Silent Sundays: Coming Soon!

This Silent Sunday finds my mind full of visions and plans. All concern the evolution of my personal and professional lives, which means that some of them affect Everything Elsa.

While the practices that one finds here and on anchor.fm in audio form are those that I create “for others,” they are borne of my own experience with or need for the specific aim of any given routine. What is personal to me reveals itself to be common to many: In making my way spiritually, emotionally, and physically—and in sharing how I perceive and proceed through challenges and doubts and aches and pains—it has become eminently clear that all who abide this human existence are, in a deep and true way, “in it together.”

Thus, as I take each baby step toward a move abroad and toward expanding the ways in which I can create and share Everything Elsa practices, I will keep readers and listeners apprised of the developments.

First and foremost, a new Everything Elsa website is in the making. There, you will find new ways to develop your personal practice, including live options. The launch date will be announced here.

As I—and you—move into this new phase, below are some links to previous posts in which I addressed courage and confidence amidst Big Changes. Although I wrote each piece while enduring an increasingly debilitating physical condition (which has since been resolved), the underlying message is one that applies universally: Belief in one’s own potential is possible, necessary, and, in my opinion, exponentially furthered by Faith.

https://everythingelsa.blog/2021/04/11/silent-sundays-in-pursuit-of-purpose/

https://everythingelsa.blog/2020/12/13/silent-sundays-sayings-series-courage/

Happy Sunday…

Silent Sundays: Joint Effort–Introduction

For a few months, I have been contemplating a piece about the joints. The first time that I addressed this perhaps undervalued component of the physical body was in 2018: “The Heat Is On “ provided a practice to cope with sweltering Summer temperatures and humidity’s effect on the joints.

https://everythingelsa.blog/2018/05/26/the-heat-is-on-water-bug-treatment-to-ease-joint-pain-from-humidity/ 

At the time, I was in the early throes of osteoarthritis, but did not know it. Because I was—and am—a very physically active person, I dismissed the sudden, sharp pain in my right hip to having “moved the wrong way.” When the acute phase passed into an intermittent, dull ache, my bodyworker self assumed that I could apply what I knew and remedy the situation over time.

I wrote that first post about joint pain five months after the first mysterious flare-up. Several months later—nearly a year in—the left hip began to display similar discomfort. When I finally sought chiropractic help, that practitioner recognized textbook symptoms of arthritis and suggested I see an orthopedic specialist.

After the official diagnosis, I endured another year-plus of increasingly debilitating pain. During this time, I had no choice but to reduce beloved movements, then those that were “functional”: To stand, bend, sit up or down, or turn over in bed became a dreaded effort.

This trip back through that challenging time leads to this Silent Sunday. Having experienced the rigors of osteoarthritis for nearly three years—and now rejoicing in the privilege of pain-free movement after a double hip replacement last year—I am more aware than ever that the body requires constant monitoring and maintenance. 

More significantly, I have developed a deep reverence for the esoteric underpinnings of anatomical structures.

When one is young and healthy—or older and without physical concern—the goal of movement tends to be one of having fun, pushing boundaries, and muscling through feats of endurance.

That there are unexplored realms within any given anatomical feature that factor into “what makes us go” may be rarely considered.

My own fascination with the wealth of information hidden within joints—specifically those of the hips—was expressed in the following piece that I wrote post-surgery. Included within the post is a visualization and meditation practice, should you want to more deeply explore the potential that lies within your joints:

https://everythingelsa.blog/2021/05/16/silent-sundays-pockets-of-change/

Finally, it may be helpful to supply some learned background. For example, joints, according to Louise L. Hay in her book, “You Can Heal Your Life,” reflect the ability to change directions in Life. If stricken with arthritis, joints may reveal the presence of underlying resentment.

Further, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, joints align most closely with the Wood element. Wood, associated with the Liver and Gall Bladder organ systems, corresponds with movement, and is demonstrated by the qualities of a “pioneer”: 

Action compels the Pioneer. …The urge to get things moving, make things happen, and voyage onward typifies the Pioneer. … [When thwarted,] what was once a gratifying challenge can become an aggravating distress…

The above description (from Beinfield and Korngold’s “Between Heaven and Earth”) reinforces the notion of joints as agents of change. When one’s plans and anticipation of newness go unmet, resentment may build: thus, Hay’s note of arthritis as a reflection of that disappointment.

