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ifcullen

....still seeking world peace
ifcullen has written 11 posts for Astrology: The Yoga of Time & Space

NEW

Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute:

What you can do, or dream you can, begin it:

Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.

Only engage and the mind grows heated;

Begin and then the work will be completed.

(Goethe)

There are 13 lunar cycles to a calendar year of 12 months, 13 opportunities for new beginnings.

The New Phase of the Moon initiates the waxing half of the lunar cycle. Waxing means growing in light, representing formative processes. Dane Rudyhar writes that the waxing time represents the “power of instinct”. Thus, during the two-week waxing period we need to express our spontaneity and instinctive behaviors. Beginning is paramount; outcome is incidental.

At the New Moon the sky is dark. The exact time of it by direct observation is impossible. Metaphysically, the dark represents the unconscious mind, individually and collectively. It is a reflective time, a time to be open and receive clues from the Universe.

The phase begins with a gradual emergence that feels like unfinished business or something pressing to do, but,  you’re not sure what it is, it’s “dark” out. If we neglected to do our mental/emotional/spiritual housecleaning during the previous phase/cycle, it requires effort to shake off the lethargy and the hovering ghosts.

The new phase also represents the passage from nothingness to the more active part of the cycle. It is the stillness behind the motion, the state of suspension before the birth, steeped with hope, possibilities,  and significant beginnings.

It’s an interesting practice to investigate the space between endings and beginnings.  May find that both happen at the same time, and time becomes a wheel.

During these days/months we need to express energy instinctively. Becoming attuned to ourselves and less focused on the external environment, unless you practice spiritual feng shui in your home. This period may also be experienced as a state of confusion, being completely in the dark about the “why” of our actions. Spontaneity and impulsive actions are okay to practice now. Like Nike said, Just Do It.

When the sun and the moon come together at the New Moon, our sense of purpose and our unconscious responses become one and the same, blending their energy. Yin and Yang are one, briefly.

It is a time to trust our unconscious and let it be our guide. The Universe will open the door now. Watch, listen, pay attention to what you attract.

If you are astrologically literate and familiar with your natal chart take notice of where the new moon falls. What house is it in and does it aspect any of your planets?

It seems logical to begin things during the time of the new moon. After all it does represent beginnings! However, because the unconscious element is so prevalent at this time take heed. The results you get from starting projects during a new moon may not always be the results you plan for. The unconscious is in control during this time. And, sometimes, most times, our unconscious is a mystery.

I recommend you use this phase to practice being in the moment, aware of sensations in the body, thoughts, emotions, and breath. Give your self some moments of long stillness and then give yourself permission to be (safely, responsibly) impulsive. Let it be okay to not have a goal, or make a new one. Watch what comes to you. Journal.

Later, after a few cycles have completed you can look back and see the significance of the events that began at this time.

Coming:  Yoga Practices for the New Moon

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Tropical or Sidereal?

Did you know that there are two zodiacs?

The difference between them is largely a question of measurement and how and where to begin measuring. Volumes have been written and it’s not necessary for our purposes here to go into it in any detail.

The tropical zodiac is mostly used by western astrologers and looks at the sky with reference to the solstice and equinox points. Then they divide the sky up into twelve 30-degree segments and there you have it.

The sidereal zodiac is primarily used by vedic astrologers and is more closely related to the actual placement of the stars in their constellations.

The actual difference between these two zodiacs is approximately 23 degrees depending on which astronomer or astrologer you consult.

Although I do not consider myself either a western or an eastern astrologer, I can’t help but think that the Siderealists are more connected to ‘reality’ since they are looking at the sky as it is, rather than observing it as a mathematical construct. That said, the symbolism of the outer planets which are ignored by the jyotishi’s, is vitally important during these changing paradigms.

Recently there has been some discussion about the 13th zodiac sign and the shifting dates of each of the other 12 signs. This seemingly contradictory information has been discussed for many, many decades and does not in anyway diminish the validity of astrological analysis.

Astrology works.

