I have been waiting for her. Every week I patiently gather her leaf clothes into piles of bright flames. Some leaves get stashed under bushes to decompose through the sleep of time, while the brimming excess of others get put into an old, stinky compost bin.
I have been waiting for her, watching the hover of her nakedness, studying her bare bark ribbed and rugged. I feel the pull of her life force drawing down into her root toes, so very alive in her pause of growth. I watch the waving flags of her last remaining orange leaves, so hesitant to let go. A backwards metamorphosis of sorts, this tree is a butterfly losing her wings, losing her glamour and color in favor of finding her bones, better knowing her roots.
Studying the swaying of her charcoal frame, I find the precision of her lines refreshing. This is the time of year when the standing people of the forest become all dark limbs and twisted bodies, nothing left to hide behind. Boundary lines drawn and edges found. And I begin to wonder about the confidence inherent when we very clearly know where we begin and where we end.
The confidence to say no when we need to.
The confidence to stop taking on others people’s stuff as our own.
The confidence to cease trying to prove our worth through our doings and givings.
The confidence to know what is ours to hold as our own and what is best to give back to others. To become the jet-black silhouette of a tree, arms reaching up to the sky, standing in our power with clear borders and bone-knowing.
For this can be such a loaded time of year: mountains of expectation, family obligation or drama, grouchy people at grocery stores, and vortexes of consumerism. We may be asked to repetitively find our boundaries in all of our interactions, to know where we stand and how we want to spend the precious resources of our time and energy. Despite all of the cultural conditioning of how we should feel, or act, or engage, with fierce boundaries we awaken to what actually aligns us with our truth.
I have been thinking of you, as the holidays are getting rolling and the pace feels more frenetic, and I wanted to offer you one of the many practices I use to feel confident in my boundaries. This technique is based on the shamanic idea of recapitulation, an ancient technique meant to retrieve and heal your energy, although I have altered this practice to make it my own over time.
Every interaction that we have ties us up in some way or another to other people’s energy. The memories you hold from these events require unconscious effort to maintain and keep alive. This is a method to free up that life energy and to return it back to yourself.
Taking 10 minutes before bed, find a dark and cozy place that is cave-like (a closet perhaps or you can cover yourself with a blanket). Closing your eyes, get a strong flow of breath going through your body. With your mind’s eye relive your day, remembering all of your interactions, what activities you did, and how you spent your time. Pay particular attention to your feelings, letting your heart guide you through what wants to be cleared, what interactions might have felt triggering, sticky, or unresolved.
Then begin to work with your breath. On the inhale relive in your mind what happened. Tap into the feelings of it. Then on the exhale give back the energy from that experience that you took on as your own but is not really yours to keep.
So for example, lets say you had a terse phone exchange with your mother earlier in the day about sexist Uncle Ronald coming to dinner over the holidays. You argued your point. She argued hers and then you hung up feeling slimed with frustration.
So with this clearing technique, you would relive the memory in your mind, breathing in those feelings. And then on the exhale you would give that energy back to your mother- a simple returning without any resentment. Repeat this breath work until the feeling of the exchange simmers away and you feel “done” with it.
Continue this same process as you scan your day for any other activities or exchanges that need to be cleared. When you feel complete, take a few more breath cycles to just feel what it is like to rest in your personal energy. Having lovingly recalled this energy, relish in the freedom and lightness of this shift.
Making this clearing technique a part of your everyday energy hygiene is an essential part of knowing what is yours to hold onto, what to let go of. And when we are not bogged down by everybody else’s energy all of the time, when we stop dragging around all of that unresolved energetic debris, we can feel more present and fully alive.