Another, not-well-known aspect of the joints—indeed, of the whole body’s hidden realms—is that of marmas. Marmas, according to Frawley, Ranande, and Lele in their book, “Ayurveda and Marma Therapy,” are sensitive pressure points that correspond with specific parts of the body; however, the reach and complexity of a marma surpasses any localized position. While marmas can be used to address a physical or psychosomatic condition, they also connect to the subtle nerves and energy centers of the body (nadis and chakras, respectively).

As stated in the book, “Marmas are classified by their dominant physical constituents as muscle, vessel, ligament, joint, or bone-based regions, [and as such], mark the junction of the body with the mind. … Treating them can release negative emotions and remove mental blockages, including those of a subconscious nature.”

With regard to the above information, one begins to understand how the joints are a significant representative of the often unplumbed depths of the physical body. When their function goes awry, it is not only mundane activity that is affected: unresolved emotions and conflicts, latent fears and dormant dreams—one’s history of being rises up and requires reckoning.

Next time: Joint Effort—A More-Than-Movement Practice

Happy Sunday…

Silent Sundays: In Pursuit of Purpose

Today’s Silent Sunday reflects upon Purpose, and those times when one’s sense of that oft-elusive concept has waned or become clouded. To be clear, Purpose-Big-P aligns with Destiny: purpose-little-p corresponds more closely with earthly obligations and decisions that may arise from circumstance. Many of us spend years, even full lifetimes, committed to a purpose: a job to sustain a family, or an ideal born of societal demand. These are valiant, valid pursuits for one’s time on Earth. For the growth and evolution of the Soul, however, Purpose signifies avowal to that which God and the Universe deem yours. 

The seeds of this contemplation first sprouted with the diagnosis of my hip osteoarthritis. My daily activities were curtailed; I wondered about the reality of holding a job when sitting, standing, and walking were seriously compromised. My purpose-little-p at the time was to make it to surgery before full collapse.

And then, the Pandemic: Nearly everyone I know or spoke with felt the stirrings of, “What will I do differently when this is over?” Most of these queries referred to purpose-little-p; some were fraught with the existential uncertainty that often points to the imminent arousal of Purpose-Big-P. But as human beings who adapt, we became accustomed to the ongoing protocols of the Pandemic; subsequently, the drive to ponder purpose or Purpose simmered to a slow, if at all, boil.

Cut to today. For anyone, perhaps illness, injury, family need, or travel has taken you out of your usual routine; perhaps grief or medication has pulled you away from a feeling of connection to the divine and the Universe. Or, as does happen from time to time, perhaps you have reached a personal or professional impasse: Possibilities have fogged over, and the ability to shine a light on a solution has dimmed.

For me, over the course of the past few weeks, I have realized with a powerful punch my tiny place in the grand universal scheme. The pain-filled road to surgery; the weeks of self-focus during rehab; and the unanchored feeling that has accompanied my emergence from surgical pain and meds—all have ushered me to a seat that feels entirely unfamiliar.

More than that: I am left with the sense that I have left my “old life” behind. It would stand to reason, then, that I am embarking on a “new life.” Certainly, most of us can divide our lives into chapters or phases—their delineations are clear, be it in the form of a job, a person, or an impassioned pursuit. Yet, my current condition feels more like a second volume; the previous tome contained particular lessons, growing pains, and emotionally fraught chapters. These new pages seem pre-written with invisible ink: It is the energy of my active participation that will allow their intention to be revealed.

I am feeling the early stages of nervous anticipation: However, with Faith, nerves settle, and anticipation becomes imbued with curiosity and a promise to open to and uphold that which the Universe and the Divine decree for me: my Purpose.

How to trust in that which one has not met, has yet to experience, and initially inspires trepidation? How to feel strong and sure when all that is to come is as yet unrevealed? 

