I have a frozen shoulder that I thought I could stretch and oil my way out of this month, but no luck. As I re-read one of my favorite articles by one of my favorite writers, Sally Kempton, on the process of recapitulation (check it out – it’s a good one), I wonder which of the emotions in my sometimes stormy ride got lodged there and wiggled its way in. I need help for this one and am finally going to get it.  I’ve fallen in therapist-love with Erin, my new PT who is teaching me how to heal – reminding me that pain is a message and teaching me how to heede the message rather than push through it.

Perhaps I need to recapitulate – interesting word. I would call what Ms. Kempton describes as integrating. The process involves thinking back to the emotionally charged events of the year – both the highs and the lows- and digesting them by describing them to others and thinking about how these events guide your path. So, you resonate with the highs – often when you acted from your higher self, and you forgive others and yourself for the lows which usually involve being human- and in the lows that involve yourself, mindfully teasing out the lessons. I’m planning to do this with Craig (my beautiful husband) this year, but haven’t told him yet. He’s been studying ceremony, so I’d better get my idea in!

At Kripalu, one of the exercises we often use in the final session of a program, when our guests have been in retreat for 5 days and are preparing to head home, is to name what they are leaving (or ready to let go of) and what they are taking home with them. It’s always a wonderfully powerful exercise, and my oh my we have a pile of things they are ready to set to metaphorical flame when we’re done! It really does set people on the path of moving into their lives renewed and clear.

Letting go, forgiving, releasing the past is a universal practice of clearing that sets us up to have space to let in the new. Just like cleaning out your closet or your office, when you release things that no longer serve you, you seem to have more room and the things that are still in there just look lovelier and more functional. The same principle is at work inside and out – our emotional states, mental states, even our energy field. I’ll write more on energy hygiene this year- something I learned a lot more about from my beloved Plant Spirit Healing teacher, Pam Montgomery.

There are many gifted teachers who can help you with clearing and integrating the past – I still haven’t found anyone I like more than the divine mother of affirmations herself, Louise Hay. I still use her book, You Can Heal Your Life regularly. Back when Craig and I spent 4 mos/year on Kauai (seems a lifetime ago) we ran into the fascinating Howard Wills, who is a combination of NC preacher and new age psychic (and just all-round lovely guy). He has a set of prayers on his website that make up a beautiful chanting practice – they are prayers of self- and other forgiveness and a plead to the divine for healing and love. Just print them off, choose the divine (God, lord, universal life force) that fits for you, and pray out loud. He says that spending the 20 minutes or so daily in this type of prayer – when you are humble and asking and open – rewires you on the energetic level and I wholeheartedly agree. I think they are beautiful prayers, and have found them helpful for many years now (I’ve used them after yoga practice and by the time I’m done my heart is as light as a feather – especially when my practice takes place on my beloved Kauai!). The other great teacher is sound healer Tom Kenyon. Wow – his work is amazing, and he inspires me – really stretches my brain –  for just what a human can aspire to and realize.
Thanksgiving – a time of breathing into what we are grateful for, ties in nicely with integrating the year that was.
Here is a simple practice you can do this week (or next if this week is too about preparing the feast and feasting), either on your own or with someone you love. You’ll need – pen and paper, place to sit in meditation, bowl and matches. It is a modification of what Ms. Kempton describes in her recapitulation piece.
1. Take a few moments to sit and find your center, find the center of your heart and sit, relaxing in the cave of your heart for a few breaths.
2. Think back over the year, to the emotionally-charged highs and lows for you. Pick one high and one low, and write them down on the paper.
3. If you are working with someone else, you might read your items out loud – or maybe one low, one high.  For the low, describe the trigger, emotions, responses, and the lesson of the event. Take your time to honor, feel and then release the emotion (thank you Dharani!). When you are complete, place the paper in the bowl.
4. Once everyone has gone around, you can all chant a prayer like this one I’ve modified from one Pam Montgomery taught me:

In the presence of all that is,
I honor  you my lessons, life and teacher,
And I trust with all my heart,
That you will make these lessons ones of healing,
For me and for all beings.

5. Time to get out those matches! Burn the papers, and pray pray pray.
Peace and blessings to you on this beautiful week of thanks.