Hello! :)

Hello and welcome Beaver Moon!

Some of us are becoming more communal, others are slowly seeping into more isolation and hibernation. Neither is good or bad – what matters is: what needs of ours are not being met in our current life situation? and how we can best meet them in this season of rains, spookiness, letting go of leaves and everything else that may not be serving us?

In this issue:

But, before I jump into all those, let us share a smile…



:) 


Upcoming Offerings & Events: 


For the Body.

As I mentioned before, in TCM autumn is associated with Lungs and Large Intestines. However, Lungs in this case include more functions than just breathing – it encompasses the processes and transformations that air goes through within us, and thus has a direct affect on: Immune System (are you taking Vit C and Vit D yet?!), Skin health (it’s our largest organ and we breathe through it too), and Nasal passages (we breathe through our nose too).

And all these are the most weak in fall season. Here are some suggestions to support them, and apologies for repeating a few, they feel important enough to be worth repeating:

~ cover up your lungs(vests, scarves) – especially if you are heated up (like, after hot bath or sauna, or sweaty after a work-out). It may seem counter-intuitive: if you are feeling hot – you want to cool off and not wear any layers, right? Well, that’s our short-term-gratification speaking. On the other hand, think: when we heat up, our pores expand and open up extra much from the heat; when we, with these open pores, expose ourselves to wind or coolth or cold – these seep into the body a lot more readily through these extra open gates/pores! They are able to get a lot deeper in this case too… What about Finnish sauna, you ask? When they heat up in the sauna and then go out in snow or even dip in freezing cold water – they go back into sauna after the cold, which helps eject from their bodies any cold that creeped in while they were outside. That’s why it works and does not get them sick. And – this is also key: they bundle up a lot upon their final exit from the sauna, so that the last heat they absorbed remains in the body… Key take-aways here: after hot – if you expose yourself to cold, then go back to hot; bundle up after hot or sweat – including covering your head.

~ wear a hat that covers forehead. When our nose is stuffed continuously – it’s often our frontal lobe (forehead part of the brain, that’s pretty new in humans) feeling cold and outputting phlegm as a reaction. If not protected, this may develop into chronic nasal drip, but even more shittily – may have long-term negative effects on your brain and cognitive abilities.

~ clear out nasal congestion. Sniffing while having drippy nose all the time prolongs the issue as clean air is not able to airate and dry out the mucus. Gently removing the mucus (by blowing out into water or handkerchief or tissue; or through nasal baths, or nasal rinses or neti pot) as often as you can, and breathing in strong aromatics like clove oil, eucalyptus oil, lavender oil or shredded horseradish – will keep your “breathing apparatus” clear and healthy longer.

~ hydrate. Consider also if you hydrate enough – it’s easy to assume that drippy nose may mean lots of liquid in our body, but sometimes it’s quite opposite – the body is too dry and the liquid just isn’t getting absorbed, like when a house plant can be soooo dry – you water it, and water just leaks out!

~ eat warming/spicy foods and spices. In TCM’s Five Element Theory, the taste that corresponds to and supports lungs is spicy/pungent, which includes horseradish, wasabi, mustard, onion, radish, scalions, garlic, ginger, hot peppers. These stimulate blood circulation and reduce accumulation in the body; in excess they will irritate colon – listen to your body when is ‘enough’, and know that over time body adjusts and your tolerance may become greater.

~ allow tears, sadness, grief – these are emotions associated with fall in TCM. Rather than holding back, it is to allow ourselves to feel these, release, and replenish the fluids with warming soups and teas and mucilaginous (“slippery”) things like flax and chia seeds; and to care for ourselves with asking for support and caring touch and feeling warm (see notes above) and cozy and connected.

~ dry brushing(garshana in Ayurvedic medicine) stimulates and exfoliates skin, feels good, and drains toxins from lymphatic system into colon, thus effectively getting rid of them. Watch a few videos for methods and areas of body that it feels good for you to brush. Consider making it a bedtime ritual for yourself or with your kid or partner.

