This time of year often takes me by surprise, although I have been tracking seasonal cycles for 13 years now. As December 21st swiftly approaches, I am reminded of it’s potent significance: in my corner of the northern hemisphere: Winter Solstice marks the longest night of the year, and the inward turning of the outer world. Plants, trees, birds, and mammals all hunker down for the cold winter ahead, maintaining their basic life energy in suspended repose. It is also, ironically, the time of year when light begins to return – days lengthen in duration, ushering the world toward renewal.
But how is it that while the natural world enters its slumber, we humans often face high speed frenzy? In the race toward holiday parties, shopping sprees, and family outings, is it possible to sustain our most potent, authentic nature?
Aligning with the rhythms of the land, and sourcing our inner bodymind wisdom, can directly feed our soul’s hunger for movement, creativity, and the warmth of befriending ourselves. Instead of feeding that external pull to expend more energy in our outer life, we can turn our attention to a deeply reflective process. In doing so, we can find the nature of our own renewal.
At Women’s Nature Ways, we offer practices that draw upon our connection with nature and the nature of our bodymind to become astute trackers of our inner landscape, searching for patterns and trails of experiences that lead to, and feed, our inner fire.
In the spirit of holiday giving, we offer you a taste of Embodied Renewal.
The process of Embodied Renewal is designed to accompany you on your journey of deep inner reflection and bodymind awakening. It is an invitation to dive into your interior, to travel realms of insight and reflection through questioning, moving, and journaling.
Below are a several series of questions and embodiment activities to guide your renewal journey. As with any embodiment practice, slowing down invites the most potent process. Take your time, and enjoy exploring each section, one at a time, ideally spreading them out over the days surrounding the Winter Solstice and into the New Year.
Before you begin, gather a journal and writing implement, a warm drink, and a blanket to keep you cozy. Find a comfortable, quiet place where you can be uninterrupted for as long as you wish to dedicate to this practice.
Find a comfortable position, and begin with your breath. Allow you inhale to gently be drawn in through your nose, and release gently out through your mouth.
Notice any sensations in your body. Acknowledge each and continue your conscious breathing. Feel free to move your body to release any tension – stretch, shake, or wiggle. Do this for several minutes, or until you begin to feel your mind quieting, and your body relaxing.
- Reflect: When have you felt most connected to nature? Try to recall the details: how old were you? Where were you? How did you feel most alive? What feelings, sensations, or emotions can you recall? Allow your eyes to close while you recall these memories.
- Move: Notice what parts of your body feel most activated in this moment? What sensations are you aware of in your body as you reimagine these times of feeling connected with nature? Allow your body to move in response to these memories and sensations. Try to keep your eyes closed, but please do open them if you have an impulse to move in a large manner. After a few minutes, bring your moving to a close. Open your eyes. Breathe.
- Journal: Take some time to write down your experience. Include your memories, your insights, your imaginings, and whatever else came through your body and mind. Pay particular attention to any patterns that are emerging.
- Reflect: What significant dreams, visions, or synchronicities have been present for you this year? Have they involved specific plants, animals, trees, or forces of nature? What meaning do these experiences carry for you?
- Move: As before, allow your body a few moments to move in response to any images, memories, sensations, or desires arising from reflection on these questions. Allow the “natural world” within you to be present in your movement. Bring your moving to a close. Open your eyes. Breathe.
- Journal: Free-flow writing or structured recording with words are both useful here. Drawing images are another way to express your experience. Play with naming your experiences as if you were naming a chapter in the book of your life (i.e., Turtle Dreaming; Deer Song; Giant Bear Sojourn). These can serve as touch-stones for tracking larger arcs of patterns in your life.
- Reflect: What are your natural gifts? How have they expressed themselves this year? (It may be easier to answer these questions by thinking of what others tend to appreciate in you.)
- Move: As before, allow your body a few moments to move in response to any images, memories, sensations, or desires arising from reflection on these questions. Notice any repetitive movements and amplify them; allow them to change; follow your body’s expression with curiosity. When you are feeling complete, bring your moving to a close. Open your eyes. Breathe.
- Journal: Make a list of all of the ways in which your gifts express. Sometimes using archetypal names can crystalize your gifts (i.e., The Compassionate Listener; The Generous Heart; The Soulful Healer).
- Reflect: What blocks or obstacles have you encountered this year? Have you seen these appear in other areas of your life? What will help to release or let go of them? What or who is in need of your forgiveness?
- Move: Really allow your body to take time with this one. If you find yourself becoming stuck in any way, return to your breath to help soften any tension, holding, or resistance arising in your body. Let any sounds release from your body. Be gentle with yourself. Bring your moving to a close and open your eyes. Breathe.
- Journal: Write about your experience in the form of a letter to yourself/the obstacle/another person. Share your insights, feelings, needs, and requests. Your words can be a salve to ease reconciliation and healing, either within yourself, or between you and another.
- Reflect: What is your vision for yourself, your family, community, or the world at this time? What are you moving towards in the new year?
- Move: Feel into the energy, the quality of sensation, and the movement that arises from your body and as it travels beyond your person and out into space. Are your movements reaching? Pushing? Pulling? Do you feel a flow to your movements? What are the shapes of your movements?
- Journal: What meaning do you make of your experience? What inspired action can you take toward manifesting your vision? Is your body already expressing a clear path, or do you need to align your inspirations and your body for greater clearer intention?
Feel free to let us know how this process supports you in your journey to find peace and renewal during this season. Reflect on your experience, and share any thoughts, musings, or questions here on our blog.
Reference: Embodied Renewal is inspired by a process called The Renewal of Creative Path, first shared with me by my nature connection mentor Jon Young and the 8 Shields Institute, and inspired by The Great Law of Peace. Thank you, Jon!
Posted by Stacey Hinden