Saturn – The Lord of Karma

Much has been written about this giant in the sky. He has a heavy reputation and carries the weight of responsibility whereever he goes. Whether you follow the Vedic or the Western system of astrology, Saturn marks time passing. He is both the measuring stick and the obstacle, creating boundaries and limitations everywhere. Perhaps all those rings that surround the planet reminding us that all of us are tied up somehow?

Many excellent astrologers have written extensively about Saturn and by all means do your own research.

Saturn’s cycle around the sun takes approximately 28 years give or take a few months. If you divide 28 by 4 you get the infamous Seven-Year Cycle that psychologists and economists have always cautioned us about. And, it’s true. Every 7 years Saturn reaches a particular place in it’s orbit which creates a particular tension in either our relationships, our career, our health, or our family. Every 7 years, a big decision needs to be made.

The study of the Saturn cycle in more detail provides us with a lot more detail about that 7th year.

Saturn is represented within the Mulabandha, the first chakra. Saturn is also represented by our bones and joints, particularly the hips and knees. It makes sense to me that the lord of the clock has rulership over the parts of our body that ‘move us forward’ …or not. Feeling stuck is a common symptom of saturn’s effects.

Every 28th year we get to reset the clock. Saturn has moved thru a complete cycle and returned to where it was at the time of your birth.

As we age, we get to add whatever wisdom we have gained to the similar circumstances coming around today. Yoga therapy is helpful here.

…….to be continued

The Map

ida_chakra_diagram.jpg

The Effects of Time on the Body

How we perceive the passage of time depends on how define the word time. Consider this. Scientists define time as something that is mathematical and linear, at least before quantum physics began to shake up that definition. When someone asked A. Einstein what is time, he replied, “what a clock reads.” Philosophers and spiritual seekers believe that time is subjective depending on the nature of our experience. Ram Dass writes, “time is the relationship between moments of consciousness”.

Biologists see time passing as a link between the rhythm of internal processes to the regular rhythms of the outside world such as mating seasons, and the cycle of growth/death of most vegetation. Corporate Executives and politicians see time as something to control as Golda Meir exclaimed, “I must govern the clock, not be governed by it. Everyone has their own way to relate to time.

Astrology views time as a cyclical experience rather than the linear view most others have.

The effects of time on the body has been well documented. Aging is easy to see. When we look closely, minute daily changes steadily progress to  larger, physical changes. Small lines become deep wrinkles. Slight aches become crippling joints. Body postures once limber and upright, become hunched, rounded, and appear to carry tremendous weight on the back. All of this becomes visible over the course of time.

Although things like poor diet, lack of exercise, substance abuse, and ignorance can contribute to this apparent deterioration, time also plays a part. Our awareness of time passing becomes translated into the body. If we believe that we are supposed to age , deteriorate, and get sick as we get older, then that is exactly what will happen. In Japan, many insurance companies are paying out large sums of money to the widows of overworked business men. They call it hurry sickness or kashori and it shows up as sudden death in the workplace. Our perception of not enough time certainly adds to this modern day illness. And that’s exactly the point. It’s our perception of time that holds the key to releasing the stress we feel. Sometimes time goes very slowly, as if one minute or even a few seconds feels like years. Have you ever had a car accident? Perhaps spun out on the road in bad weather? The consciousness slows down and you can sometimes witness the loss of control of the car as if it were happening in slow motion. Other times, time passes very quickly. Vacations, weddings, happy occasions tend to ‘speed’ up time so that 1 week can fly by as if it were one hour.

The key to time management is to learn to recognize cycles, phases, and patterns rather than months, days and hours. To develop the ability to flow with the passing time rather than to fight the clock. There is a certain rhythm in the world that supercedes any manmade time telling device and this rhythm remains constant, stable, and secure and is not subject to the whims of man who we know makes mistakes. Continue reading

Yoga & The Pre-Natal Eclipse

Looking backwards can be a useful practice at times; especially when you’re pregnant.

We’ve all had the experience of being gestated in a womb.  At least I hope so, still **.  Things are changing so fast now, so much more is possible with the advances (?) of science.  Things just don’t stay the same;  impermanence is the nature of all things.

