The days have grown shorter and the weather colder. The inevitable shift towards the darker winter and its emptying landscape is upon us. We might try to ignore the shift around us, but the invitation to participate is there. We are invited to shift the light of our awareness towards the shadows, and even to enter in. Of course, there is fear because the darkness represents that within us which is not yet known, and although unseen it tugs at us. It pulls through sensations in the body, like a quickening of the breath, nausea, headaches, or numbness, an anxious thought, or sometimes through a depressed state.
The darkness asks us to light a fire and gather all the lost parts of ourselves back into the fold. The exiled parts - the unloved or unacceptable, the wild and rebellious, the shameful and the wounded pieces - to be sang back into wholeness like the gathered bones in the myth of “La Loba” (below). This calling back of ourselves is the solution of wholeness that we crave. The darkness also asks us to give up what isn’t ours or is no longer serving us and throw it in the fire.
In somatic work I’ve noticed that often these “unknown” places exist in the viscera below the diaphragm, in the darkness of the belly, gut and pelvic floor. Whereas often, even though it may be uncomfortable, we seem to have a more access to the felt expressions of the heart, throat and face. The work of inviting back exiled parts can often be started by freeing up the diaphragm and allowing the breath to move. We begin to know - or awaken to - what at first seemed unknowable.
A Short Breathing Exercise: Try placing a hand on your heart and one on your belly. Take a few deep breaths. Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling the hand on your belly and then on your heart slowly rise. Slowly exhale through the nose all the way to the bottom of the breath. Practice emptying the exhale completely, until you feel the belly draw towards the spine, until there is no more breath to exhale. Exhaling completely helps us to create enough room to fully inhale. Take 10-15 cycles of breath.
This is meant to be practiced daily to free up more space and clear a more easeful pathway for the breath.
If you find focusing on your breath creates anxiety, or that your diaphragm feels very stuck and you'd like to explore this in a session please feel free to contact me
If you'd like to put the breath, storytelling and movement together join me Sunday morning! Class is $10 and you can register and etransfer email@example.com
"La Loba" is popularized by Clarissa Pinkola Estes in “Women Who Run With Wolves.” As told by Estes:
There is an old woman who lives in a hidden place that everyone knows in their souls but few have ever seen. As in the fairy tales of Eastern Europe, she seems to wait for lost or wandering people and seekers to come to her place.
She is circumspect, often hairy, always fat, and especially wishes to evade most company. She is both a crower and a cackler, generally having more animal sounds than human ones.
I might say she lives among the rotten granite slopes in Tarahumara Indian territory. Or that she is buried outside Phoenix near a well. Perhaps she will be seen traveling south to Monte Alban in a burnt-out car with the back window shot out. Or maybe she will be spotted standing by the highway near El Paso, or ride shotgun with truckers to Morelia, Mexico, or walking to market above Oaxaca with strangely formed boughs of firewood on her back. She calls herself by many names: La Huesera, Bone Woman; La Trapera, The Gatherer; and La Loba, Wolf Woman.
The sole work of La Loba is the collecting of bones. She collects and preserves especially that which is in danger of being lost to the world. Her cave is filled with the bones of all manner of desert creatures: the deer, the rattlesnake, the crow. But her speciality is wolves.
She creeps and crawls and sifts through the montanas, mountains, and arroyos, dry river beds, looking for wolf bones, and when she has assembled an entire skeleton, when the last bone is in place and the beautiful white sculpture of the creature is laid out before her, she sits by the fire and thinks about what song she will sing.
And when she is sure, she stands over the criatura, raises her arms over it, and sings out. That is when the rib bones and leg bones of the wolf begin to flesh out and the creature becomes furred. La Loba sings some more, and more of the creature comes into being; its tail curls upward, shaggy and strong.
And La Loba sings more and the wolf creature begins to breathe.
And still La Loba sings so deeply that the floor of the desert shakes, and as she sings, the wolf opens its eyes, leaps up, and runs away down the canyon.
Somewhere in its running, whether by the speed of its running, or by splashing its way into a river, or by way of a ray of sunlight or moonlight hitting it right in the side, the wolf is suddenly transformed into a laughing woman who runs free toward the horizon.
So remember, if you wander the desert, and it is near sundown, and you are perhaps a little bit lost, and certainly tired, that you are lucky, for La Loba may take a liking to you and show you something - something of the Soul.