Thursday, May 16, 2013

woman went walking

It's finally a lovely day here in the north east of these here United States. Which begs for some serious time outdoors. Enduring the freakishly cold weather the past couple of days had me leaving the confines of the studio, nay, the house, to feel the sun on my face and the wind in my hair (although, I did wear a hat). Walking the well-driven road was fine, but a need for an Aimless Ramble came over me so I followed that prompt and went off road.

There are few places which nurture a soul. The woods would be one of my favorites. (Followed by the lake, but that's another story which requires flotation.) When I'm feeling at wit's end, frazzled, uninspired, closed down the woods are a good place to be. And so I got to thinking how it might be an interesting practice, daily or every-other-daily, to make a Medicine Wheel. If that word doesn't resonate, how about Mandala? Or Circle of Stuff I Put Together Today? Whatever sings. The point is to get outside and create something ~ even though (especially if) impermanent. Let me repeat: the point is to get outside. We Humans De-Naturalize ourselves too much. The computer (I'm not exempt here), the TV, the wii/PlayStation/Xbox all serve to keep one confined and out of touch with dirt, bugs, animals, sun, rain, moon, the occasional and unpleasant encounter with dog poo.

So for the sake of argument or at least less irritation, let's stick with the term Medicine Wheel to describe what we'll be doing outside every day or every other day or, well, whenever. First, go. Outside. Don't have time for a leisurely walk? The backyard is fine. (I regret there are few options I can offer to urbanites not being a city-dweller, but you're all a resourceful bunch so I'm sure you'll figure out something.) Find a place to stand/sit/Be and, for now, call that Center. Now here's a fine opportunity to learn geographical direction: either have a compass handy (Smart Phones have 'em, don't they?) or look at where the sun is or might be if it weren't cloudy. Depending on the time of day determines whether you're facing East or West. If we're lucky and it's morning-ish, you're facing East which means South will be at your right hand, West behind you, with North at the left. Full Circle. I like to start at the East just 'cause. So, continuing with my example, from Center we walk East scanning the ground or area in that direction until something catches our eye that wants to be in the Circle. A few small rules here: take nothing that's trying to live except maybe a flower or leaf as long as it's not the only one and keep it small. Also, natural is nice, but if something else is found, then, by all means, include it. Whatever item is found, that's what will sit in the East of the Wheel. Coming back to Center (or thereabouts ~ don't step on the Wheel), we turn South and go through the same process of Looking until something is found, adding that item to the Circle in the South. The same motions are repeated for the remaining directions.

Now that we have items arranged in a circle or wheel or mandala, spend a moment meditating on what each of these things might mean in the direction they're sitting at. Again, if short on time, a quick pic with a phone or camera preserves the moment for further reflection. Attributes for each direction abound and are easily found through a search, especially if "medicine wheel" is keyed into that search. So have fun figuring it all out ~ get as cerebral as you want ~ but, first, go outside.

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