Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Halloween - In Between Time




Some say that at Halloween the veil between the worlds becomes thinner for a time. Perhaps it is because Halloween is a liminal, or in between, sort of time.  Halloween was called Samhain by the Celts. In modern Gaelic, Samhain is the name for the month of November.  It’s also the traditional beginning of the winter season. Halloween is really Samhain Eve, or the night before the beginning of November and an entry into the time of winter and the darker time of the year. It’s a time when the light is fading and we are encouraged to go inside, literally and figuratively. It’s also a time when images of the supernatural are invoked, surrounding it with an otherworldly type of energy.

There is something mystical about the in between times. Samhain/Halloween is in between summer and winter. All places and times that are in between are magically potent. Because it is neither summer nor winter but something in between, it is symbolically connected to both. In magical thinking, that also connects it to both ordinary reality and spiritual reality.

Some other examples of in between times and places are: midnight, noon, dusk, dawn, thresholds, gates, Midsummer Night, Winter Solstice, and May Eve/Beltane (between winter and summer) and of course, the time of gestation when babies are living in both worlds – the spiritual and the physical, awaiting entry into this one.  Even at the time of death, there is a period where many have seen their loved ones “between the worlds” as they ready themselves for that transition. These in between times are also traditionally associated with mystical themes of angels, spirits, fairies, and magic. Think Shakespeare and his play A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

This week allow for an immersion into this deep space of liminal, numinous, in between energy, this time when the veil between the worlds is thin and we can feel both the invisible as well as the visible. Allow your sensitivity to increase. Feel the essence of this time of living in the in between. Relax and really listen to the stirrings of your own soul.

This week's Happy Healthy You! podcast with Aleya Dao will inspire you to find your own connection to spirit all year long.  Namaste and Happy Halloween!


Monday, October 26, 2015

The Problem with Halloween

I'm a little bit of a killjoy when it comes to All Hallows Eve or Halloween. I don't believe that a holiday that revolves around children should be so focused on scary images of death. And then there's all that sugar. That said, trick or treating is just plain fun and a chance to dress up and visit neighbors and friends.
Here's the scoop on Halloween and why we celebrate it:
In general the whole custom of Halloween was brought to America in the 1840's by the Irish immigrants who were fleeing the country's potato famine.
Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain (pronounced “sah-win”). The festival of Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture. Samhain was a time used by the ancient pagans to take stock of supplies and prepare for winter. The ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped and the deceased would come back to life and cause havoc such as sickness or damaged crops.
The evil side of Halloween was pushed forward mainly by the church. The church maintained that the gods and goddesses and other spiritual beings of traditional religions were diabolical deceptions and manifestations of the devil. Therefore the customs associated with Halloween were always represented by the church as being evil - ghosts, human skeletons, symbols of the dead, Satan and other creatures such as witches.
On this week's Happy Healthy You! podcast we talk about spirits, but in a beautiful and loving context. We talk about connecting to our own spiritual selves and the infinite beings that we all are. Nothing is scary but it is hallowed to be sure. 

Hope you have a safe, happy and healthy All Hallows Eve!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Heart of the Matter

In this week's podcast Mary Sidhwani, PhD talks about ‪#‎healing‬ from anything that shakes us to the core. In her case it was a an unexpected diagnosis. The heart ‪#‎chakra‬ is the energetic center that connects our upper, more spiritual energies with our lower, more grounded energies and allows us to transmute stress, fear, anxiety, anger and other negative emotions to higher vibrations of love, joy and ‪#‎peace‬. Working with the energies of the heart can transform any situation into an opportunity for growth, expansion and ‪#‎awakening‬ to a more spiritual reality. Simply sitting and breathing into the area of the heart is a really good start. ‪#‎Yoga‬ poses like camel, cobra and forward fold, combined with breath can help as well. Taking time to visualize healing light (green or pink are the colors associated with this chakra) flowing all around the area of the heart can be very soothing to the body-mind. ‪#‎Forgiveness‬‪#‎gratitude‬ and ‪#‎love‬ are other exercises that will strengthen this vital energy center and help you move through challenging times with grace and ease. For more ideas, listen to this week's Happy ‪#‎Healthy‬ You! ‪#‎podcast‬ on itunes, Stitcher or www.conniebowman.com/happyhealthyyou.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Awesome Power of Our Words

The Awesome Power of Our Words

In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God.    
James 1:1 

Words are alive, cut them and they bleed.      
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care, for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or evil.    
Buddha 

Death and life are in the power of the tongue.     
Proverbs 18:21
Look, I know I say the word “awesome” a lot in my podcasts. It’s a conscious choice. I love the word. I first heard it when my kids were younger and they were describing something they loved.  They often dragged it out (awwwsooomme!) when they really liked something.

