Thursday, 28 March 2013

Smudge Cleansing

Smudging plays a central role in traditional healing ceremonies because it is believed that once unwanted ~ negative ~ energies are cleared out, a sense of balance may be restored and peace and harmony assist in putting difficulties to rest.

Smudging is an effective ritual that helps to cleanse and purify ourselves and the spaces we live in and use, but it is not a quick fix cure-all.
Think of it as spiritual ‘soap’ that helps to cleanse us or an area, but when there is too much ‘dirt’ or you keep doing things that attract the ‘dirt’ it’s effect will be limited.
When we create toxicity in our lives, we poison ourselves as well as others and the environment around us. Ultimately it is best to correct the underlying problem.

When we discovered how to make fire, people noticed that different things produced aromatic smoke when burnt. Woods, herbs, roots, resins and barks are changed from their ~ physical world form ~ by the element of fire into smoke ~ spirit world form. This transformation is seen as evidence of the spirit within substances.

Throughout history aromatic plants have been used in the daily activities of people from every culture. Christians, Hindus and Buddhists all burn incense in churches and temples to assist the act of prayer and meditation. And of course, Indigenous cultures have used Sacred smoke to cleanse, purify and in prayer and ritual for millennia.

The connection between people and plants is being forgotten in todays technological, Man-made, synthetic world, as we drift further away from the ways that connect us to the plant and animal spirits we share the earth with. We are losing our understanding of the physical things around us that connect us to the spirit of life.
Smudging is a common practice among Native American people for the cleansing of energy through the burning of White Sage, Cedar, Sweet Grass and Tobacco.

What you will need 

A Shell ~ abalone ~ or fireproof bowl with a little sand in the bottom, prevents it getting to hot to hold
A Feather* ~ a large one ~ or you can use your hand
White Sage ~ or a combination of White Sage, Cedar, Sweetgrass and Tobacco ~ a smudge stick or a bundle of herbs tied together may also be used.
Matches or a lighter.

* It is traditional to use a bird’s feather to brush the smoke over the person or object being smudged. Use the underside of the feather to wash the smoke over the person or object, for it is the underside of the bird and its wings that face the Mother Earth as it flies and it is this surface of the feather that offers the blessing medicine of the bird.

How to Smudge

1. State your Intent for the purpose of this ritual and thank the spirit of the plants and the fire for assisting you - you may do this aloud or in your minds eye.

2. Combine the plants you will be using and place them in a bowl/shell and light them.

3. Use the feather~hand to blow out the flame, but keep fanning to keep it  smouldering.

4. Smudge any other medicine tools that you may be using later ~ drum, rattle etc 

5. Draw the smoke towards your heart, then over your head.

6. Sweep the smoke down your right arm and back up to the shoulder, then the right hand side of your body and right leg and foot towards the ground.

7. Repeat as in step 6. but working the left hand side instead, starting with your arm.

8. Offer smoke to the four directions. Which are north, south, east and west. Below to Grandmother Earth and Above to Grandfather Sky.

9. After you have smudged yourself thank the Spirits of 'All Our Relations' for assisting in this process.

To do a cleansing on another person, begin by looking into their eyes for a moment to 'greet' them, then repeat the same method that you used to cleanse yourself and move in a clockwise ~ sunwise ~ direction around them to Smudge their back as well.

To cleanse objects, smudge them moving sun-wise around them whilst sweeping them with smoke.

To cleanse rooms or spaces, close all the doors and windows before you begin. Follow the step by step instructions above and Smudge yourself first.
Then smudge around the room~space in a clockwise ~ sunwise ~ direction and pay special attention to the corners of the room where energy can stagnate and also doorways and stairs where energy moves from one place to another.
Remember to thank 'All Our Relations' for their assitance with this cleansing.
The following day you may need to tidy up and get rid of unwanted items, If this room~area is a cluttered place, then regularly open doors and windows to blow out the 'cobwebs' that catch and hold onto unwanted energies.
Sacred Plants

White Sage is used for healing. The smoke is used to bless, cleanse and heal the person or object being smudged. Sage is used to “wash off” the outside world when one enters ceremony or other sacred space.

Cedar is a medicine of protection. Cedar trees are very old, wise and powerful spirits. Cedar is often used to cleanse a home or apartment when first moving in, inviting unwanted spirits to leave and protecting a person, place or object from unwanted influences.

Sweetgrass is burned to remind us of essence of the feminine, it represents Mother Earth's hair and that the earth provides us with everything we need. The smoke from the sweetgrass promotes positive energy and good and happy thoughts.

Tobacco was the first plant given by the Great Spirit. It is used for Prayers, requests and thanksgiving. It is held in the left hand ~ the hand being closest to the heart ~ and talked to. Thus its smoke becomes the bearer of our Prayers to the Creator.