It seems to me to be yet another adventure with Faith. Wherever you have arrived in Life, whatever is going right or terribly wrong: Faith that you are in the place you are meant to be, and Faith that circumstances are exactly as they should be—this is the mindset and Heart-hold that will carry you through, unto the next.

Thus, when you recognize a change in your very vibration—and are uncertain of its significance or outcome—that is the time to double-down on whatever version of Faith has brought you to this point. While you may need to reframe thoughts; shift perspective; adjust the construct or nature of your practices; or—often most challenging—subsume plans or desires to the vast Unknown, you nevertheless continue to have choice. 

Choose courage over crumbling; choose open eyes over head in the sand; choose promise over despair; and, as ever, choose to look to the Universe and the Divine for strength and guidance. Regardless of when or where your path diverges or darkens, Faith in the wisdom present throughout eternity will grace your process.

As such, today’s practice calls for a “dig deep” commitment. Let today be the day that you fully immerse into each moment, throughout the times suggested: Tasks can wait, and mental chatter will dissipate as you spend more time within the folds of the process.

To begin, lie on your back. In order to spark the gritty determination and confidence needed to evolve, stimulate the Third Chakra, or Solar Plexus. As its name implies, this energy center corrals the Sun Energy, radiating power throughout the body and mind. The full posture, Stretch Pose, requires legs and feet 6-12 inches off the floor, with upper body raised to allow the eyes to be at the same level as the feet. Arms are stretched long by the sides, palms up, and Breath of Fire begins. 

If, as you move through this 3-minute challenge, you need a break, lower the head. Or, place one foot on the floor, and lift one leg; switch sides halfway through. After a break, perhaps you will be able to resume the full posture.

After the previous “Stretch Pose,” place both feet on the floor, knees bent, hip width apart. With the arms on the floor, lift the hips and torso up as you inhale; lower down as you exhale. Continue as rapidly as possible for 26 lifts. This move will stabilize the energy stirred in the first exercise, and root you into the goal of discovering Purpose.

Now, help yourself into a seated posture. Extend both arms to the sides, and pull them slightly behind the line of the body, thus opening and stretching the chest and fronts of shoulders. Palms face up as cups, fingers long and together: The thumbs extend up way from the hands. Again, do Breath of Fire with this arm and hand mudra for 3 minutes.

Next, relax and shake out the arms for a moment. Renew your focus on Purpose and your lot in Life. On each hand, curl the index finger into the thumb; the other fingers are together and straight. Bring the left hand in front of the Heart Center (not touching the body), palm down; place the right hand underneath a few inches, palm up. With eyes closed and gazing at the Third Eye, breathe deeply and steadily with this mudra for 7 minutes.

For the final mudra and breath portion, bring the hands in front of the Heart: The backs of the hands touch, fingers pointing down, with palms open to the sides. Rest the hands against the sternum, and close the eyes to gaze at the Third Eye. Remain here, breathing fully and slowly, for another 7 minutes.

When you are done, sit quietly, hands resting (palms down) on the knees. Or, release into Svasana for as long as you like. 

Happy Sunday…

How to Hang On–Day 2: Recognize Rhythms

One of the states that most of us aim for is centeredness. And yet, one must recognize that an inherent quality of existence is change. An almost predictable rhythm accompanies each arena of Life: aging, seasons, relationships, psycho-spiritual development, etc.: One moves back and forth, to and fro, in and out, up and down within the mind, spirit, and body. Thus, while feeling centered is an empowering, contented state of being, its presence inevitably ebbs and flows.

I ponder this, because I have begun to recognize that the shifts of my physical and mental states have been nudging me off-center on a daily basis. Ironically, this non-centeredness has become my new certainty: I can not say that I enjoy it, only that I am aware of it and learning to accept it. For again, this current state will change in the future: When I finally have a new hip, my physical and emotional rhythms will take on an entirely new beat. 

So, while my feelings two days ago took on a bleak tone, yesterday delivered a boost of spirit and a less ferocious physical pain. Today, this morning, I feel somewhere in between. But to acknowledge that the swinging pendulum is the consistent aspect of moving through Life is to feel a sense of relief: To become untethered or uncentered need not connote failure or lack of discipline; simply, it reflects the nature of human being-ness.

’Til tomorrow…