Balancing the Elements

This month west coast skies have been gray, except near the fires, where they are lit with the hot colors of fire. Yesterday morning I laid in bed thinking how close the fire up the road was and the many houses in it’s path before it would have reached us, fortunately it was contained before nightfall. I had flashbacks of a wildfire that took off from a smoldering brush pile in a clear-cut behind our property 30 years ago, surrounding our property on two sides with lapping flames. I could see the fire through the trees as I tried to organize my thoughts and belongings for possible evacuation. No one had notified me of the fire, I just happened to notice before going to bed lights from police cars at the end of the driveway. Walking down the driveway I saw road barriers closing me in the fire area.

It was a different world then, management was not handled well on that fire. In the dark I walked up the road to the fire staging area and got a ride up to the fire line by a local volunteer in his truck so I could see if any of the tall firs on our boundary were on fire. It was a long, scary night, and I was angry.

What do these fires, does fire in general, have to teach us? Perhaps that is a personal question for individuals to ask, depending upon how wildfires have affected them. In Ayurveda, the ancient science of life, fire is the primary element of the Pitta dosha. Too much Pitta in an individual can cause rashes, fever and inflammation, people with an imbalance of Pitta, either constitutionally or due to dis-ease, can be ‘hot headed’, quick to anger and may express anger with aggressive words or behavior. (The secondary element of Pitta is water, as in ‘letting off steam”!)  When in balance, Pitta is the fire to “digest” food, thoughts and life experiences, it can be sharp, smart thinking, strong, have staying power and energy. When Pitta is strong people have endurance and can be “in their heads”. Like it’s element Fire, Pitta has both a negative, destructive side and a positive building side.

The other doshas, Kapha and Vata, are the elements water and earth (Kapha) and wind and ether (Vata). Kapha imbalance can be cold, immobile and needs fire to energize it, to give balance, drying up some of the sluggish dampness. For example hot spicy foods are good for Kapha, too much cool, heavy, oily Kapha foods can cause congestion and overweight, yet spicy foods can aggravate Pitta, giving it too much heat. Excess Vata, the wind dosha, can push Pitta, causing it to inflame, yet Vata is flexible and needed to balance too much Pitta or Kapha. Vata moves the fluids of our body as it moves the rivers and streams of the earth.

mandala entitled “Cooling the fires with the blues”

There are colors we associate with fire – red, orange, yellow, and these colors, while stimulating and balancing to Kapha, can be too intense for Vata and definitely raise the heat of Pitta. Pitta finds balance with cooling shades of blue and green. Vata, prone to fear and anxiety, finds balance with soft, warming shades of colors, such as soft golds. Vata needs nurturing, soothing and ‘grounding’ to calm its erratic, ‘windy’ nature.

Are we nurturing ourselves individually and in our communities during these challenging times? Or are we allowing ourselves to become too inflamed with heat and anger?

the seasons of life, the year and the times of day each are dominated by the characteristics of certain elements, making each period of time ideal for certain activities.

Summer is the hot Pitta time of year, now in late summer we are moving into autumn, the Vata time of year. There is heat, yet there is wind and transition. In the news we read of aggravation and anger in the behavior of people and often the events we read about bring up our own anger. Things seem to be moving quickly, for better or worse. There is fire, there is wind. There is imbalance. There doesn’t seem to be much groundedness. There is too much water in areas of North America and other places, not enough water in other areas. There are too many fires . The Earth, a living being, seems out of balance in so many ways. Does it start with how out of balance we humans living on the Earth are?

When there is serious illnesses, such as cancer, all the doshas are involved, they are all out of balance and a careful assessment of how to bring a person back into health and well being is needed.

Maybe one lesson of fire is our need to find our own balance – in ourselves, in our relationships, in our communities. Be patient and understanding, be kind, watch the temper. Try not to let the news ‘rile’ you up! If you are a Pitta inclined person, bring cooling calm into your life, surround yourself in cooling blues and greens, the colors of the earth and water. If you are Vata inclined, be especially nurturing, soothing and calming the winds of your anxieties and fears with meditation and walks in Nature. Maybe you are a Kapha person, grounded but immobile, lacking motivation and feeling there is nothing you can do. Taking positive action by helping others at this time could give you more energy. We can all bring calmness to our outer world by finding ways to balance our own nature. A world full of healthier, balanced, calm people will surely begin to heal this precious Earth-body. It is not easy to bring balance to such a large living being such as Earth, but starting with ourselves is a good place to start.

Are we not all calmed and find inner peace when in Nature, especially when she is dressed in blues and greens!

