Good morning from our little stretch of woods and lake and snow and cold. Sitting here at this computer I watch lazy flakes of snow silhouetted against black and gray tree limbs. Yonder brown oak leaves dangle from branches that tenderly hold last years promise. The snow dusts the branches of an evergreen. Blue jays call. The woodstove hums in the basement. It’s deep January in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
The weather forecasters send chilly spikes into our snowy landscape as they predict plummeting temperatures for the next ten days. From today’s high of 21F (-6C) we’ll plunge to -14F (-25C) by Sunday night. I plan to wear my long underwear, heavy winter coat and big warm boots until February, at least, every time I venture to town and beyond.
January offers the opportunity to stay inside and travel deep within the inner psyche to discover what we yet need to hatch and discover and make peace with in these human bodies. That’s what I’ve been doing. Have been taking a nine-month spiritual online class delving deep into holy work. We’re in the fourth month now.
One of the things I’ve been learning more steadfastly in recent years is how our repressed and unconscious pain can keep us enmeshed in patterns of suffering. So part of the work of this spirituality is feeling into whatever emotions arise, dropping out of our fascination with thought, and feeling deeply in the body.
So I have been feeling a lot. Sometimes quite painful emotional sensations will arise. Sometimes these are unconscious feelings from babyhood or childhood. Sometimes they are feelings triggered by something someone says. I am slowly learning to love the innocence behind the masks we wear. I am slowly relaxing a bit more into this world which can keep reflecting our inner repressed pain back to us.
But enough of this spiritual talk. You perhaps would like to know what else is happening here.
Each morning–except some mornings–I linger in pajamas until at least 10 a.m., unless other plans take precedence. It’s becoming more of a joy to do slow yoga stretches. Hands together to the sky. Fingers down to the toes. Right foot back, face to the floor. Each movement matches with an in-breath or out-breath. Up, down, arch, elongate, clasp. First in the East–the direction of new beginnings and sunrises–and all the way around to the North where whatever we’ve learned perhaps settles into wisdom.
My daughter asked if I’d like to participate with her in a commitment to walk outside every January day for a minimum of ten minutes. I said yes. So each day the steps go up the road, down the road, around the house, or across the snow. Sometimes I linger in deer or squirrel footsteps. Sometimes I walk a half hour. It’s interesting because–without this incentive–I would stay inside when it’s “too cold”. Now that’s not a possibility. Open the door and walk outside, you. Your mind will try to convince you it will be damn uncomfortable. Usually it turns out to be kinda invigorating.
A California friend kindly taught me an art form called Zentangle one fine evening over Skype. She loves this patterned drawing so much that she shares it with others. I followed her techniques and enjoyed our lesson, and she nudged me toward websites that offered different Zentangle patterns. I spent a frustrated half hour (good opportunity to feel painful emotions!) attempting to figure it all out before giving up, clearing my mind, and letting the hand draw whatever patterns it desired, forget any official rules. What I love MOST about Zentangle is that Jodi taught me that nothing is considered a mistake. What a great lesson to be applied to life! What we call a mistake can also be viewed as the next lesson to be learned…the heart relaxes with that, doesn’t it?
Another thing I’ve been doing this January is based on authentic movement or free dancing. I turn on Pandora in the evening–lately it’s been Norah Jones radio–and allow the body to move how it wants to move. Not how it’s been conditioned to dance. But how it desires to move for healing, integration and love.
What else? A great joy is getting together for tea or lunch with dear friends. I have a handful of dearly loved friends (who seem to like connecting on a deeper level about spirituality and life lessons and such). I’m deeply grateful for their presence here. As well as online friends who keep singing their special song of connection into this life. Hands to heart, in gratitude…
Finally, on a practical everyday level, we fill the wood room. We burn the dried firewood. We plow and shovel. We watch the days get just a tiny bit lighter. We shiver. We laugh. We cry. We dance. (Not Barry. I’m just talking metaphorically in this paragraph, just to wrap things back to the eternal “we” that laughs, cries, dances.)
What are you doing these deep January days?