~ strengthen Immune System – can’t repeat it enough. With covid cases on the rise and flu season starting and holidays coming up (which means stress, travel, crowded places), there is no better time to step up our game: laughing and having fun, Vitamin C & D & magnesium, zinc, garlic, hot-cold-hot showers, enough exercise to get you sweating, enough hydration.

For the Mind. 

I invite you to make a sticky note (saying “W.A.I.T. why am I talking?”) and put it on your fridge for just a few days – and see it when you interact with others. Observe what happens…

This simple acronym has shown up in my life from multiple directions – and its power in my interactions has been unbelievable.

In most conversations that last longer than 5 minutes, I’ve been checking with myself – why am I talking? Sometimes I am legitimately sharing requested information, other times – I am just yapping, boring myself and my companion. When the latter happens – I stop, and ask, sometimes out loud: why was I sharing what I was sharing, was it helpful, shall we change the topic, how was my sharing so much feeling to you? Seriously, naming our own self-reflective commentary is powerful – I encourage everyone to try it. And this is just one simple idea to do that! WAIT – why am I still talking!? :)

For the Heart.  

At our recent gathering for Earthseed Community, after some singing and drumming around the fire, we dropped into a deep, genuine, vulnerable sharing. The topic offered was – what kind of wounds do each of us have that may prevent us from being in the community, from enjoying the feeling of belonging even when others accept us. What about you -

What kind of inner psyche wounds, what kind of patterns and thoughts have you developed as a result of past painful experiences – that hold you back from enjoying your connections, from feeling acceptance and belonging when it is being offered?

I have to admit, some of my internal dialogue included comments like “nobody ever offers me acceptance – I always have to work for it, I can never be accepted just the way I am” and “I dont belong anywhere – belonging is not made for me, I’m an outsider, always on the outskirts, always the weird one”. These may be true at times for me, for sure, if we drop blanket words like “ever”, “never”, “always”, etc. And, at the same time – when I ask those voices: “Is it true? Is it REALLY true?”, they know that often acceptance is ready and waiting for me to land into it, they know that certain groups and situations enable me to feel that I belong, that I am a part – not separate. When they know this, I know this.

So, what happens in my psyche that holds me back, blocks acceptance and belonging from coming my way? Thomas Huebl thinks of it as un-integrated, frozen-in-time parts of ourselves that are like black holes – skew all the good things coming to us, send them into void. Exploring our attachment styles (from Attachment Theory) can be first step to help identify if we pull away too far (avoidant) or push too hard (anxious) or both in relationships. Once we know that, we can reflect ourselves and interview close people about how they perceive us, what patterns they see in us. Connecting patterns today with patterns of attachment may trigger memories, deeper understanding, perhaps grieving, releasing, and hopefully – healing.

For the Spirit. 

I would like to bring this song at this time as the dark days are becoming darker, as we have more time to introspect and reflect on our imperfections. Going into the dark, looking at our own shadow selves – often, we don’t even choose to, but circumstances place us there.

And we have a few options, when darkness of the soul comes in. We can reject and push it away, refute, deny our part in it, dismiss, blame others, distract or numb ourselves from it. Or we can fully take it in, submit, dissolve into pain or self-pity, give in to depression or self-hatred. Or we can welcome it. Welcome it!? Yes, welcome it, knowing full well that we all have light sides and dark sides, knowing that to feel content and whole – both sides need to be honored at least some times, knowing that we are not alone – others’ “dark feet and dark wings” have been there before and will be there again...


To go in the dark with the light

by Wendell Berry

To go in the dark with the light is to know the light.

To know the dark – go dark. Go without sight

And find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,

And is traveled by dark feet and dark wings…


Here is how we sing it at ReTribe: https://soundcloud.com/retribe/to-know-the-dark

A few words from the author of this poem:

This fierce willingness to see everything is necessary to be fully present within the fulness of reality. It is necessary so that we do not wither in the face of confrontation. We must see suffering if we are to soothe wounds. And we must recognize cruelty that we may protect the vulnerable. To summon strength, we must recognize that conditions require strength. To express kindness and connection, we must see clearly who has been labeled an outsider… Today I will practice holding an unwavering gaze in the dark so that I may see what I see, whatever changes that may bring in me


To conclude…  

Thank you for reading this newsletter. And another than you to everyone who replies! I sooo appreciate when you respond, even with just a few words. And sometimes I don't have a chance to reply back, or lose track of who I responded - please forgive me, and do not consider me ungrateful or unresponsive if you can; I invite your words and your support and your wisdom and your sharing. I hope we continue staying in this email connection, until we are able to connect deeper in-person or through other, more direct, means. (Anyone figured out teleportation yet!?)