The environment of the womb is not isolated or separate from the larger world, and  the mother is subject to external conditions & circumstances beyond her ability to control or even process!  Her emotions, thoughts, behaviors, and beliefs are transmitted loud and clear into the fetus.  The watery womb is the perfect medium by which energetic,  non-verbal information enters the fetus affecting not just the physical growth, but the mental and emotional growth as well.  Everything that is happening outside of the womb, happens in the womb, too.  As above, So below.

eclipseAstrology provides a unique insight into one’s pre-natal conditioning and can give you some important information that might have gone un-realized until right now. I am speaking of the Pre-Natal Eclipse. Astrologers locate this by looking back in the ephemeris to find the eclipse that occurred just before your birth. It could be either a solar or lunar eclipse.  Where it was located in the zodiac is where the information is stored. It’ll show up in your natal chart in one of your houses (bhava).

It is a significant place in the natal chart to study, particularly if you are pregnant, have had children, or want to.  It describes the cosmic weather that was and still is in effect during your own gestation.

If you are curious and determined to become more self-aware regardless of where it takes you than you might want to arrange for a consultation with a professional to talk about your personal pre-natal experiences because whether you understand astrology or not the conditions (external & internal) that were present during the ime of the pre-natal eclipse have marked you just as significantly as your personal DNA.

The more we can understand our own Birth Story/History the more we are able to understand and create optimal conditions for the future children we carry in our wombs.  Yes?  No?

Yoga teaches us that the time is (always) NOW.   One of my teachers impressed upon me that what we feel, we heal and what better time to heal oneself?  We all want what’s best for our children.  Becoming a parent, a mother most especially, is such a unique experience.  The more we practice yoga, on and off the mat, the more we become aware of the myriad of sensations, thoughts, feelings, and insights that occur without pause, inside of us.  This is a moment of transformation, this new awareness.  We can intentionally insert a “change” order, if we are so inclined.  Regardless, taking one conscious breath while you continue to observe, is all that is necessary.

The whole birthing process has changed. The advances of  modern science & technology are competing with the previous advances of mid-wifery and natural birth.  The natural flow of intuition is being silenced by society and many women do not know what it means to ‘trust your body’.  It is vitally important that we remember who we really are.

to be continued…………………….

**Today, as I edit this post again,  the date is July 31, 2013 and it’s 6:45 am.  I watched a debate recently on a show called, Intelligence Squared.  The topic debated:  Should we genetically engineer babies?

Om shanti, shanti, shantihi.

Case Study

A typical yoga therapy session:

Female, 49 yrs. 5’5″, 180, thining dyed hair, round. Although I do not have a birth-chart to refer to, the fact that she is 49 is enough to remind me which cycles usually dominate our life experiences during the years around 50.

Chiron’s cycle is approximately 50 years. The wounded healer, heals.

She arrived before me for our session and was eager and willing to fill out intake forms.

We spoke about the program and this session in particular. We agreed to follow the yamas & niyamas for our work together.  We did this by practicing co-listening techniques in order to develop a clear channel for communication.

She describes herself as exhausted, and can feel some obstruction in the heart & throat area. She recently suffered from pneumonia and continues to be concerned about her health. She felt it was a wake-up call of some sort and wanted to pay closer attention.

She is frustrated with her current career. Although she loves being a teacher, she feels stuck in her current position. It feels like a long, hard struggle and she’s out of energy.

We discussed different yoga practices that can be of benefit to her if she chooses to commit to a ‘practice’ at all.

For the experiential part of our 1st session we spent time doing a seated body scan thru the kosha’s. Periodically, I would ask her to write/draw/record her awarenesses on some paper.

By the time we finished with the kosha’s she had experienced quite an ‘energetic’ shift inside and was quite amazed at what she had discovered. Most notable was that the entire left side of her body was numb when compared to the right. The imbalance was enlightening in and of itself to her in that moment.

We completed our session with savasana, pranayama and meditation.

During meditation, we explored Anjali Mudra in some detail paying attention to the sensations in each fingertip, it’s proximity to the heart chakra, its guiding the energy upward, etc.