Lavender is often used for invitation of the spirits. The name may be derived from the Latin 'lavare' ~ to wash or 'livendula' ~ meaning bluish. There is a legend that the clothing of baby Jesus was laid upon a lavender bush and acquired the fragrance. Some Christians still regard the scent of lavender as a safeguard against evil. Burning Lavender is best done on Charcoal Tablets.

Copal is sacred to the native peoples of Mexico, as it is a gift 'pleasing to the gods.' Because copal is the blood of trees, it is offered to honour the enormous gift given to us by all of the tree people of our planet. Burning Copal is best done on Charcoal Tablets.

Frankincense and myrrh were considered to be more valuable than gold. Used to embalm the bodies of the Egyptian Pharaohs, this tree resin is considered to cleanse and protect the soul. Frankincense is said to ease depression and promote clairvoyance. Burning Frankincense is best done on Charcoal Tablets.

Myrrh is said to help one maintain a state of enlightenment. It also connects one to the spirit of youth and clears the path of debris that stands in the way of one’s truth. Burning Myrrh is best done on Charcoal Tablets.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Relaxing The Mind ~ Simple Meditations

So why would you want to meditate anyway ?......

Relaxing the mind and releasing stressful thoughts is the best 'medicine' you can give yourself.
It has many positive benefits on the physical body, the emotional states and mental thought processes as well as enhancing Spiritual connections.

People often say that they cannot meditate even though they have tried, they seem unable to make their minds 'Go Blank' and find their mind wandering and so they end up thinking of other things instead, or find that they've ended up falling asleep if they have tried to do it lying down.

Perception of meditation ranged from 'Sitting Cross Legged' in Yoga positions ~ that they found uncomfortable ~ to 'Chanting like a Tibetan Monk' which would make them feel self conscious and they didn't really understand the concept of at all.

So the idea that meditation is complex and difficult can often be because their first experience wasn't in a style that suited them, and so they gave up trying.

Discovering that meditation can be done in a variety of different ways and finding a method that suits you, is just like finding your favourite dessert, you simply pick up the spoon and try them all until you find the one or two you like more than the others. You may even find you quite like a few of them.

Here are a couple of simple and effective ways to relax the mind and meditate that can be done in a few minutes and like most things that we learn, regular practice makes us better at it.

Simple Square Breathing Meditation:

Probably the easiest way to get started is to focus on your breathing.....
You can sit, stand or lay down, with your eyes open or closed, which ever you find most comfortable.

Simply breathe in deeply ~ through your nose if possible ~ at the same time. count slowly in your mind to Four or Three if your breath is not too deep ~ whichever suits your natural breathing pattern best.

Keep the counting as regular and rhythmic as possible and continue to use the same number you have chosen.

Now hold the breath in and count to this number again.

Now release the out breath ~through the mouth ~ for the same count.

Once again hold the space between breathing out and taking your next breath in whilst still counting.

Now breathe in again and starting the process from the beginning.

By rhythmically counting, you are keeping the thought processes Focused and the act of Breathing keeps you focused on the physical.  
You may feel a little light headed at first if you are not used to breathing this deeply, so take a break and continue in a minute or two.
The instant effects of this meditation are to calm and relax the mind as you focus your attention entirely on what you are doing, exercising the lungs and increasing the bodies oxygen supply to the bloodstream and organs, so it's a win win situation.

If you find that your mind wanders, gently guide it back to what you are doing and imagine that each breath and pause are like the four sides of a square. Give your full attention and awareness to focus your mind on the process. Feel the air as it passes through the nostrils, feel your rib cage expand and lift on the in breath and then deflate on the out breath.....
This meditation can be done almost anywhere, even whilst waiting in a  supermarket queue.

And here's another one:

First Steps Walking Meditation : 

Start by standing with both feet slightly apart.

As you breathe in, move your foot forward one step at your normal walking pace distance, but keep your body weight back over the leg that hasn't moved.

Now breathe out as you transfer your weight over onto the leg that you have just moved forward.

As you breathe in once more, move forward with the other leg this time by just one step, whilst keeping your body weight over the other leg as you did in the beginning.

Breathe in with each forward step and with each out breath transfer your body weight forward.

By walking very slowly in rhythm with your breathing, you are improving your sense of balance and relaxing the mind as you focus your attention entirely on what you are doing, exercising the lungs and increasing the bodies oxygen supply to the bloodstream and organs, so it's another win win situation.

Take this one slowly, quite literally one step at a time like a toddler who is learning to walk for the very first time. The only thing that wants to rush is your mind, so slow it down, there is no race......
As you become more proficient with the walking meditation you may even find yourself becoming aware of things that you had never noticed before.
This is a great one to do outdoors..........  

Click on the link 'positive benefits' at the beginning of this post to find out about 100 ways that meditation can help you.