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  • Kasey Barbey Sallurday

Balance . Harmony . Peace

Updated: Oct 14, 2022

*Original letter published in March 2022


« The practice of peace and reconciliation is one of the most vital and artistic of human actions. »

― Thich Nhat Hanh


Dear weaver,


The wheel of the year is turning and change is the only constant. Time flows on, yet it is always the present moment and in that moment there’s precious information available that can help us know ourselves, where we are, how we are feeling and what we need for balance and healing. The nature of our bodies, our beings, the natural world and the cosmos all comes down to Energy. Energy swirling and circulating, influencing and interacting, infusing and degenerating. According to Ayurveda, the “mother science” of yoga, the forms and patterns of this universal life force are generally expressed in 3 ways which may be compared to the 3 primary colors. Like the foundation for all other colors, we can imagine how the 3 types of “primary” energy blend in different ratios to make various other energy expressions. Maybe you’ve heard references to the 3 doshic energy states which are essentially different combinations of the elements which are considered the foundation of all things in this system: Vata (Air + Ether/Space), Pitta (Fire + Water) and Kapha (Earth + Water).


Dr. Siva Mohan presents ayurveda as a healing system that encourages us to become more self-aware and autonomous when it comes to finding inner balance and equilibrium - in all the ways. We can observe our inner or outer environment in a given time and use descriptive words including grounding, nurturing, solid, dense, slow, heavy (kapha dosha), intense, passionate, transformative, flowing, bright, critical (pitta dosha), as well as clear, dry, scattered, floating, restless, irregular and light (vata dosha) to describe the energy state(s) which are most present or in excess. With this basic notion, we can begin making correlations between the various elemental qualities that we feel in our bodies, minds and emotions as well as in our life situations, circumstances, routines and relationships and then make intentional choices to bring in the complimentary elements and qualities for better balance and well-being.


The first step is simply, but not always easily, getting comfortable with feeling how you’re feeling. In other words, observing the signs and symptoms of our current imbalance using descriptive qualities. This gives us direct and insightful clues about what could be helpful to shift and modify in our diet, rhythm and daily routine and even in the wider scope of relationships, work and home environment, etc. When we can identify a certain quality of energy which is very present, we are infinitely creative in how we can generate the opposite and therefore balancing elements - whether directly or indirectly, internally or externally - for a healing effect for our overall state of being.


Like yoga, this becomes a practice of self-knowing and awareness. Once I reconnect with myself, my current state and my needs, I can use my free will and focused intention to make an informed choice about how I will use action (or even inaction) to take care of myself and my wellness which is essentially fulfilled when I feel balance within myself and a sense of harmony with my environment (season, climate, etc) and among the various aspects of my life (work, play, family, community, spirituality, health, etc).

As I focus on this goal of balance and harmony, I recognize a natural correlation between these states of pleasant equilibrium and that more sought after feeling of deep peace. The reality is, that despite the evolution, intelligence and all the forms of modernization in our world today, humanity still struggles with imbalance and disharmony and manifests to the point of continued violence and war between nations.


So, even though it may seem irrelevant or even self-absorbed to focus on our personal energy state, the truth is that when we return to that energetic level, where every thing, thought and feeling is essentially a varying expression of Energy or life force, we are constantly influencing the energy of our environment, we are affected by and also impacting others with our current energy state. This is where it becomes a subtle revolutionary act to cultivate balance and harmony, love, compassion and deep respect.. because as we feel and experience these energy states, that is precisely what we are bringing to the world.

May we manifest our thoughts, wishes and prayers for peace in the most direct and tangible way possible: by cultivating our own inner peace. May we feel empowered and inspired to choose balance and harmony in all the small and big ways that we can in order to make a very valuable contribution to peace on our planet.


In this inspiration letter I’d like to keep it (relatively) short and sweet by sharing 3 simple practices that you can bring into your daily life as of today. Perhaps these become second nature or regular rituals that become truly infused with your creativity, authenticity and personal meaning. Experiment with how these practices (or some personalized interpretation of them) can have a profound impact on how you make sense of your experiences, feel empowered in your health and supported in Being Well as you flow through the cycles of the moon, sun and seasons.