I guided her back to the previously blocked throat area and encouraged her to chant om for a short while, and I noticed that each om sounded stronger than the one before it.

She felt like there was more work to be done, and seemed quite at peace and possibly enthusiastic about what might come next.

She left feeling well-balanced, energetic, and relaxed.

I could have taken an entirely different tactic with this women, and spent our time together working more on asana’s and that would have been okay, too. However, in my mind, asana’s and Chiron just don’t go together very well unless you have a committed client who will be returning often. At this point in time she was unable to commit to more than one session at a time. (I usually encourage everyone to commit to 6 sessions, however that can be a financial/economic burden in 2009.) Chiron and Neptune are closely aligned these days, so for those clients around 49 yrs of age, their particular crisis in this moment requires a spiritual (neptune), healing (chiron) flavor to it. Much of what happens during guided healing/therapy sessions happens on the subtle & causal layers of the body. To some it’s very, very, “woo-woo”. To others, it’s safe, non-invasive, and easy to participate.

Consciousness and the Evolutionary Journey

Each zodiac sign has a core truth that only time spent in a human body can accomplish. Few of us display the virtues of our sun sign at birth. In reality, it takes at least a Saturn cycle of experience (approx. 28 years) to connect with and live from the essence of our Sun sign. Before that, most of us are operating from our moon sign and moving thru the world with habitual and unconscious response patterns. As we approach our first Saturn Return we begin to understand what the essence of our Sun sign is all about and we begin to make a conscious transition from habitual patterns (moon) to conscious living.

One thing that I find most interesting about natal-chart astrology is that you can’t tell by looking at a chart the level of consciousness of the individual. Jeffrey Green in his wonderful book on Pluto- The Evolutionary Journey of the Soul writes about four states of evolutionary conditioning that are not revealed by the chart.

The first state is what he describes as the “dimly evolved” state and encompasses about 3% of the population. It is quite doubtful that we as yoga therapists will come in contact with these individuals as many of them are severly mentally deficient.

The second state he calls the herd state and about 75% of the population falls into this category. He describes these individuals as those who comply with the social/cultural norms of the day. They rarely question their beliefs and are happy to follow mainstream thinking and behavioral patterns.

The third state which holds about 20% of our population ( and growing by my observation) he labels the individuated state. These people question the beliefs and norms of society and look to develop their individuality. Many of them are drawn to yoga and the other spiritual practices which teach from the inside out. Self-discovery is their chosen methodology for learning.

The fourth state of about 3% of human beings is the spiritual state where one lives from a universal state of consciousness. These individuals have moved beyond the individualized state and and attempt to align themselves with the timeless, universal state of being. Jesus, Buddah, Mohammed are the primary examples of what is possible in this state.

In order to support our clients/students it is important to recognize which evolutionary state they are operating from and work from there. Those in the herd state will require patient understanding and acceptance before they can move to the third, individualized state. When working with others it is always important to meet them where they are before you attempt to move them. Yoga & yoga therapy supports experiential learning so rather than using dialogue to explain the different states it is much more effective to design experiences that will help them discover for themselves a more enlightened way of being.

Self-Inquiry………………

When we make self-inquiry part of our daily spiritual practice we allow ourselves the bliss of integration.

Do you like to do jig-saw puzzles? There a lot of high’s and low’s  show up with that particular past-time. The Missing Piece, Turning the Corner, Completing the Frame, ……….and then the Moment of Completion! Or, maybe, The Agony of Despair because completion is impossible.

Life is like that. Every day a new piece, a new set of colors, shapes, and sizes to breathe with. Perspective is the key and not until we have done some serious self-inquiry can we hope to regain balance and harmony in our life.

There are times during the course of a month/year/life that are really optimum for self-inquiry practices.

Go to this post on one of my other blogs for more on self-inquiry.

The Balsamic Phase of the Moon

The moon returns to darkness once again. Perhaps you can see the slightest sliver of light remaining. Sigh. We’re tired. Something inside is calling for rest, retreat, and rejuvenation. The balsamic phase is the time when we need to honor that feeling, and honor ourselves for all the work and effort we have expended during the previous cycles. This phase of the moon beckons us to turn our attention inward, to the deepest parts of ourselves. It is the time to connect with spirit and the divine energy that lies within. And, if we are not in touch with those aspects of ourselves then perhaps this is the time to search for it.

