In Celebration of Stormy Nature: Let it Go!

The girls and I went to see Disney’s “Frozen” a few weeks ago (thanks, Memaw!).  If you plan to see it and want to be surprised, you may want to wait to read this post until after you’ve seen it.  But make sure you come back!  I have so much to say about this movie, but for today I want to point out how beautifully this film expresses the healing and joy that can occur when we embrace with love, the parts of ourselves that we view as broken, or flawed.

In my earlier series, “Grace in the Muck,” I talked about the meaning of the lotus flower in yoga.  This large, beautiful blossom emerges from stagnant, mucky waters, and then rises above its muddy origin.  The lotus flower symbolizes the beauty and wholeness that can arise out of the muck of confusion and suffering.

lotus photo by shannon mayhew

In “Vision,” (sorry, no link — I removed this post because I have submitted it for publication elsewhere) I asked, “Can the cracks in our moments, the things that go wrong for us, the flaws we try to hide, really be channels, through which the light of grace and beauty reach us?”

You probably get by this point that I find this answer to be yes.  When we make a conscious decision to bring compassionate presence to the difficulties in our day, we can transform our experience to one of relief and gratitude.

When we meet our own flaws with acceptance, we actually nourish our cells — we allow the body’s neuropeptides (“mood messengers”) to be expressed, communicating a message to the mind that is coherent with what the body is experiencing.  We make a mind-body match that is experienced as a feeling of release and wholeness. (The Molecules of Emotion, 1999).

It feels good, to do this.  As I mentioned in “Grace in the Muck,” Dee Gold and I are releasing our new curriculum for working with challenging feelings to nourish physical and emotional wellbeing — to use the muck to nourish the flower.  The first workshop is “I-AM On the Path to Living Fully: Employing the Intention-Awareness Method.” (Saturday, January 25th, from 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm at Opus Yoga in the Kentlands.  See Workshops on the Opus Yoga website.  The workshop is already half-full, so if you want to join us, you may want to register soon!)

So now is when the Frozen movie spoiler comes in.  Throughout the movie, Elsa cannot control this power she has, to create forms from snow and ice.  The more she tries to hide and control it (“Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know…”), the more unwieldy and dangerous this power becomes.  When she finally decides to “Let it Go,” and embrace her power as part of her authentic self, she experiences a breathtaking sense of liberation and discovers how powerful she truly is.

Elsa continues to believe, however, that she has no control over her experiences and their intensity.  Finally, in an act of “true love” toward her sister, Elsa learns that she can draw these stormy powers through her body, temper them with love, regulate their strength, and create what she intends to create.

love-water crystal Emoto(Photo from the work of Masaru Emoto)

These themes are just dripping with yogic beauty, and there also is so much more in this film for parents of children with special powers (or needs) and their own intense emotions.  When I talked with my daughters about playing this song when they are feeling stormy as a way to celebrate all of their feelings, they ended up playing this song about 16 times in a row.  They made paper snowflakes and threw them around their rooms while belting out “Let it Go.” Sixteen times, or so.  Lots of good medicine in here.  This may warrant another post.

For now, I leave you with the clip that shows us Elsa’s moment of transformation, as she allows  and honors the fullness of who she is.  Also, I have to express my gratitude to Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez for delicious song lyrics like “My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around”….



Milk it

Last week I wrote about gratitude as an attitude that we choose to bring to a situation, rather than a feeling that we have to try to feel (see Pearls of Glass: warmed by gratitude). In that particular moment, I found myself able to shift into feeling grateful when I went outside and looked, listened, and felt for the beauty around me.

I think this is the key. We are so often told, “you should be grateful” for the food you have, your health, your relationships. And of course on one level we recognize that we have so much in our lives to be grateful for, despite our struggles. But even though we recognize this abundance, it can be hard to feel truly grateful when we see it as an obligation, or when we are worried or upset, or sick.

If we approach gratitude as a state that we choose to move into, not because we “should be grateful,” but because it opens us to the magic of what is happening in this moment, we can get there from any feeling state. The trick is to get there through the body, through the senses.

In a yoga class at Inner Reaches last week, my teacher Dee said that “in each pose, there is something nourishing for you. You may or may not be doing the full pose, but you find what holds nourishment for you and you milk it.”

Finding gratitude in the moment is like that. You may not be in the “full pose,” of what you feel you could be doing with your moment, with your life. But you can be fully present, and open to the fullness of life in the one moment you have, which is all there ever is.

You can open to what is nourishing for you in this moment and “milk it.” Receive this nourishment through your senses and feel yourself shift into gratitude.

Listen to the low hum of the furnace that warms your home and your family, to the musical cadence of a friend’s laughter, to the hush of the life-giving rain.  Look at the beauty in the curve of a wooden chair; see kindness between a couple at the coffee shop. Notice the sheltering nooks in the trees, and the rainbows in the sunrays.

rainbows over fairyhouses photo by shannon mayhew

Feel the sensation of aliveness in your face, in your fingers. Feel the solidity of the ground underneath you. Notice that when you breathe deeply, it tastes good.

Find that nourishment, and milk it. The healing magic of gratitude is yours.

(Loving gratitude to Dee Gold for the inspiration!)