I’m going to imagine blue skies, blue water and coolness settling over the west coast, enveloping the fires til they smolder out, the balancing impact of Kapha on Pitta. And I will visualize everyone in the path of hurricane Lane being calm and safe as all that Vata energy moves through.

You can read more about Ayurveda and see a list of resources to learn about food and life style choices, etc. here: Mother of all Healing.

Just a little ring story

Wedding rings have been around a long time. Credit for the first ones goes to the Egyptians, but archeological evidence has shown Neanderthals and cave dwelling people wore rings made of plant material. Some say they were exchanged, as in a wedding ceremony, but I’m not sure how finding evidence of rings being worn would tell the story of why. Certainly the rings found among the remains of ancient people hold stories lost to time.

It has, however, been well documented ancient Egyptians exchanged wedding rings of woven reeds, bone, leather and ivory. The Romans were the first to make rings of metal. The tradition of wearing a wedding ring on the third finger also dates to the Egyptians who believed one of the energy meridians in the body ran from the third finger to the heart. Chinese medicine and other traditions also speak of that meridian.

It’s impressive a tradition can be traced back to antiquity and is still honored and meaningful today.

In the healing tradition of Ayurveda  certain metals and gemstones are worn to bring health and balance to a person. Different stones and metals are recommended for different people’s innate constitution (or dosha in Ayurveda) or what is needed to bring healing to a person. Being formed over long periods of time in the earth, metals and gemstones are thought to hold high energetic vibrations.

One guideline for healthy living in Ayurveda is to be cautious about wearing or using something another person has worn or used. This applies to clothes and other personal items, but especially to jewelry, which is often worn by the original owner all the time.  As the vitality of food can be affected by the health and emotional state of the person preparing it, a piece of jewelry can also contain the ‘energies’ of the person who made it as well as the vibrations of the original owner. This understanding goes back thousands of years, but recent science as shown that indeed we are all made of energy and the energy fields of one being can impact another, as shown through plant and animal studies.

Given all this information, as well as my intuition, I stopped wearing the wedding ring that was made for me when Mike and I got married (Mike lost his a few weeks after our wedding under a house, but that’s another story! It was replaced). It never really fit me, and felt too ‘clunky” to wear, and I no longer felt comfortable about the person who made it.

I went back to wearing a ring made for me before we were married that had deep significance to me. It felt like “the right” ring to wear, even as a wedding ring.

My mom gifted me several rings when she began to clear out her jewelry. I received several of her rings and a few that had belonged to my maternal grandmother. It was interesting how some of these rings felt comfortable to wear, and others not. Of course several of them did not fit me, either too tight on my ‘ring fingers’ or too loose on my little fingers. I knew the stories behind some of the rings, but not all. A little ring came into my possession that felt ‘just right’, like Goldilocks finding the right chair and bed! I began to wear it on my third finger as a wedding ring, but still had a desire for that special ring that represented our relationship, our marriage.

That’s when I found Stephanie Selle. Stephanie, with her husband Brandt, is in the business of love. She is a local jeweler who offers couples the opportunity to make rings for each other with her there to guide and teach them. Her business is called “With These Rings”.  People of all ages, sizes, colors and lifestyles come from all over the country, from other countries, and from the local community, to have the special experience of making each other’s wedding rings.  What they all have in common is the love they share with their partner and the desire to have rings to symbolize that love. Stephanie is dedicated and passionate about what she does and has a deep appreciation for the unique experience and rings made by each couple. She teaches them about the metals they can use in their rings (this information is also on her web site) and helps them make choices for creating their own designs. Written comments indicate making rings with her is often as important to a couple as the wedding itself.

I read everything she wrote on her web site and called her. Would she make me a ring?

At first she said I could find a ready made ring elsewhere, but I knew this was the person I wanted to make that special ring. She also suggested I take a workshop with her and make my own ring. Mike and I talked about him making the ring. He was concerned about this arthritic thumbs and I was concerned about how my challenged body, with pain and stiffness, could sit through the process. No, we really wanted Stephanie to make the ring, especially after meeting her and talking with her for several hours!

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photo by Stephanie

So she did. A simple yellow gold band with a tiny accent band of rose gold (you have to look close to see it). It may look like any other gold ring, but to me it is the ‘right’ ring, the wedding ring I’ve waited 29 years (this October) to wear, made by the right person!

Of course I had to honor it, and the person who made it, with a mandala!

Thank you Stephanie!

Stephanie’s web site is fun to explore, even if you aren’t in the market for a ring: With These Rings

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To see other recently made mandala’s check out my second page of mandalas: Mandalas II or my mandala home page at: Floral Mandalas