Updated: Dec 15, 2020
About Water and Eggs
Science teaches us of the difference between physical and chemical changes. If we put water into the freezer, it becomes ice. The water has gone through a physical change because its molecules have been rearranged, but this change is temporary. If we heat the the ice, it will turn back into water.
However, if we crack an egg and throw it into the frying pan, a chemical change takes place. The egg will not ever go back to its liquid state. As I have observed our response to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, I've marveled over how deeply we are connected to the surface issues: wearing masks, washing hands, social distancing, struggles with educating children at home, working from home, missing family and loved ones, etc. Granted, these issues are important and must be addressed, but from the holistic perspective, no true healing or lasting change can occur unless we have the courage to dive into the deep waters of the root causes.
We believe to know the physical reasons why the virus has spread. But nothing exists on the physical plane alone. Have we stopped to ask ourselves about the mental, emotional and spiritual reasons why we have found ourselves in a worldwide push to hit the reset button? What has happened to us mentally when we become so excited about making money that we accept lower sanitation standards and do not invest the resources required to ensure public safety? Those in the business of flying airplanes, selling movie tickets and filling up stadiums are having to rethink how business is done and, if it is to survive, what their work will look like in the post-pandemic world.
What has happened to us emotionally that we find it easier to dive deeper into anesthetizing ourselves with alcohol consumption, social/multimedia bingeing, overeating, sexual or other addictions/distractions than to take the time to heal past traumas? Do we even realize that holding on to our past traumas (i.e. unforgiveness, resentment) cause us to unconsciously act out and bring more of the same drama into our lives, causing more trauma? When we anesthetize ourselves, we are seeking short term "feel-fullment" which is sort of like heroin. It gives a jolt of instant relief, but it fuels the ego which is never satisfied and controls us by always beaconing for more. "Feel-fullment" leads to a life of cyclical drama, insecurity and pain - the type of pain that is passed on to others which causes more pain. It may be scary to dive into our emotions to heal them, but processing and transmuting them is the path to liberating ourselves from the grip that they've had on us so that we can take our power back and achieve true fulfillment.
Do we seek to understand and give spirituality the respect that it deserves through commitment to improved behavior? Going to church, attending spiritual retreats and workshops, reading spiritual literature, praying and meditating are all great ways to support our spiritual lives, but we hide behind these practices if the insights that we gain are not metabolized within us and put into practice on a continual basis to cause active engagement in the present moment and ongoing transformation in the way we think and behave. For example, if we find ourselves getting into the same types of relationship patterns or making the same financial mistakes over and over again, then we are hiding behind or within spirituality instead of learning the lessons that our spiritual practice is attempting to teach us.
The spiritual path teaches us the art of self-correction. When I was taking my first exam to become a Qigong teacher, I was amazed to learn that while I was expected to know the form, I was graded on my willingness to correct myself on the spot. As I taught the Qigong form, I was constantly interrupted and told what to do to adjust my posture or teaching style. I was graded on my ability to stay humble, take the correction while maintaining my focus and, most importantly, seamlessly repeat the movement by incorporating the correction that I had just received. There was no time for me to deal with my pride, ego or feelings getting hurt - no time for self-righteousness. I had to take the correction and continue the exam. Students who were unable to self-correct in this way did not pass the exam. I now have an even deeper understanding of the wisdom that lies beneath that experience. Spirituality exists in what we choose to say and what we choose to do in moments of peace, temptation and chaos throughout each day. It is our inner wisdom that tells us to make the better, higher choice and our ego that ignores that wisdom and tempts us to repeat habitual patterns of self-sabotage. Rickie Byars has a lyric in a her song, A Radiant Faith, that says "there's no hitchhiking the highway, you gotta do the work." I have had many clients that just want to take an herb or meditate, but they don't want to change their behavior.
Changing our behavior is the purpose of our spiritual practice. What are we doing to stay grounded and centered so that we can make the decisions that enliven our spirit, clean up, heal and release our past and make better decisions moving forward? It can be challenging heart work that is tantamount to chopping wood. It takes effort, persistence and presence. The reward is everlasting fulfillment that no one will be able to take away from us.
So let's go back to water and eggs. COVID-19 represents a chemical change that has happened throughout the world. Our eggs have been cracked and fried. Though we resist and protest, we cannot go back to the way things were before the pandemic. We are being called to change. This change is not just about washing hands, social distancing and waiting for a safe and effective vaccine. If we are not looking deeply within ourselves, asking challenging questions, leveling up our spiritual practices, forgiving our pasts and the misdeeds of others, releasing trauma, healing our relationships through transformative conversations, apologizing for our transgressions, taking responsibility for and improving our behaviors, healing our bodies, mastering presence and engaging in deep contemplative thought, then we are under the delusion that our lives can change while we stay the same. As Dr. Michael Beckwith would say, are we holding on so tightly to the way things use to be (as if pre-COVID times were like a typewriter), while refusing to see the potential co-creation of a better world (as if our new unknown is like the rise of computers)?
