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Mind/Body/Spirit
by Turtledragon
Beltane 2003, Vol 1-3
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window
courtesy of WebSEEk

Spring Cleaning

Spring is a time of cleansing. "Spring cleaning" is an age-old activity. Windows are opened up and cleaned; floors are scrubbed; gardens are cleared. This is a good time to remove the clutter in our lives and open ourselves up to positive energy.

Spring cleaning can include more than just house cleaning. We can cleanse our bodies, minds, spirits and spaces spiritually as well as physically. This is a great time to consciously rid ourselves of toxins and waste on the inside, to begin anew. Let's throw open the windows of our souls and let fresh air refresh our spirits.

Purifying Our Bodies
There are many ways to purify our bodies. In some Native American traditions, sweat lodges are places for physical and spiritual cleansing. If sweat lodge practices are not available to you for cultural or physical reasons (they are too intense, for example, for people with elevated blood pressure), you can have a similar effect by drinking ginger tea and wrapping yourself up in a blanket to sweat, or by getting enough physical exercise to promote sweat.

exercise
courtesy of Microsoft Design Gallery Live

Exercise and sweat
If you are going to exercise, use common sense. Make sure that you go easy on the exercise if you are not used to it and don't try to lose a lot of weight, lift a lot of weight or do a lot of exercises straight off. Stretch before and after and have a warm up and cool down period. Start out with just a few stretches and exercises daily and build up slowly so that you can do just a little bit more every day. It is easy to overdo, so be careful and respect your body. A little bit of exercise every day is better than a little heavy exercise every once in awhile.

Remember that exercise can be a regular part of your life -- you exercise when you take a walk, play with the kids, rake or mow the yard. If you plan to do traditional exercises, start out small and build up slowly every day. Start with simple stretches and exercises, no more than 10 repetitions of any one on the first day. If you want to lift weights, work with a trainer so that you don't lift too much and hurt yourself. Aim for a calm state while exercising and tune in to your body. Pay attention; respect it when it's had enough. Stop before it hurts. Breathe slowly, evenly and deeply, keeping your mind clear. If your breathing is too shallow or too fast it is a signal to slow down and concentrate on making your breath deeper. (See Breath section below.)

Injured or Weak areas of the body
If a part of your body is weak or injured, be especially gentle with it. Never call any part of yourself names, saying "that's my bad leg". Your leg is not bad. Don't be angry at parts of your body that are weak or injured. Those parts of you have had a heavier load trying to compensate, and chances are they've done a very good job, so cut them some slack and appreciate the fact that it's not as easy for those parts to perform as it is for the other parts of you that aren't injured. You might want to spend some extra time going to that area of your body in your mind and talking to it gently, encouraging it and loving it. Giving it good energy. Smile to it and thank it for all its hard work. (This is a Chigong technique called the Inner Smile.)

Breath
Breath is vital to our health. Breath has two physical functions -- to exhale and expel toxic gas called carbon dioxide from the body, and second, to inhale oxygen into our body. Breath is so important and yet we tend to ignore our breath. With breath we would die. Many of us, however, do not make full use of our breath.

Breath can cleanse our emotions and psyche as well as our lungs and bodies. Breath can invigorate us, helping us to draw in good energy. This energy is called Chi by the Chinese, Ki by the Japanese and Prana by the Eastern Indians. It is our vital life force. Qigong equates the function of the blood with the function of chi and says that blood follows chi. Chi, like blood, can supply our body with the energy that it needs. We need both. The chi can focus the blood and nutrients into all areas of the body and improve circulation. In other words, if we can concentrate on the chi energy going to all parts of our bodies, the blood will follow, nourishing each cell of our bodies and each part of our spirits. Breath can be an important part of meditation, and also of life. If we breate shallowly we are cutting ourselves off from life; if we breathe fully we are able to get the ingredients we need to live fully.

First, make sure you breathe from your diaphragm and not your chest. To test this, place one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest. Notice as you breathe which hand goes out when you inhale and comes in when you exhale. Concentrate on your lower abdomen and imagine there is a balloon in your stomach that blows up as you inhale and deflates as you exhale. You may place your hands on your abdomen and imagine that with each breath the abdomen is expanding and pushing your hands away. As you imagine it, also do it. As you progress, imagine a glowing light that grows stronger and hotter with each breath, or a flower that opens and closes with each breath. Try to use the deepening of your breath to increase your chi.

Mantras
Mantras help focus the mind on a positive thought. Inhaling the word "Saht" and exhaling the word "Nahm" for example focuses and relaxes the mind. The words sat nam are a prayer meaning "bring truth". As you breathe, imagine truth and peace in the world and within yourself and those around you, or simply empty your mind and allow peace and truth to come. Notice that sound can be used to relax the mind and body.

