According to our resident wellbeing expert Jane Kersel, February is an ideal time to learn the art of journalling. A practice that has many benefits for your wellbeing (think clearing the mind and life planning) Jane teaches us how to let go on paper with her latest Content Ritual below.
Softening Into the Light
“Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.” – Anaïs Nin
Life is a work in progress, a ritual theatre, a performance art, and we are called to take centre stage, to be the artists of our own stories, the creators of our own lives. You can choose to direct and star in your own movie or you can play a small part in someone else’s production. You can choose to play it asleep, numbed out, or to be fully present and aware to each passing moment. Throughout our lives we are constantly changing the parts that we play: child, student, teacher, mother, sister, wife, friend, lover, saint, sinner, etc.
Now is the time to get your story down: literally to put into writing the novel that is unfolding as your life. Personal writing is in itself a way of shamanic healing (and I don’t mean computer typing, which works a different part of your brain).
Your ritual this month starts by buying or finding yourself a beautiful journal and a set of pens and coloured crayons. Fill your journal with dreams, poems, reflections, insights, confessions, drawings, images and quotations. Put into it anything that inspires you. Begin to plot out your life like a sacred map and an ongoing exercise in self-discovery to help you find your own voice, your own story and your own truth. Also, try doing non-dominant writing (ask a question writing in your dominant hand, then find the answer through the non-dominant hand) and try and find the different parts of your psyche that have an opinion of how your life will be: the inner critic, the inner child, the patriarchal part, the perfect part, the free spirit, the heart/feeling part…. each part will have a different response and desire for how they see your life unfolding. This is important. Why?
Because February is a “busy” aspected month: usually that time of the year when Mother Earth starts to awaken and the shoots of new ideas start peeping up through the fertile soil and actions are to be taken.
However, this year is slightly different: it’s a two steps forward, one step back kind of time, with a need to dig deep and get real to the subconscious drivers that are directing our lives – instead of taking action from the superficial mind level. The challenge builds further because in the Chinese calendar we have just moved into the Year of the Monkey and with that comes an energy of trickery, illusion, imitation and speed. The monkey jumps from branch to branch and can show up in your mind in similar fashion – always jumping from one thought to another, spinning you into a web of anxiety or make-believe. It creates diversions and mistruths.
Monkey energy is one that looks around and copies and follows the herd – in following you become false to who you are, so how can you flourish if you are copying? It becomes a mindset of looking outwards: you see a singer, you want to be a singer; you see an actor, you want to be an actor; you read countless self-help books telling you to cultivate some other part of you and you end up being everything except yourself. What a waste of your own life!
So this is a calling, just like those first buds of spring to “AWAKEN” and in that awakening to let go, to let life move through you, to surrender to the push and pull of the planets, to things you ‘should’ be doing, to follow life and its seasons of birth, death. From that death, just like a phoenix rising from the ashes comes “RENEWAL” – more honest, more real, more aware of yourself than ever before, because without that strong rooted inner knowing of who you are, you will find the year blowing you, whisking you up on a roller coaster ride without anything solid beneath your feet!
The philosopher, Blaise Pascal, once wrote: “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
And in all my years of teaching I know this to be such a truth: so many people struggle even on ‘good’ days to sit quietly with themselves, so how on earth do they think they will be able to hold their ground and centre on days when the tsunamis come? How on earth do they imagine they will react calmly, flexibly and assuredly when the proverbial “XXXX hits the fan?”
So in your journal – whatever chronological age you find yourself today start the writing process through these chapters and keep this book going throughout the entire year.
Conception and early childhood: What do you know about the start of your life story? Who and what were your parents? Deeply in love, a planned event, a cherished surprise, a hostile/ unconscious result? Draw yourself in the womb – what colours does it generate? How does it feel? Is it light or dark? Do you feel safe? Was your mother comfortable in her own sexuality and/or with being pregnant? What was the birth like? Think of three things you love about your mother and three things you hate: how do those judgements relate to you, do you accept them in you? Are they in shadow? Do the same process with your father. What did you learn about the male/masculine? The female/ feminine? Who carried which part stronger? What is the balance within you and within your relationships?
Puberty and young adulthood: Sketch your own sexual history – make a list of all your lovers. Study it. What does it tell you? About your heart, your mind, your body? Imagine all your lovers in the same room with you from then to the present day: what might they have to tell you today and what might you have to tell them today? Describe in detail the feminine aspects of yourself: the yin, the passive, the receptive, the heart/ feeling, the nurturing, the intuitive. Name her and let her talk to you in your journal. The same with the male side: the yang, the dynamic, the analytical, the intellectual. Name him and let him talk to you in your journal. Notice which energetic – the male or the female – you feel more comfortable being and when do each of them come out to play? Then imagine a love affair between him and her: how do they get on, how do they complement, inspire, conflict? Imagine that relationship developing into a marriage, a union and a life-long commitment to flow together: how does your inner male and female energetics reflect the outer male and female partnerships and friendships you have?
Present day: Ask yourself – what are your dreams, desires, fantasies, concerns, feelings? Does your outer reality match your inner reality? How are you expressing yourself in the world? Have you created a division between who you are really and how you present yourself? If yes, why?
Maturity: Many people may reach a chronological mature age but never actually mature: they remain children, adolescents, infants all their lives and so much of our patriarchal institutions, such as the NHS and Government, keep us locked in this same paradigm. Equally, many people are seeking enlightenment but are looking in the wrong direction: you can’t get it by doing weird esoteric practices, studying with a hippy dippy guru from India or other ‘leader’ which just re-enforces the parent/child relationship. Enlightenment comes solely from your commitment to show up to yourself, to get real, to get honest, to commit to learning from those around you that ‘push’ your buttons, to embrace the challenges of perhaps being in a committed relationship, to raising conscious children, to giving back to the community at large. Maturity becomes the task of the hero/heroine to move beyond the body, the mind, the heart and to connect to the soul, the essence of all you have become and are still becoming. If you are at this stage in your life now, then write about it: how are you with intimacy, sexual expression, desires? Are you doing the right work? Write a detailed account of your primary intimate relationships up to now: what was good about them? What was not? Write a detailed portrayal of the ideal intimate relationship you would like to have: what are its essential elements? What might you have to do, to be to get such a relationship?
Death: Imagine you are old now, how would you like to spend the last cycle of your life? How would you like to die? Write your own epitaph, your own eulogy: what music would you play, how would it be? How would be there? What would they say?
Finally now, turn the page………. To a clean white empty page………. now live from that point……….. and don’t look back.#