As always, to unsubscribe from communications in regard to the affairs of Smiling Spaces, please reply to this with subject 'Unsubscribe' - and no hard feelings on my part, I want to honor your needs and your interests.



Wishing you balance of body, mind, heart and spirit.

Warmly, 

Aliona @ Smiling Spaces 

 


Hello and welcome Hunter Moon, and blessings of the recent Autumn Equinox! :)
As Autumn Equinox has happened just a few days ago - I am feeling called to bring autumn into the focus in this newsletter – and share various ways how this season affects our bodies, mind, heart and spirit. I hope your experience of Corn Moon has been fulfilling, and this Hunter Moon will bring you clear mind, strong immune system and nourishing environment.

In this issue:
    • Upcoming events and other offerings
    • For our Body: strengthen Lungs and Colon and immune system, plus vitamin D for winter
    • For our Mind: immune system of the Mind
    • For our Heart: time of Sadness, Grieving, Justice
    • For our Spirit: song “I feel the winds of the west” by Ayla Nereo
But, before I jump into all those, let us share a smile…



:) 

Upcoming Offerings & Events:  

    • In-person workshops and events will begin happening in October in Brattleboro-Putney area.
    • NVC trainings – there are still a few spots in the groups for Wednesday mornings and evenings to begin in October. If you would like more info or are interested, please reply to this. Also, if you would like to meet in-person, let me know where you are located.
    • Internal Family Systems (IFS) practice – I am completing my Level 1 certification and am feeling ready to practice with public, at a discounted rate. Please reach out if you would like to book a session. Read more about IFS here.
    • Jonah teachings study group (on Zoom, or near Brattleboro,VT) – reach out if interested. Jonah has been my teacher for a number of years now – he shares a lot of psycho-spiritual insights, poses probing and challenging questions, suggests what to explore in ourselves and our lives to heal our deeper selves and create more joy and universal tranquility in our lives. “Intent is the building block of the outcome” is one of his core messages. I’d love to aggregate a group of spiritual warriors, interested in listening to pieces of his audios and discussing them, applying both critical thinking and introspection, perhaps supporting each other in making new choices based on what we learn. No commitment necessary, no prior experience necessary either. If you would like to hear some messages, there are a few available for download for free on their website: https://www.jonahlifestore.com/product-category/sale-of-the-month/ . Only note I have for you is – Jonah’s voice has a wide range, be prepared for possibly a few loud volume moments.

For the Body.  

Those of us living further north, including birds and animals and earth, are beginning to prepare for the winter – outfitting our homes, storing extra food, slowing down our pace of life. Have you noticed yourself doing it, or perhaps there is an unconscious drive to be slowing down after the summer activities, and maybe you didn’t quite tie it to the seasons before this?

Most important advice for fall – build your immune system! It could be as simple (and affordable) as drinking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar every morning, taking 1-2g of Vitamin C supplement, taking herbal tonics (reishi+chaga tinctures are my top choice; Fire Cider is a local favorite too), laughing ever more (laughter is best immune system booster, so: watching more comedies?), taking Vitamin D, also Zinc (a few times a week on full stomach), eat a tooth of raw garlic (rubbed on a hard toast? With a little mayo maybe? Yummm!) every few days to kill off unwelcome bacteria… There are many more tips you can research too, but the bottom line is – boost your body to be ready to combat cold and colds!