The om (in three long sounds aaaahhhhhhhooooooooommmmmmmm) is amore famous mantra. As you intone the word let the vibrations fill you and relax you. The om symbol is also very peaceful to look at. This sound clears the mind, opens the chakras and nadis (energy centers in the body) and awakens the life force (prana). That is why this sound is often used to conclude a session of yoga and/or meditation. Feel free to make up your own sounds, words and thoughts as well.

mandala
courtesy of Goddess Mystic

Mandalas
Mandalas can also aide the mind and body in relaxing, releasing and balancing as well. Check the list of links at the end of the article for examples of mandalas and mantras.

Body Tapping
Gently tapping and massaging the body, especially the kidneys in the lower back, is a good way to help the body release toxins as well as to open the meridians. It also feels very soothing, improves circulation and strengthens the bones. Toxins accumulate not only in the kidneys, but also in the areas opposite the joints. Tapping the inside of the elbows, backs of the knees and neck and other joints is a good way to release those toxins. Tapping the backs of the knees and the bottoms of the feet is especially invigorating if you are tired.

Tap gently and do only one or two taps in a given area. If you tap too much and release too much at once, your body may have a problem dealing with so many toxins all at once. Tap from the shoulder down each side of each arm. Tap all around your head softly with your knuckles. Tap down the sides of your torso and front. Have a friend tap down the sides of your back or tap where you can't reach. You can swing your body, letting your arms dangle and gently hit/strike all the areas of your back in succession. You can also gently hit your back with a stick. This is a tapping that is similar to a massage and is done very respectfully to the body and is done with a loving intent, never the intent to harm or punish. Tap down the fronts, sides and backs of your legs and tap all around on your feet.

Massage and Meditation
Once you have tapped your body begin to gently rub it, imagining that you are rubbing warm glowing sunlight into each part. Massage your body with love. Smooth your aura. Let all the negative energy run off you as if you were in a waterfall and all the dirt is being washed away. Imagine a scene that makes you smile, standing in a field full of flowers, playing with a kitten, riding a horse, or whatever it is that gives you pleasure, and bring that energy into yourself. Allow yourself to smile and enjoy this vision, bringing the good energy into yourself.

massage
courtesy of Microsoft Design Gallery Live

Massage your abdomen every day to loosen old waste accumulated in your intestines. There are a lot of accupressure points along the abdomen that affect the various organ meridians. Massage with tiny circles in between the ribs as well. Notice the shape of your navel. If your belly button is not in the shape of an "O" it may be that there is tension pulling things off center. Massage around the belly button and outward in a spiral until you have massaged all the way under the ribs in a big spiral. Knead, scoop, and press the abdomen. This will help relax the areas of tension and help balance things and put everything in its proper place. You can read more about this technique in Mantak Chi's book Chi Nei Tsang: internal organ massage (first volume)

Other Ways of Purifying Ourselves
Many activities will purify the physical as well as the psychic energies around us. When you take a shower or bath, imagine that negative energies are being scrubbed and rinsed off with the grit and sweat of the day. As you rinse off, let the cares and worries of the day disappear down the drain.

Drinking water or warm tea helps us cleanse our bodies and can also cleanse our spirits if we drink with that intention.

aromatherapy
courtesy of Microsoft Design Gallery Live

Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy suggests that certain scents can cleanse and purify our space, calm our minds and relax us. Lemon, pine, and mint are invigorating scents; rose can reassure us and help heal our heart, bringing love and harmony. Anoint areas of your body, particularly ones that you are experiencing problems with, to lend the qualities of a scent to that area. You can consecrate yourself this way as well, anointing your hands for healing for example, your throat for speaking truth in love, your heart for only allowing good energy into it. You can also anoint each chakra with intention.

Note: Experiment with the oils first to make sure that you are not allergic! Some people have very sensitive skin. Never consume essential oils or place them on your tongue or in your mouth. Some may be poisonous to ingest. This can be said of herbs too -- be careful not to eat any herbs without first getting all the information you can on them and consulting a knowledgeable homeopath or herbal healer. Only take very tiny quantities at first to make sure you are not allergic or have reverse side effects.

feather
courtesy of Microsoft Design Gallery Live

Experiment. Find what smells make you feel best and use those to enhance the positive energy they emit. Some people prefer smudging, cleansing themselves psychically by blowing the smoke (using a feather) from a burning herb on to the aura/body. One such herb that is good for smudging is sage. Native Americans traditionally used this herb to cleanse their spirits, and used sweetgrass to call their ancestors in prayer. Sandalwood is said to cleanse, open and heal the seven major chakras.

Again, experiment to find the technique or scent that is right for you. Some enjoy spraying a scent into the air, but make sure that it is a nature oil essence and not an artificial chemical that is developed in a laboratory to imitate a smell. Also, be respectful of the people around you. If you work or live with people who are sensitive to perfumes, be careful that you do not wear or spray scents around that may irritate their allergies.