Practices

1. “How do I feel ? What do I need ?” practice


I invite you to try out this experience right here and now, knowing that it can take only a minute if that’s what you have available. Find a comfortable and relaxed position for your body. Welcome both a feeling of being grounded and steady while open and available to meet yourself honestly in the present moment.

Let your awareness find your breathing and focus on the pure sensations of the inhale with air moving into your nostrils, down your throat, windpipe and lungs. Notice the movement of expansion in your chest and the rising effect on your abdomen and the release and emptying as you exhale. Notice the qualities of your breathing (deep, shallow, sharp, slow, flowing, irregular, invigorating, fast, etc…). These qualities can already give clues to the energy that’s present in the mental, emotional and physical bodies.

We’ll now focus on a question without searching or digging for answers, but by simply being present and open to receive a response in any form of information whether it be words, images, feelings, sensations or impressions.

  • Focus your presence and awareness in the area of your head and the space of your mind and ask yourself “How do I feel?”

Notice what you notice. When ready, take a deep breath to accept and assimilate the information received.

  • Next, focus your presence and awareness in the area of your chest and the space of your heart and ask yourself “How do I feel?”

Notice what you notice. When ready, take a deep breath to accept and assimilate the information received.

  • Then, focus your present and awareness in the area of your belly and ask yourself “How do I feel?”

Notice what you notice. When ready, take a deep breath to accept and assimilate the information received.

  • Finally, hold your whole self within your attention and awareness and based on the impressions, sensations, feelings and qualitative words that have arisen, ask yourself “What energy do I need for balance?”

Consider how opposites are complementary and balance eachother out ::

If you’re feeling Vata qualities (air + ether) like scattered, distracted, light, unstable, perhaps you’ll identify an activity (including foods and drinks you take in) or a way that you can go about your activities that offers Kapha qualities (earth + water) like grounding, slow, heaviness, nourishment and comfort.

If you’ve noticed information like fatigue, heaviness, lack of motivation or boredom (Kapha qualities) perhaps you’ll decide on something or some way to bring alertness, excitement, movement, heat, intensity and clarity Pitta qualities (fire + water) for more equilibrium.

Our energy states are, by nature, fluctuating and changing. So, while we’re interested to meet ourselves authentically where we are, we’re also careful to not feel attachment or defined by these qualities.

Close the whole practice with a deep, full, free and deep breath and express a sense of gratitude to yourself for practicing self-awareness and go on with your day with informed and empowered intention.

2. Meet the Moon


Modern life in a city makes it far too easy to disconnect from nature’s rhythms and cycles. As a way to develop our relationship with the moon, who represents the emotional and intuitive parts of ourselves, we can start by remembering that humans have contemplated this astral body since always (or as they say in French, “since the night of the times”). We can deepen our relationship with this symbol of a harmonious balance of both feminine and masculine energy by simply becoming more aware of the different phases and considering the energy present throughout the lunar cycle.

I like comparing the phases of the moon to the seasons as it offers an easy way to remember and recognize the different energies…

We can begin with the New Moon (when we don’t actually see the light of the sun reflected onto the surface of the moon). This beginning of the moon cycle can be related to our current time of year as winter ends and spring is just on the horizon.

At this time the energy is favorable for focusing on inner desires and deeper impulses that are longing for attention and nourishment. It’s useful to identify the seeds, or intentions and objectives, that we’d like to plant at the beginning of this new lunar cycle.

Take note that the moon begins to fill from the right side and this growing, or waxing, crescent creates a backwards C shape in the night sky. This is spring energy, with an increase in vitality, creative activity and outward expression. We may feel naturally feel outgoing and expressive and drawn to connect with others. It's a good time to use the available energy to our goals with intentional action. This is how we symbolically strengthen our roots, grow and form buds that can eventually blossom and give fruit.