The Winter Solstice Opportunity
We have lost too many lives to this pandemic for us to keep on living the same old way. If we go back to "business as usual," these lives will have been lost in vain. Nature has been with us all along, offering subtle suggestions to help us re-establish balance and find our way back to ourselves. There is an intelligence that maintains the balance in nature, along with all who exist in the natural realm. If we struggle, it is because we refuse to acknowledge the genius within this intelligence and we work against it instead of choosing to engage in contemplative collaboration. We think we are smarter than the energy that created us, yet the trees will be here long after the pandemic has passed.
The winter solstice occurs December (in the Northern Hemisphere) and June (in the Southern Hemisphere) 20th, 21st or 22nd of each year. During this time, one of the earth’s poles is titled as far as possible away from the sun, creating the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year.
From a spiritual perspective, the winter solstice is the optimal time for contemplation, spiritual rejuvenation, revitalization and taking inspired actions. Think about how things grow in nature. A seed needs to be surrounded by soil in complete darkness. That darkness offers the seed the proper environment for a transformation to occur which educes that seed’s potential and allows it to evolve and grow in the spring.
How Will We Choose to Move Forward?
What we choose to do during the winter solstice will be magnified because the environment is perfect to nurture whatever seeds (showing up as our current physical, mental, emotional and spiritual behaviors) that we plant at this time. What will we choose to do? We know what happens when we keep doing the same thing while expecting different results. This winter solstice offers an auspicious opportunity to plant the seeds of powerful change - the type of change that creates a better world - the type of change that begins from within us.
In the holistic healing world, we do not separate mental, emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing, but for the sake of additional clarity, I will offer a few suggestions within each category for working in collaboration with nature to reset our lives so that we can emerge strong in 2021. Even choosing to do just one practice in each category will cause a healing shift in our energy. Although the optimal time to engage in these practices is just before and during the winter solstice, any time during the winter season is helpful. Some people may choose to engage in holiday celebrations and then start these gentle healing and cleansing practices in the New Year.
Physical Healing Practices
Beginning on the 15th of the month (preferably earlier), eliminate all breads (including gluten free), flours, pastas, alcohol, nuts, caffeine, nightshades (eggplant, peppers, white potatoes, tomatoes, paprika), chocolate, dairy, baked goods and saturated fats. This is to prep for the cleanse by beginning to take the pressure off of the liver/gallbladder. And yes, I know that I'm asking a lot during the holiday season, but we are in a pandemic, and we need to take responsibility for our collective healing. As we will not be in large gatherings to tempt us to eat unhealthy foods, now is a great time to focus on healing ourselves and (if our cup is full and we have more than we need) assisting others who may be in need of support.
Begin a routine of eating melons for breakfast with a pinch of cayenne. Prepare one melon chopped, and add 1 tablespoon of cayenne, stir and store in the refrigerator (omit the cayenne if pregnant). Eat one cup of this mixture first thing in the morning and at least 20 minutes before eating any other fruit or food. Any melon is fine. Melons contain superoxide dismutase, a powerful anti-inflammatory agent which defends the body against free radicals.
Create a nourishing kichadi stew and eat it throughout the day. Eat it for lunch and dinner as often as you'd like. Five small servings throughout the day is preferable (with the last serving ending by 7pm). It takes 3 days for your body to realize it is cleansing, so make and eat kichadi for at least 5 days (a few days before, during and after the winter solstice). Make different variations to avoid boredom (but keep in mind that boredom comes from a lack of present awareness - when we are in the present moment, we are never bored).
Drink 1/4 to 1/2 cup of inner fillet aloe vera juice (organic, low/aloin free) each morning and evening (Lily of the Desert in the glass bottle is the cleanest that I've found). Start first with 1/4 cup. If bowels are not too soft, work up to 1/2 cup.
Take a food based probiotic each morning or evening (feel free to take more if you are not making at least one large bowel movement per day).
Mental and Emotional Healing Practices
Be still – practice silence (no speaking at all) for at least 2 days during the solstice.
Shut down social media and take a break from watching the news.
Practice the Radiant Breath Awareness exercise.
Practice healing movements to assist in the removal of toxic emotions.
Journal often. Review what is working in your life and look at how you can expand your perceptions.
Surrender to the excellence within you. Review what is NOT working in your life and release sabotaging behaviors, foods, people, relationships that no longer serve you.
Spiritual Healing Practices
Create or extend your morning routine.
Take long walks in nature.
Increase the amount of oxygen that you breathe into your body through breath/movement exercises such as Qigong.
Take warm bath of Epsom Salt + Baking Soda + Sea Salt (add at least 1 cup of each) for at least 30 minutes each day.
Spend time in silent contemplation. Learn to transcend thoughts.
As always, be well and be radiant.