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Excerpt from "Ritual As Remedy"

Chapter 2: Into the Heart Temple; Living Wild, Loving Free

by Mara Branscombe


DANCING WITH THE SHADOW SELF

As we have all experienced, life brings initiations: wounds, shame, blame, addictions, traumas, attachments, breakups, celebrations, breakthroughs, breakdowns; the list goes on. While we can’t control what happens to us in life, we can control how we respond. By activating steady, mind- and heartfueled practices to awaken to the present moment, we open the channels to align and live out the best versions of who we are.

When we begin to investigate our life experiences as “material” to reflect back to us the ways in which we can self-direct our healing process, we begin the journey of meeting our shadow self rather than running away from it. Our fears, our broken sense of self; the “I am not good enough,” the “I will never find love,” mixed with our anxieties, stressors, and repressed feelings, become the materials through which we heal. No longer do we run away from them. We bring awareness to them, we name them, we arrange them all before us, and we begin to sculpt, massage, dismantle, decode, unveil, uncover, and strip away our desire to hold on to them so tightly.

We become the architect, the choreographer, and the shape-shifter. We use the shadow self as present-moment material to transform. This becomes the work. This becomes the path towards integrated awareness, no longer bypassing the core of the issue or the depth of the trauma--the anxiety, grief, fear, rage, or depression.

The presence of an embodied, ritualistic way of living will be your guide on this journey. This is no part-time gig, and it is not an easy path. When we are able to rewire our thought patterns and our triggered protective reactions, we get to the heart of the matter. We begin to understand more intimately how we can practice daily self-care rituals to ground, release, invite, forgive, integrate, and to do the work required to live the best life possible. Your life as a living, breathing, creative, messy, present, compassionate, forgiving, and awake creation. This is how to deepen our experience in life, fulfill our dreams and love wildly.

You get to choose, you get to do the work, you get to make the rules, you get to be your own guide on this journey.

Are you up for it? Let’s journey.

THE PRACTICE OF COMPASSION
AND UNSHAKEABLE SELF-LOVE

The practice of self-love is the healing balm of our times.

Pause for a moment. Place your hands on your heart, take three deep, full breaths as you hold the intention to meet your whole body from a place of love. On each exhale, let go of the self-talk and actions that are holding you back from standing strong in your ability to fully accept and love yourself. By loving ourselves with unshakeable composure daily, we can fully show up and be loving and compassionate towards others in our lives. When this kind of radical self-love becomes the main channel of energy, we begin to shed the self-judgments, the “I am not good enough” or “I am not worthy” paradigms, and the heart center aligns, anchors, and magnetizes.

When anxiety, stress, fatigue, and unhealthy motivations and actions arise, they take over our lives without us even realizing it. All of a sudden, we find ourselves in a heated, triggered moment, and we begin to say, do, and act out in ways that are not aligned with our capacity to be a source of love and connection. We begin to live out the past or project into the future, and this separates our attention like a raging river blocked up by a dam. We go into fight or flight, sink or swim, rage or cry, and we begin to swirl into the eddy of the river.

Again, take a moment, pause, and breathe deeply. Know and trust that the work of the contemporary mystic is to remain rooted in the present moment, to feel fully, repressing nothing, to listen to the signs and signals of the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and intuitive whispers coming though.

To be compassionate is to be accepting and forgiving of each individual’s differences. It is also to be accepting and forgiving of your own personal judgments, actions, and differences. When your mind begins to loop in a negative track, a signal is sent to your heart to close, which then creates an energetic pull on the body that detracts positive energy and attracts negative energy. When we are able to catch our internal mind chatter in a state of judgment or negativity instead of allowing it to continue, we can make a choice to pause, breathe, and ask ourselves, “what value does this thought and feeling serve the greater good in me or others?” This kind of presence becomes a catalyst for transformation to occur. The mind realizes that this kind of low vibration judgment is of no use, the heart softens, and the channels of heart-mind-body open.