This ascending energy culminates 2 weeks after the New Moon with the Full Moon representing the season of summer. Abundant light shines upon the Earth likened to the light of our awareness being shone upon feelings within that were previously in the dark or unconscious. The full moon generally offers intensity, accomplishment, or at least an energetic apogee. At this time we have clarity and awareness of what is working as well as what is no longer aligned with our deepest values and longings. Whether it be comfortable or uncomfortable, notice what is being revealed and made apparent at this time.

From there, the moon begins to wane, or decrease in size. There’s a depleting energy that invites us to slow down and retreat inward. Just like in autumn, it’s energetically a time appropriate for release and letting go. Just like the tree’s sap moves down to the root system, the leaves and unpicked fruit fall to the Earth to become compost, we can allow the old or unneeded to release and be transformed and even contribute to a form of renewal at a later time.

Toward the end of the cycle, when the moon’s light decreases, forming a C-shape before her face is totally dark. This phase corresponds to the same darkness we can experience during the winter months and it invites introspection and reflection, stillness and silence and withdrawing of the sense to be more in touch with our inner landscapes. This time is favorable to integrate the month's journey and we can benefit from resting and recharging.

When we can truly honor the inward time as much as the expressive, outward energy, we can experience feelings of rejuvenation, renewal and restoration at the beginning of the next lunar cycle. There will be so much more energy, creativity, motivation and clarity for beginning again. This is a simple, yet profound way to cultivate awareness and equilibrium in our way of living.

Start by making it a point to notice the moon and her place in the sky. Become aware if and when you can see her from a window, balcony or garden, and notice how her position changes throughout the seasons. Practice identifying the phase (New Moon, First Quarter is the half-way point during the 2 weeks of Waxing (growing), Full Moon, Last Quarter is the half-way point during the 2 weeks of Waning (decreasing). Remember the energetic invitation and just as importantly, notice what you are feeling. Be open to how the moon can remind and guide you to dance through life with balance and harmony.

3. Create an Elemental Altar


Choose a place for your altar - whether it be on a shelf, a table, a windowsill, etc. It’s important to be able to see this altar, so maybe you’d like to set it up where you meditate or practice yoga, cook or eat, etc with your altar in view. Perhaps you’d like to have a base in the form of a cloth, placemat or dish that you find aesthetically pleasing and then go about placing one or more objects that correspond to the natural elements.

The objects you’ll choose are personal and meaningful for you. During a walk in nature or while in a park you can keep an eye out for treasures that Mother Nature seems willing to offer to you.. like a feather, a pine cone, a piece of bark, a sea shell, a stone, etc. Maintain a quality of respect so that you’re not harming nature in order to take something for your altar.

If you’d like you can identify the 4 directions and place an elemental object in each direction. Traditional cultures make varying associations between the 4 directions and the 4 elements of earth, water, fire, and water, so why not make an intuitive-instinctive association on your own. This is a subtle yet tangible way to stay mindful of the elements that create all things (remember the doshic energy states) and to stay connected to the qualities and resources that are always available to us.

In the center space, you can place a candle and light it when you’d like to center yourself in the present moment and become more mindful and intentional. The flame of the candle is a symbol of the light of our awareness that we can bring to our current state, our present moment experience and our lives. This altar is a way in which you can use tangible symbols to inspire what you're needing for healing (think of the “How do I feel? What do I need? practice)... a feather for lightness, a stone for stability, a flower for gentleness, a candle for clarity.

Let this practice evolve in a personally meaningful and useful way for you. Get creative, put to use what you have and don’t worry about “doing it right.” If it speaks to you then it’s right for you.

When it’s time to renew your altar, return the natural objects back to Mother Earth with simple but honest gratitude for the inspiration and connections that they made possible.

. . .


I hope these concepts and practices feel accessible and spark some inspration for you !

If you'd like to share any of your insights or questions, feel welcome to comment. <3

xx Kasey

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