Speaking of Vitamin D - this is great time to begin taking your wintertime dose of Vitamin D and care for your lungs. I’ve spoken before about Vitamin D, so I’ll just briefly remind – most of us have low levels of Vitamin D, which our bodies produce naturally when our skin is exposed to direct hot sun and our body’s vitamins are in balance. When fall arrives, the sun for those of us in Northern hemisphere is simply not hot enough to give us the necessary dose, in addition to us bundling up and not exposing our skin to sunshine, plus the vitamin balance in our bodies could be off. So, many of us (exception may be: post-menopausal women) are best off supplementing our diet with this vitamin, especially into the winter. Low amounts of it in our bodies frequently result in weaker bones and teeth, and we are a lot more likely to get depressed in winter/darker times of the year. There are studies showing that higher levels are associated with fewer colds. So, I, living in Vermont, begin taking 2,000-5,000UI of Vit D daily after Autumn Equinox passes, all the way through the winter and at least until April. As it is fat-soluble, I try to take it when I eat butter or oils.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, autumn is the time when the most active organs are Lungs and Large Intestine, aka colon.
Consider the colds that begin happening in our culture usually in fall, as people begin aggregating more closely indoors – these colds affect our lungs and nasal passages, which are directly connected to lungs. Consider the rains and gloominess that come and keep us indoors, looking out through a window, reflecting, remembering, sometimes regretting, sometimes sobbing. Consider the winds that get colder every day, sneaking under our jackets, penetrating lungs, cooling our foreheads as we are not yet wearing hats – so that nasal congestion easily develops. All these natural occurrences are pointing to the need to strengthen lungs, especially in this time of year. To strengthen your lungs, you can do simple breathing exercises, as well as eat and drink beneficial things, smell specific smells (aromatherapy). For example:
Lung-Strengthening Exercise: slowly breathing out fully-fully-fully until you don’t have a single droplet of air in your lungs to the count of 8, then count to 4, then slowly breathe in for the count of 8 into your full lungs, then hold your breath to the count of 4. Repeat that 4-6 times whenever you remember, and do it ideally in the environment with clean air.
The color of Autumn and Lungs is white in TCM, so many white foods are especially nourishing at this time: I especially like daikon radish, as it is warming, versatile (eat raw with salt and olive oil, or steamed, or roasted) and delicious.

I recently heard a doctor say, “Our health is defined by how much we need to wipe after we poop – in good health we, like animals, don’t need to wipe at all.” Unfortunately, I don’t remember who and when said that, but this thought really stuck with me. In my exploration, I’ve discovered one easy food for supporting our colons, facilitating bowel movements, as well as having an amazing nutritional value (Omega 3s!) and potential to taste yummy based on what you add to it. It is… chia pudding for breakfast! Chia seeds are full of goodness, yet affordable and easily preparable and enhanceable. Being “slippery” in a pudding form, it slides through your intestines, helping other things slide out along the way. It also moistens the walls of it, thus hydrating the tissues and facilitating peristalsis.
The basic recipe is: 3 tablespoons of chia seeds + 12 tablespoons of water (ratio chia:liquid as 1:4).
It works best if you first (1) add any other dry ingredients into chia seeds – like nutmeg, cinnamon, spirulina, collagen or any other powders, cacao, matcha tea, maca, etc. And mix all that. Then, (2) add half the amount of water (instead of water, I use half-water (usually, extra warm) and half-milk or other beverage) and mix well. Then, (3) keep slowly adding the rest of the liquid while mixing. And, (4) best if you leave it overnight, or for at least 30 min for chia to really expand and absorb the water so that it can bring it into your belly already soaked and expanded. Before consuming, I like to add seeds, berries, pieces of fruit or other goodness for flavor and more nutrition.
My friend Hannah cautions against eating chia raw or freshly-mixed (in smoothies, for example) because if chia hasn’t fully absorbed water outside your belly, it will keep sucking in water once you consume it, and that will dehydrate you weirdly and may cause cramps.

In general, in regard to foods in this season, cook them well, and specifically in this time of the year avoid mixing dairy and meat foods (according to book “The Joy of Self Healing” by H.Harrison and A.Raisch).

For the Mind. 