Many of the eastern philosophies speak of the light that resides within. God is to be found on the inside, deep within oneself. Our disconnection from that source of light within may indeed be part of the problem that permeates society today. Many times when I tell my clients and students to use this balsamic time for meditation, contemplation, soul-searching or prayer they look at me like I’m crazy. “I don’t have time for that” is a common response. There’s “too much to do, too much work, too many responsibilities”.

“But, I wish I could”, is a communal sad song. Well, this is the time to take the time for inward-oriented activities. And, the amazing, magical result of pursuing this inward journey at this particular time is the reduction of stress and the feeling & experience of having more time throughout the rest of the cycle.

The Balsamic Phase of the Moon is when our system is crying for psychic detoxification. It’s the perfect time to pause and reflect on all events and activities of the recent past. A ‘letting go’ time, when we acknowledge ourselves for doing the best we could. Or, if we weren’t able to do our best, we acknowledge ourselves for trying and then let it go.

What does it mean to let go of something? One hears this expression a lot these days. On one level I think it means to not worry or be concerned with outcome. Replace the energy spent on mental/emotional anguish and instead practice cultivating the energy of faith, trust and stillness. The Bhagava Gita gives very explicit instructions for how to do this and the balsamic phase is the time to practice more intently.

During the balsamic period the veil between the conscious and the unconscious is thin. Therefore, it is also a good time to pay more attention to our dreams. Dreams come from the Vijananamaya Kosha, one of our subtle bodies according to Yogic Philosophy. Our higher mind usually has some very important information and dreams are a way of communicating with ourselves. Sometimes they may even take on a prophetic tone. Our need to daydream, fantasize or simply escape our everyday realities is a natural tendency that requires attention just like any other health routine me might employ. We all need time to be alone and connect with ourselves. Long walks or drives, frequent naps, listening to music, connecting with nature, journaling, painting, dancing, practicing yoga, tai chi, chi gong, reading, or just sitting staring out a window are all befitting activities for these days.

In psychological terms this lunar phase is when we are more connected to the collective unconscious. This is a term used most frequently within the Jungian tradition of psychology. Freudians might refer to it as the unconscious or supra-conscious mind. People have created different words for the same concepts for eons. The point is that there is a part of our mind that works from a different operating system than the rest of our mind. And this ‘hidden file’ is very busy connecting to the ethereal WWW all the time.

So, perhaps the most important thing to really understand is that if you do not honor this time, if you continue your daily life and your routine without including “downtime’, then you will not feel energized and refreshed when the next cycle begins. At first the effects of this may not be apparent. However, over time, if you continue to ignore your inner world and focus only on the external the stresses will accumulate and can create obstacles, dis-ease, and crisis in your life.

Without adequate time for pause and reflection, the body/mind/spirit will rebel and hopefully send you some clear signals that things are out of balance. When that happens our lives begin to spin seemingly out of control. We find ourselves in dysfunction, dis-ease, and disarray. And as a result something may happen by which we are then forced (by some external factor?) to give up our routine. Either we land in a hospital, or we are down-sized, laid-off or fired. Either way, we are now forced to use our time to reflect because now we have no other choice. Fate or Free Will……..make your choice.

It’s so much easier to voluntarily step back from our routines then to have them forcibly removed from us. This is the gift of the Balsamic Phase of the Moon. Two days out of every 28 day cycle can go really far in preventing & healing accumulated stress.

©Time & Space Consulting. All rights reserved. This article is an excerpt of my book in progress.

Disclaimer #2

Some of the posts/articles here are unedited first drafts. I have found that it's more important (for me) to just get the words out and clean up the errors later. Slowly I am beginning to edit what I've written and present the material in a more polished form. Some day, I hope to publish much of this material in print (rather than virtual). Of course, the way the planets have been spinning around lately, that may have become an impossible dream?

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