonging, our sense of oneness with everything around us.  Connecting with our breath in pranayama and meditation can also help our sense of embodiment, of being safe and secure within our bodies.  Getting out into nature is another way to connect with mooladhara – exercising outdoors in the fresh air, going for a walk by the sea or in the countryside, or doing some gardening or cooking, can all help to enhance our sense of wellbeing, and our sense of belonging in our world.  When we moved home, I really started to feel settled when I went out into the garden with my son, picking rhubarb from a huge clump we had inherited, and then cooking it together in a lovely sticky cake. Amidst the boxes still waiting to be unpacked!

When we feel strong and grounded through our base chakra, we are more open to the changes that will occur throughout our lives – we feel less threatened by the movement of our lives.  As  Mary Burmeister, who brought Jin Shin Jyutsu to the West, used to say, “movement is harmony”.  Without movement, without change, we stagnate, we get stuck.  The movement of our lives keeps us fresh; change keeps us engaged in our lives with vitality and interest.  We let go of phases of our lives we have outgrown, and develop and grow with our new circumstances.  We are more able to take risks and to move into the unfamiliar.  To feel that we belong, not only in the past, not only in some imagined future, but right here, right now.

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A sense of wonder

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Last week I saw a rainbow forming  a perfect arc in the sky.  As I watched it fade, I thought of Blake’s poem which expresses so beautifully the sense of wonder a rainbow inspires in us:

My heart leaps up when I behold 

A rainbow in the sky:

So was it when my life began;

So is it now I am a man;

So be it when I shall grow old,

Or let me die!

The child is Father of the man,

And I could wish my days to be

Bound each to each by natural piety. 

~ William Blake

Every time I see a rainbow, I experience this same lifting of the spirits that Blake describes;  a joy and wonder at the beauty of this earth we live in.  We could explain the rainbow scientifically, as so much else in this modern age, but I don’t believe that scientific understanding diminishes the beauty or the splendour of the natural world.  However logically we explain the phenomena of rainbows, clouds, sound, or tides, they remain a marvel, in the true sense of the word.

I recently wrote a post describing the wonder that our children show for the world around them, and how we can learn from them as adults.  This is what Blake touches on here, as he asks that he may never lose his sense of wonder, even as an old man – ‘Or let me die!’.  Let us try to maintain – and even grow – our fascination for the natural world.  Let us find the time to pause and truly notice our surroundings.  Once, when I was attending an intensive training week for a new therapy team,  we all rushed in at the start of the day, except one wonderful therapist, who took just a moment, just one small moment, to stop and breathe in the scent of a flowering shrub by the entrance.  To be fully present in the moment before embarking on another day of lectures and discussion. To notice something which the rest of us had missed in our rush.  So I ask, as Blake did, that I never forget to notice the splendour of our world in the rush of daily life.  That I may pause to take a conscious breath, and to wonder at the little things that make such a difference to our lives.

The rainbow also reminded me of a talk I attended many years ago, when I had recently embarked on my career as a therapist.  The talk was given by an author, Brenda Davies, about her book ‘The Rainbow Journey’, a book about the seven main chakras.  As a new therapist, and having not at that time embarked on my yoga training, my understanding and experience of the chakras at that time was sketchy, and so the talk was utterly fascinating.  Since that time, I have studied the chakras through further reading, and by experiencing ways of working with their energy, both on a personal level and through my yoga and therapy work with clients.  I have written assignments on them and have embarked on a book of my own.  The wonder and fascination of the chakras, our own inner rainbow, will never leave me, and I hope to write more about them in future posts. With every training I have taken over the years, in yoga, in reflexology and in Jin Shin Jyutsu, I have experienced the same excitement and wonder that shows me I am on the right path.  I hope to always listen to that intuition, and to never stop wondering about the world.