When we awaken to our heart center as our spiritual teacher and commit to honoring our personal soul-care work, we hold space to mend our heart wounds, both past and present, and we access a higher vibration and capacity to love. Our self-love becomes unshakeable and wildly magnetic. We are able to align with present-moment sensations without compromise, allowing us to see, feel, and sense where our energy gets pulled. We attune to the conditions in which our heart closes, opens, becomes numb, pounds, races, and feels more anchored and at peace in our day-to-day lives. This work brings us to a place where we can recover more quickly from the heartbreaks and heartaches, from the “I am not enough” mentality.

Mind--body practices such as yoga, tai chi, meditation, breath techniques, nature inspiration, and visualizations can keep us steady and awake, and they have the capacity to set the foundation to live life through the lens of our spiritual hearts--to live wildly and love freely. Our unique capacity to love and to heal becomes a temple within our soul. The journey--working with grief, trauma, sadness, even past-life pain--becomes the process and the adventure.

Each cycle, relationship, and life experience create the navigation points within our heart’s compass. When we intentionally move our energy, clear our minds of toxic residue, and practice compassion towards ourselves and others, we magnetize the vibration of an evolved love.

NEW BEGINNINGS: TODAY IS A NEW DAY

We are always in a state of healing, each one of us, every day.

Our body intelligence encourages our internal ecosystem towards a state of wholeness for optimal functioning.

Today is a new day and it holds the capacity for wide-open potential and possibility. Take a pause and a deep breath in and out. Let’s repeat that line. Today is a new day and it holds the capacity for wide-open potential and possibility. The current of healing and loving wildly and living freely requires us to hold space for new beginnings; for new forms of compassion and forgiveness to come through us. We are born with this pure state of inquiry. As our ego forms and our life experience takes its own unique shape, we begin to play out a version of our self that seeks approval of others or compartmentalizes ways of loving and not loving in order to stay safe. How we can embrace a radical intention of self-love?

When our mind plays tricks on us, as it does, we interrupt the healing by choosing conflicting thoughts, actions, and words over being present with our wholeness. When we become connected with our essential, higher self, we grow, heal, expand, and deepen our intuitive nature. As technology advances, we need to advance and commit to grounding practices for inner strength, compassion, and enduring self-love. As society grows more complex, we need to remember our soul’s mission every day. Recalibrate through present-moment awareness and the power of daily rituals. Meet our energy fields where they are, unearth and bring light to current stressors or triggers. Learn how to honor where we currently are, change our state through mind-body practices, and move on to living life with a heart full of joy and freedom at the core of our being.

Every time we activate self-care rituals in an intentional way, a healing takes place. Sometimes the healing is quiet and subtle, other times wildly transformative.

Celebrate your radiance and raise your energy by reclaiming self-love. If your self-love practice stays consistent every day, you are holding space for transformation to occur before your own eyes. The daily rituals you activate can shift you from one state of being to another. They can release a long-time negative pattern of shame, blame, self-doubt, self-loathing, anxiety, fear--into reclaiming and loving your sovereign self. Let this light in. Your guides will support you; they will acknowledge your work. You will feel supported, connected, and increasingly conscious of unity within your soul.

Rituals to Connect, Open, and Anchor Your Heart’s Capacity

Attune to the power of self-love through the ritualistic process of altar creation, breath work, prayer, meditation, mantra and visualization. Awaken and generate lasting transformation by purifying heart, body, and mind. Receive the perspective required to ignite the heart visionary within while connecting to the powerful element of air.

1. Morning Ritual: Anchor Inside the Heart Visionary

Intention

To infuse your day with gratitude, clarity, and compassion.

