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Easing the Journey Through Shadow & Light

  • Dawn

From Before Always

Anti-Anxiety Tool of the Week: Patting

This one's pretty easy. Simply pat yourself all over with the palms of your hands. Pat very gently or more firmly, as you prefer. If you start at the top of your head and go down your torso, it's easier to know you've covered everything. Be sure to pat everything, including all features of your face. When you get to your arms, pat one with the other hand, starting at the fingers and moving up to the shoulders, then do the other arm. Pat each arm all around, front, back and sides. Same with the legs--start at the feet and pat up, using two hands on each leg. You can use a pillow to pat the areas of your back that you can't reach, or gently bump those areas up against a doorway. If you have a friend or partner handy, you could ask them to pat your back.

This is another zapchen exercise. Julie Henderson, zapchen creator, notes that patting can help you have an "increased awareness of physical, energetic and psychological boundaries [and] helps the immune system know its 'job' more accurately." All this can help "increase confidence and clarity and impact." Therefore decreasing anxiety.

From Before Always

As humans, we are usually so embedded in time. We live in an extremely time-conscious society, often scheduled to--and over--the hilt, especially if there are children involved. I think the suspension of that intense scheduling during pandemic lockdown periods was part of why so many of us got so disoriented. One of my favorite pandemic jokes? “For those who have lost track, today is Blursday the fortyteenth of Maprilay.” Lawrence and I already had the problem to some extent since we're both retired and not huge social butterflies; it was intensely multiplied by the isolation and lack of daily and weekly routines.

That's one form of timelessness.

Yesterday we experienced another. We went up to the Blue Ridge Parkway to celebrate our 23rd wedding anniversary (hence the delay with publishing this post!). For the 14th year we took a sumptuous picnic to Raven's Roost, our favorite overlook, with it's shaded picnic table and incredible view of the Shenandoah Valley and Allegheny Mountains. We sat, enjoying the silence for a while, then ate a little, wandered around identifying wildflowers, ate a little more, saw what we think was a pair of kestrels, ate a little more, spotted more wildflowers (39 species altogether), took naps on the picnic table using our yoga mats, wandered more, ate more, flowered get the idea. No ravens this year, but then, you can't have everything.

Lying down and ceasing activity, even easy slow activity like wandering and eating, you become more aware of the cessation of human-generated sounds, especially if you are outside. Coupled with the beauty and the incredible age of those mountains, that silence offered us a way to slip into a very different sense of timelessness. The kind that C.S. Lewis meant when he penned the wonderful, intriguing (and grammatically questionable!) sentence:

"It has begun from before always."

He was trying to describe something ineffable, what he called "the Great Dance" by which he meant the ongoing eternal celebration of creation: "We speak not of when it will begin. It has begun from before always."

Six words. Twenty-seven characters--32 if you count the spaces. Yet so juicy. I do not grasp it best with my intellect--instead I allow it to roll around in that blessed space where my heart and my imagination connect. I know better what it means when I don't try to know, when it slides obliquely through my (mostly) relaxed body and mind.

It seems if we can be a little more mindful, a little more present in the moment, allowing ourselves to be aware of the Great Dance, time releases its headlock on us, at least for a little while.

Nature, silence, meditation, creative processes, some out-of body, near-death and mystical experiences--all offer that opportunity, a small lift out of our embedded routine and awareness, into a mode of love, simplicity and joy. It can't be predicted or controlled, but the possibility is always there.

"It has begun from before always."

Until next time,


Photo credits:

Cat and her human, Jonas Vincent, unSplash

Clocks, Jon Tyson, unSplash

Raven's Roost, The Outland dot com

Moon and mountains, Benjamin Voros, unSplash


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