I loved the way I felt when I heard them describe something using that adjective. It gave my soul a little lift to hear them passionately talk about their interests, their friends, anything. It raised the vibration in the room.
(Remember the Beach Boys song “Good Vibrations”?)

Now that they are older, I don’t hear the word as much and I kind of miss it. So I have taken to using it myself to talk about things that really excite me in a positive way. Synonyms for awesome are equally auspicious: breathtaking, magnificent, wonderful, amazing, stunning, impressive… They are all nice, but none of them quite reach the heights of awesome.  For me, awesome is just…well, awesome!

Here’s an excerpt from The Gift of Language and Your Conscious Choice for Change by Michelle Arbeau:

Regardless of the language we speak, words connect us on a far deeper level than just getting our point across. Each word carries its own energetic vibration and can have a profound impact on the quality of our lives. The gift of language allows us to become active creators from the moment we utter our first word. When a child transitions from vocalizing sounds to speaking words, it is a celebrated event. More than just a developmental milestone, it marks the day when a child enters the realm of conscious creation. Conscious choice replaces natural instincts, and the child begins the journey of creating his or her destiny.

The words we choose are so important and can raise or lower the vibration of the room in a second. Think about the words love, joy, peace, compassion, courage. Just the thought of those words evokes a positive wave that permeates the air. Thinking about these words is good, but saying them is a powerful way to shift the energy for the better.


I am partial to the word awesome, as you know if you listen to my podcasts. I hope you will think about the words you are choosing on a regular basis and maybe amp them up a bit. This world could use a little more awesomeoness. What do you say?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Present Moment Practice



Present Moment Practice

     As I was thinking about this week’s yoga practice and what I wanted to teach, the thought came to me about my introduction to yoga back in college in the late seventies and early eighties. I was a theater major and at the beginning of every acting class we practiced meditation and yoga to help us be in the present moment for our acting work.

    Now, back then I loved acting but being in the moment was the least of my worries. I was much more concerned with parties and sorority pals and term papers and tests than any of that hippy dippy meditation and yoga stuff.

    But I did like the yoga practice our professor insisted we do before we got started with class. I would find it easier and easier to drop into meditation and I loved the way I felt after a yoga flow.  At the time, I didn’t appreciate the benefits of practicing for an aspiring actress, let alone for a college student. But my professor knew. He was preparing us for much more than stage or screen.

     What is this present moment awareness thing anyway? Sometimes it’s easier to know something by what it isn’t so I present my case. I find myself all these many years after college still consumed with everything BUT the present moment. I make exhaustive lists for the week ahead. I let my mind wander while I am driving so that often I reach my destination not knowing how I got there. I can take care of seventeen things at once, not doing anything extremely well. And what’s worse, I can hold a conversation with a dear friend and not really be there for her, thinking about anything but the conversation we are having.

     When I think of actors who are masters at present moment consciousness I think of Meryl Streep of course. Her performances are flawless as she embodies each character, seemingly stepping right into their skin. Watch how she relates to the other characters on screen. Every fiber of her body is right there with them in the scene. That is the definition of a “generous” actor. We hear that term used to describe someone who is truly present on stage or on the screen. They are rooted in the moment, they listen, they respond appropriately and it works! (And that’s why they win awards.)

     But off stage and off screen, being in the present, for me, looks like someone who is confident, calm, compassionate, creative and clear-minded. (I realized I had four C’s there so I just went with it.) Think about people in whose presence you feel these things yourself when you are with them. Presence is contagious. Here are just some of the qualities I have come to associate with being in the present moment:

      1.     rooted
      2.     flexible
      3.     balanced
      4.     loving
      5.     clear thinkers and communicators
      6.     peaceful
      7.     grateful
8.   creative
      9.     happy
    
     Reminds me of the poses we practice on the yoga mat. You? We root as we stand in mountain pose, prepared for anything. We remain flexible as we flow through postures making shapes but not being attached to any sort of perfection. We practice balance poses like tree to remind the brain to help us in this regard in all aspects of our lives. We open our hearts in cobra and upward facing dog, showing the world our vulnerability as well as our great love. Inversions help us to see things in a different way, meditation brings us back to our center and the whole shebang contributes to our overall health and wellbeing, aka happiness. I could go on and on…

     You don’t have to be an actor or a yogi to appreciate the many benefits of being in the present moment. But for me, as a new yoga teacher I feel more responsible than ever for finding this elusive present moment so that I can be authentic with my students. So I practice. 

Namaste.