Throughout much of my adult life I have engaged in resetting practices in accordance with life’s ebb and flow. Making New Year’s resolutions has not been a part of my practice, though I honor the tradition. There is age old wisdom in use of the planetary changes of the relationship to the Sun, marked by Solstice, as a way of making a fresh start.
I met this New Year with a rare for me skin rash. It is a further unfolding of a healing process that had begun some time before. Consequently, I have found myself in a mode of reset. And reset always involves an expansion of one’s awareness. I have learned a lot, and experience gratitude for the opportunity. On a practical level, it has forced me to conduct research and development that will result in new and better targeted formulations for exacerbated skin conditions which will be offered at Gaia Soap Supply, where I work. On a deeper interior level, interestingly, it has marked a change in my relationship to the planet, and to the Sun. I will explain, lest you think the eczema has gone to my head.
Not long ago at the shop a woman told us her story of having suffered an accident that left her with body issues requiring multiple surgeries. As she spoke her mirth and beauty shone through and her attitude was inspirational. She hesitatingly said, as if it may sound crazy, that she was grateful for the accident insofar as it has taught her many things she would not have otherwise learned. Not the least of which was appreciation for simplicity – like the ability to move parts of her body she was unable to move for a period of time. She appreciated the stillness that was forced upon her and what this stillness brought into her range of awareness. And of course, nature, which is ever present in all its magnificent glory, decked out with miracles, if only we have the fullness of pure being to notice.
I have had enough experience in difficult life changing events to relate to the gift aspect of which this woman spoke. By comparison the skin rash outbreak was certainly mild, but it came at the tail end of a series of difficulties. My make gold of all the lead muscles were starting to fail me. One of the beauties of working at Gaia Soap Supply is that the space invites people to open up and talk about things they might not usually talk about in a public setting. And this has given me perspective – many people have had the same experience of multiple minor or major disasters. It is as though we are being asked to evolve faster. That’s how I take it anyway.
Imbalance expressed as illness always asks for us to place our attention on what has been neglected or hidden. Often we have failed to experience something fully due to our “agenda”. At least that is what I have seen play in my life. I have neglected to go in deep to the place of silence. I have skimmed the surface of experience and thus not genuinely felt what needed to be felt. Relying on the mind to evoke feeling is like eating cheese whiz in place of actual, good cheese. Not that I eat cheese, but it makes for a good metaphor.
In my practice I sometimes view inner workings from the perspective of having 3 brains – the mind, the heart, and the moving instinctive. Each with their own language and agenda, requiring a certain kind of work towards integration. We feel most alive and effective when these aspects of our being are cooperative and fully engaged in activity. Getting lost in to-do lists and the worry which comes with financial setbacks invariably points to a non-integral state of being.
How do you live more integrally? The same way you get to Carnegie Hall. Practice, practice.
My long held view has been that the closer we get to our original state of being – which is spiritual in nature – the healing of imbalance becomes possible. It simply goes with the territory. My love of essential oils and plant alchemy reflect my predilection in this direction.
This love has expanded through my now four years of working at the shop, making all kinds of formulations for people – salves, creams, oils and essential oil blends to help one through aches, exacerbated skin issues, and even, in a couple of cases, cancer. Taking another life into account in my activity has become more second nature, and this feels right, natural, closer to that state of being which is more essential. We are all of one thing, I have seen this. And because of the shop’s mission to reduce plastic waste and provide alternative solutions such as the apothecary aspect of it, there exists more attention placed on my habits in relationship to the planet, and the service work I do. Taking the planet into account is part of living a full life.
We are so pressured by our lives to fall into the hypnosis of the to-do list, it is easy to forget to live fully. Imbalance is a call to do so. And when we fail to heed that call, eventually, we find ourselves in trouble, individually and collectively this is so. As regards the planet, I cannot pretend to know its full intelligence. My deep sense is that it is a being, evolving, with an intelligence of a different order altogether. But I do know that when I drop in on it, when I am present in my aliveness and really look at nature, it is astonishing.
When I finally slowed down and got simple, I was eating a meal of vegetables, and suddenly realized with the fullness of my being that the sun’s energy was in that vital food. I felt the Big Love – a force - that seems to be behind it all. When I next looked at the sun, I felt communion. And the trees, how well they express the planet’s intelligence. And those wonderful herbs and essential oils that when put together helped the rash heal.
I have resolved to continue the process of slowing down in this way. And to look, and to feel. Right now is a poignant time for me within the context of the shop I have grown to love so much – the owner, my friend, has given public notice that he needs to sell. The future is unknown – and always is, or nearly always. But I do know that I will find a way to continue the work I do. And I will seek more experiences of communion with others, with the planet, with the sun.