I invite us to return to something I said above – building up our immune system in Autumn. While above I gave some tips to build up our physical immunity, I actually refer to the Immune System of all bodies – mental, emotional, spiritual. What does it mean to you – immune system of the mind? What does it look and feel like - for you?
When I speak of it, I refer to immunity against manipulations and fears, against boredom, against toxic emotions from others, against irrelevant chatter and unhelpful nervousness. I refer to cultivating clear thoughts, feeling of direction and purpose, finding and listening to the “inner compass”, “the Higher Self”, the soul. I refer to discovering what feels authentic and in integrity, and beginning to live it a little at a time – like a tree that you are, finding the stem (the trunk) and beginning to fortify, to strengthen it by respecting and living what you consider good; thus strengthening it and creating immunity from any parasites and diseases that may want to trample this inner tree of yours. Strong immune system of the mind – is a strong inner core/tree, with clear mind, not swayed easily by the winds/opinions/emotions/events of the outer world.
For those of us open to the idea of “energies” – it is cultivating our own energy so as not to allow harmful effects from other energies.

For the Heart.  

The emotions associated with Autumn are grieving, sadness, justice. It makes sense, doesn’t it?
The busy summer with time-off for many people has brought a lot of energy, and in fall, we slow down and integrate those experiences, as we often stay more local and perhaps return to our work and our routines. Many of us evaluate our relationships, and sadness often arises in this process – who has come, who has gone, what’s different this fall from last one, what and who I will be “taking into the cave” with me for the winter? With rains and winds of not-so-distant winter, we sometimes feel called to cry or sob, mourning what’s been lost or let go of. Loneliness may creep up as well: after a summer of activity and people around, we find ourselves alone a lot more, without as many events and distractions going on, without vacationing family and friends, without neighbors hanging out on their porch ready to chat. A lot of things are being let go of – and that is natural, seasonal, necessary in many cases. Being with these emotions is not natural for many of us – indeed, in Western culture, looking at losses and death is almost a taboo. Recognizing that, we can consciously make a choice to allow ourselves to respect what’s coming up and let it be, knowing it will pass: feel the emotion in our body (where does it show up? What part of the body is activated?), breathe into it (regular-paced deep breathing into the activated parts), and allow the mourning process to happen (as thoughts may come and go, journaling on them is often a great tool to express and make sense of the inner world: if this Inner Sadness could speak, what would it say?) Supporting your process will help you move through it: allow sufficient time and privacy, drink warm liquids to replenish tears and sweat, find coziness, maybe light a candle or take a bath, maybe call up a loved one and connect for a bit, maybe find a light-hearted movie to balance you out in the end of the day.

For the Spirit.  

Ayla Nereo has an incredible way to bring emotion simply with her voice and words. Here is one example – a song “The Winds of the West” calls to let go of things in the time of fall, as the trees let go of leaves, and “to prepare for the silence” of winter. Here is the link to youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8EOadAsAVo, and below are the lyrics, which are repeated 4 times in the song, as the words sink in deeper and become like a prayer or a mantra. I hope you find it supportive this fall:
The Winds of the West
by A. Nereo
I feel the winds of the west;
Out breath;
Letting go of my leaves -
All I do not need
Into the darkness of the fall sunset.
I release, receive, getting ready for the silence...


To conclude…  

Thank you for reading this newsletter. I always feel deep gratitude when you share that you’ve read it, or when you comment or reply about something. I am finding it difficult to put this out on  New Moons last few times – and I wonder if that is because new moon is actually the time to go within, yet my writing a letter out into the world is the opposite? I wonder… I’ve also opened a new chapter in life, having moved to Putney in south Vermont into what’s looking like a little community in a house, with 3 part-time kids and 3 of us adults with lots of kid energy! It’s fun, and stretching, and strengthening, and inspiring, and exciting, and fulfilling in many ways.  One great aspect I appreciate is ability to host visitors in this somewhat small space – so consider yourself invited for a visit, a dinner, a sleep-over, a walk or hike, a dance, a drum circle, a deep conversation, a run through a cemetery and much more! :)


To subscribe to future communications in regard to the affairs of Smiling Spaces, please email us at smile_spaces@pm.me with subject 'Subscribe'.
To un-subscribe from communications in regard to the affairs of Smiling Spaces, please email us with subject 'Unsubscribe' - and no hard feelings on my part, I want to honor your needs and your interests.

Wishing you balance of body, mind, heart and spirit.
Warmly, 
Aliona @ Smiling Spaces 
 

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