Friday, October 23
Shadow

Daily Practice for July 28, 2016

Word:

Summarizing this weeks progression, I am writing on rituals that will "make you happy according to neuroscience." Or, rituals that release things like dopamine into your system that does, in fact, have the effect of happiness or pleasure. Monday - Wednesday, I looked at creating rituals for gratitude, naming negative emotions, and for decision making.

Today, we are looking at touch.

The neuroscientists point out that touch releases oxytocin into our systems. Now, as a mini-rant, I'd like to point out that in our prisons, no one is allowed to touch, therefore depriving them of oxytocin and a great leveling chemical in their bodies. Sigh. Returning to topic. Touch has several categories and corresponding changes on your body:

  • Handshakes and pats on the back actually release small amounts of oxytocin. Of course, we need to be clear with our permission boundaries and that the person is not hyper-sensitive to touch or has a history of abuse. Perhaps this is why passing of the peace is so popular in churches that practice it. The drawn out shaking of hands and hugging goes from person to person! Upping everyone's oxytocin!
  • Touching someone you love actually reduces pain
  • Holding hands with someone you love alleviates pain and helps you get through difficult situations. They did this experiment:

One fMRI study scanned married women as they were warned that they were about to get a small electric shock. While anticipating the painful shocks, the brain showed a predictable pattern of response in pain and worrying circuits, with activation in the insula, anterior cingulate, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. During a separate scan, the women either held their husbands’ hands or the hand of the experimenter. When a subject held her husband’s hand, the threat of shock had a smaller effect. The brain showed reduced activation in both the anterior cingulate cortex and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex— that is, less activity in the pain and worrying circuits.

  • Hugging five times a day has been shown to increase happiness
  • Can't hug or shake hands or any of that? Massage has been shown to release serotonin and dopamine and decreases cortisol.

So there's the science. I don't think it is advisable to randomly walk up to people and start hugging them. So how do you design a ritual around touch? Or around hugs? Pretty sure this will take two people. And I'll admit it, I am a non-touch person. I'm a little hyper-sensitive to touch so I generally go on high alert when being touched. It's awkward. But I do like hugging a safe person.

Ok. Let's see what we can do.

*runs and researches and idea*

Touching animals also releases oxytocin as does touching yourself. Woot! We're in!

Sacred Space

To form a sacred space, I think I'd like a circle. Surround yourself with the things you love in a circle around you. Flowers, in a grove, books, pictures, art supplies, music sheets, candles, your gratitudes, or be in the center of a labyrinth...whatever it is that you love. And it doesn't need to be a lot of whatever it is. Shoot, you could be in the middle of your favorite work space! Choose to be standing or sitting, whatever makes you comfortable.

Declare Your Intention

Today, I choose to reconnect with myself. To accept my body as a gift of comfort and joy.

Photo by Spirit Fire (CC BY)
Photo by Spirit Fire
(CC BY)

Do it!

Now, we're going to travel chakra by chakra, visiting the body's energy centers by direct touch. For some of us, our range of motion is limited. Adapt each item as you are able. Also, where possible, touch your direct skin. Take your shoes off!

  • Touch your feet (root chakra). The root chakra is for grounding and security. For some of us, our feet and ankles are weak or damaged. Acknowledge this while accepting the connection to the earth. Hold each touch for as long as you desire. Do a breath practice while holding your touch. When you breathe in, think or say "Root of life," on your exhale think or say "Thank you." Do this five or more times.
  • Touch the area below your naval. This is the sacral chakra. Sacral means sacred or holy and it also is the sacrum at the base of your spine. It is for relationships and emotions. This may be a difficult area for many. I have two c-section scars and of course, it is not as flat as I'd like. Set those thoughts aside. Do a breath practice while holding your touch. When you breathe in, think or say "Sacredness of life," on your exhale think or say "Thank you." Do this five or more times.
  • Touch the area at your solar plexus. This is for vitality or power. When singers sing, they use their diaphragm to give them power! When you take big breaths that reach every part of your lungs, you touch the diaphragm area. This may be difficult for those who are affected by asthma or even if you have a cold. Accept the limitation at the same time you hear its strength. Do a breath practice while holding your touch. When you breathe in, think or say "Power of life," on your exhale think or say "Thank you." Do this five or more times.
  • Touch the area at your heart. This is for love, connection, and balance. Let go of any short comings you feel and move into the gift of your heart. Do a breath practice while holding your touch. When you breathe in, think or say "Power of love," on your exhale think or say "Thank you." Do this five or more times.
  • Touch the area at your throat. This is for communication and healing. Let go of any short comings you feel and move into the gift of your voice. Do a breath practice while holding your touch. When you breathe in, think or say "Power of voice," on your exhale think or say "Thank you." Do this five or more times.
  • Touch the area at your forehead. This is for intuition and understanding. Let go of any short comings you feel and move into the gift of your knowing. Do a breath practice while holding your touch. When you breathe in, think or say "Power of wisdom," on your exhale think or say "Thank you." Do this five or more times.
  • Touch the area at the top of your head, or the crown of your head. This is for transcendence or enlightenment. Let go of any short comings you feel and move into the gift of the cosmos. Do a breath practice while holding your touch. When you breathe in, think or say "Power of all," on your exhale think or say "Thank you." Do this five or more times.

Closing

Let your hands come to a gentle rest in your lap. Breathe in, breathe out. Bow or tip your head downward. Breathe in, breathe out. Move your hands back as possible, tip your head back, open your chest area. Breathe in, breathe out. Return to neutral.