1 Begin each morning by quietly greeting the rising sun in the east, attune to the element of air. Be mindful of how it breathes life into you.
2 Light a candle and acknowledge three or more things that you are grateful for. You may want to write them down or speak them aloud.
3 Sit in silent meditation for three to five minutes. You may welcome in the support of the mineral world and hold a healing crystal in each hand.
4 Visualize your day going the way you would like it go; mentally rehearse. If you can see it, you will align your energy body towards a higher vibrational field.
5 Bring your awareness to your inhale as a state of receiving and your exhale as a state of giving. Slow down your breath for a count of six, inhale six to receive, exhale six to give good energy out. Repeat six times.
6 Align with the energy of the rising sun. Visualize the energy of your heart. What does it need for it to be full and free? What seeds are you ready to plant at this time?
7 Place both hands on your heart and give thanks for another day of life on this planet.
8 Journal any positive images, symbols, gratitudes, or messages that came to you. Weave them into your day.

2. Breath of Heart Practice

Intention

To awaken your heart’s capacity and ignite self-love.

Supplies

For this ritual you will need a candle and a comfortable and quiet place to sit or lie down uninterrupted for ten minutes. Feel free to put on some soothing music if it supports your relaxation.

1 Light your candle and state your intention to cleanse, clear, or support the growth of your capacity to love yourself unconditionally.
2 Close your eyes and begin to take deep, intentional breaths, eventually slowing down your breath to a count of six on both the inhale and the exhale. Go through eight rounds of this counted breath exercise.
3 Begin to visualize your actual heart space, your lungs, and your shoulders. If there is heaviness, numbness, sadness or darkness, allow it to flow out of you on the exhale. Connect to a color you love, and let it swirl and cleanse your heart space both on the inhale and the exhale.
4 Now align with a virtue or an essence you are calling in to support the growth of your ability to self-love, self-heal, and self-guide from your heart.
5 It may come to you in the form of words, sounds, or symbols. I invite you to express this out loud, as if you are speaking, singing, praying; listening to exactly what your heart needs from you to grow.
6 Place your left hand on your heart and your right hand on top of that hand. Soften completely. Feel any emotion that comes through. Let it all flow. Begin to tap your right hand on top of your left in this rhythm: 1–2, 1–2–3, 1–2, 1–2–3, 1–2, 1–2–3. Continue counting the beat if you find it supportive. Go for as long as you can as you relax your body.
7 Come into complete stillness and welcome in the element of air. Visualize the cleanest, purest air surrounding you. Inhale for four to six seconds, hold the breath for four to six seconds, exhale for four to six seconds, hold for four to six seconds, and then repeat. As you hold your breath, welcome radical self-love, streaming through your whole body. Go for at least two minutes and stay as long as you want.
8 Visualize an anchor inside your heart that will allow space for opening, grounding, growth, and strong boundaries. Merge this anchored energy now into your spine, and down into the earth. Once you feel your heart anchor rooting downwards, visualize it rising like a channel back up your spine, through your mind, and out the crown of your head. Your spine becomes a channel of compassion.
9 Keep visualizing your heart is in your spine and observe any sensations, visuals, and symbols that may arise.
10 Complete this ritual by standing tall with your feet hip-width apart. Sweep your arms high over your head on the inhale, bend your knees, and swing your arms down by your sides as you curve your spine so your heart falls towards your knees on your exhale. Swing your arms back up on the inhale and exhale as you swing arms down and curl your spine. Repeat these arm swings eight times. Stand tall and find stillness.
11 Visualize your heart capacity now living inside your spine. Open your whole body as a vessel of joy. Ground it to the earth, give it up to the sky, extend it like the sunrise, and greet your day with this wildly expansive and magnetic energy.

 Mara Branscombe is a yoga and meditation teacher, writer, mother, artist, ceremonialist, and spirit coach, who finds great joy in leading others along the path of self-transformation. She is passionate about weaving the art of mindfulness, self-care, mind-body practices, and earth-based rituals into her offerings. She lives in both Vancouver, Canada, and a cabin in the woods with her husband and two daughters. https://marabranscombe.com/

Ritual as Remedy by Mara Branscombe © 2022 Findhorn Press. Printed with permission from the publisher Inner Traditions International. www.InnerTraditions.com

Availability: Usually ships within 1-2 business days. Price: $18.99. To purchase this book visit B&N.com, Amazon.com, InnerTraditions.com, or your local bookstore


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