Meditation
Visualization and intention help to purify us and our space as well. Imagine that the toxins you expel are absorbed and transformed by the earth, and that the earth is providing you with good energy. In a true sense, science has proved that this is true. The carbon dioxide that we release into the air, though poisonous to us, is necessary for the plants to grow, and the oxygen that the plants expel is what we need to survive. Clean organic waste is used to fertilize the earth, and the earth returns to us fruits, vegetables and roots that nourish us.

cleaning
courtesy of Microsoft Design Gallery Live

Cleansing our Space
It is not just an accident that cleaning fluids are often scented with lemon and pine. They don't just smell nice, but they have an ancient history associated with cleansing and antiseptic properties. Of course it's not just the scent. Recreated chemically it may not have the same effect except for psychologically. The energies these plants and fruits offer, in their pure state, are cleansing in themselves. Silver RavenWolf suggests washing the walls with lemon water (squeeze a lemon into some water and say a prayer over it, or empower it with the intention to cleanse the negative vibrations from your dwelling). This is especially important when moving into a new abode.

fairy
courtesy of Spirit Online

Bless and consecrate your house. State your intention for only love and peace to dwell within these walls. Use your imagination. You might even want to imagine angels or elementals guarding your house, or flowers adorning it. Bring in whatever energy makes you feel good. As you wash, cleanse and straighten imagine that you are purifying the energy, releasing any stuck or bad energy. Imagine that the good energy is flowing in and around your house and all the rooms. You can also smudge, drum or rattle to dispel bad energies, or play/sing healing music while you clean.

Feel free to make up your own prayers, songs and visualizations to instill your intention. Use your intuition. Be creative! Just as you smiled to your body, smile to each room in appreciation and thankfulness, imagining the good things that will happen in that room. Your house is like a living organism. It is a good idea to offer sacred gifts to the land that your house or business is located on, along with a prayer for your safety. If you can connect with the guardians or caretakers of the land while in meditation and prayer this is a special blessing. You don't have to wait to see something with your eyes or hear it with your ears. If you are imagining seeing or hearing them then you may in fact be present with them. Honor and trust it if you are met in this way. It is a good idea to introduce yourself and state your good intentions even if you don't receive a confirmation for your visit. They are there and they are listening.

Let your intention, however you chose to embody it, be to purify, honor, bless, listen to, respect, be gentle with, strengthen and protect the areas in which you live and work. Fill the space with good energy. Use your mind to dedicate each room for its purpose. When you are in the kitchen "see" the wonderful food that is going to be prepared, if you are in the bathroom imagine yourself becoming clean there, cleansed from all your worries, healed from all your wounds, comforted. Imagine yourself enjoying a soothing bubble bath and letting all your cares float away. In the dining room imagine sharing food, nurturing self and others. In the living room, imagine laughing in the company of friends. In the study, imagine your creativity unleashed.

Feng shui is an ancient Chinese art of the placement of objects within a building to purify and promote good energy and luck. You can study the finer points of this system or you can just place something from each of the four elements in each corner, or somewhere in the room or house. Plants represent earth, a feather for air, water, and perhaps something red to represent fire. Obviously you need to be safe and work safety may prohibit the use of an actual candle flame. Never leave a candle flame unattended. You can acknowledge a heating system within a building (furnace) as your element of fire as well.

Plants in particular are very good for purifying and will absorb many negative energies, including invisible toxins from computers. They also brighten up the atmosphere and give you needed oxygen, particularly important if you have no windows or fresh air in a work environment.

Shielding
You will also want to shield as you do your spring cleansing and cleaning. Shield yourself, your children, your animals and loved ones, your house, car, office building. I like to put a shield around my car when I drive it, imagining large cushions or pillows of energy surrounding me and keeping other vehicles and objects away from me.

Ground
Make sure that you ground, grow your roots deep into the earth, like you are a tree, and out of your feet grow these roots. Connect with the earth and draw good energy from it. Imagine that out of the top of your body are branches and leaves that absorb good energy from the sky. Connect with the endless universal energies. Imagine everything in balance.

Center
Center yourself. Imagine your energy coming into your center, the center of your body, in the middle of your body between your navel and lower back. Let that energy feed all of your meridians, all the parts of your body.

Root- Ground- Connect- and Center.
The crux of it all is "out with the bad, in with the good". Whether you are purifying yourself, mind, body, heart, soul and spirit, or cleansing your space psychically and physically, let your intention manifest through whatever physical activity you choose, and let your intuition be your guide.

Graphics Credits
+ window, courtesy WebSEEk
+ exercise, courtesy of Microsoft Design Gallery Live
+ mandala, courtesy of Goddess Mystic
+ massage, courtesy of Microsoft Design Gallery Live
+ aromatherapy, courtesy of Microsoft Design Gallery Live
+ feather, courtesy of Microsoft Design Gallery Live
+ cleaning, courtesy of Microsoft Design Gallery Live
+ fairy, courtesy of Spirit Online

Further Resources
Spiritality links- Mandala, links to spiritual art, meditation and many other links
Mandalas

Simple Meditations
Meditations in Real Audio (real audio is free from www.real.com)
Beliefnet- Prayer and Meditaiton
Some Good Practical Suggestions for Relaxation

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