Namaste.*

Today's practice brings us music from MC Yogi, a poem from Jewel Matheison, wisdom from Friedrich Nietzsche (boy will you be surprised!), and a photo from Teresa Alexander-Arab from flickr. Along with readings from the Jewish and Christian lectionaries, the Qur'an, and the Buddhist tradition.   And as always, we have our BIBOLOVE practice from Soyinka Rahim. (BIBO = Breathe In, Breathe Out). Our prayers for this week focus on Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico.

Onward!

...

Self-Soothing Behaviors: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25628581

Translations of namaste: http://www.wakingtimes.com/2014/11/08/meaning-namaste-many-translations-one-universal-intention/

Deborah Globus/LaPadre's link to creating ritual: http://www.lapadre.com/your-path-to-practice.html

Time article on neuroscience and rituals: http://time.com/4042834/neuroscience-happy-rituals/

Scientific American article on why rituals work: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-rituals-work/

Monday's post on gratitude: http://goo.gl/9TE4xJ

Tuesday's post on naming negative feelings: http://goo.gl/kWDxqm

Wednesday's post on decision making: http://goo.gl/ApUCWP

Opening:

Let my heart rise up to meet mercy, my voice to meet compassion, my hands to meet action.

BIBOLOVE: Breath In, Breath Out--roar

Music:

Give Love by MC Yogi

Readings:

we have come to be danced. jewel mathieson.

We have come to be danced
not the pretty dance
not the pretty pretty, pick me, pick me dance
but the claw our way back into the belly
of the sacred, sensual animal dance
the unhinged, unplugged, cat is out of its box dance
the holding the precious moment in the palms
of our hands and feet dance

We have come to be danced
not the jiffy booby, shake your booty for him dance
but the wring the sadness from our skin dance
the blow the chip off our shoulder dance
the slap the apology from our posture dance

We have come to be danced
not the monkey see, monkey do dance
one, two dance like you
one two three, dance like me dance
but the grave robber, tomb stalker
tearing scabs & scars open dance
the rub the rhythm raw against our souls dance

WE have come to be danced
not the nice invisible, self conscious shuffle
but the matted hair flying, voodoo mama
shaman shakin’ ancient bones dance
the strip us from our casings, return our wings
sharpen our claws & tongues dance
the shed dead cells and slip into
the luminous skin of love dance

We have come to be danced
not the hold our breath and wallow in the shallow end of the floor dance
but the meeting of the trinity: the body, breath & beat dance
the shout hallelujah from the top of our thighs dance
the mother may I?
yes you may take 10 giant leaps dance
the Olly Olly Oxen Free Free Free dance
the everyone can come to our heaven dance

We have come to be danced
where the kingdom’s collide
in the cathedral of flesh
to burn back into the light
to unravel, to play, to fly, to pray
to root in skin sanctuary
We have come to be danced
WE HAVE COME

Sacred Text

Jewish Daily Reading: Daily Study from Chabad

Christian Daily Reading: Revised Common Lectionary Daily Reading

Muslim Daily Reading: Daily Verse from The Only Quran

Buddhist Daily Reading: Daily Zen

Please bring your own sacred readings to the daily pattern. If there is something else you'd like to see, let me know!

Sacred Quotable

“We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

Prayers:

Weekly prayer focus comes from the World Council of Churches prayer cycle. We know the world needs to be surrounded with prayer and positive thought. This allows us to work through the world country by country. We focus on one set of countries per week with the same prayer, lifting them up.

Focus countries: Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico

Let us pray.

We know that we fail to live up to being makers of peace. Let us bring in rather than push out, be invitational rather than confrontational--seeing signs of life while decrying the desecration of hope.

For signs of hope and peace, we pray for

  • Those who have taken in refugees and the exiled.
  • Communities that have cared for one another.
  • Leaders who have spoken on behalf of the downtrodden.
  • Those who try to tell the stories of the poor to those who are rich.
  • Tortillas, burritos, enchiladas, cactus, corn and beans.
  • Ancient temples and ancient civilizations.

For the oppressed and weary, we pray for

  • A peaceful settlement of the border dispute between Guatemala and Belize.
  • Comfort and healing for the families and loved ones of Guatemalans killed and disappeared, and due process of law and justice for their killers.
  • An end to human rights abuses by the military.
  • The repentance and conversion of those who benefit from corruption.
  • Justice, education and empowerment for the Maya and other indigenous peoples.
  • Those who are unemployed, and those who must work in sweatshops under difficult and often dangerous conditions.
  • Street children.
  • All those living in poverty.
  • Strength, wisdom and patience for the faith communities and NGOs.

For those who suffer, are homeless, or are sick
For those we love, those we hate and those we are indifferent to
For the transformation from ME to WE

Let peace prevail on earth.
So may it be.

Lord’s Prayer:

Translation by Neil Douglas Klotz, Sufi

O Birther! Creator of the Cosmos,
Focus your light within us— make it useful:
Create your reign of unity now-
Your one desire then acts with ours,
as in all light, so in all forms.
Grant what we need each day in bread and insight.
Loose the cords of mistakes binding us,
as we release the strands we hold of others’ guilt.
Don’t let surface things delude us,
But free us from what holds us back.
From you is born all ruling will,
the power and the life to do,
the song that beautifies all,
from age to age it renews.
Truly— power to these statements—
may they be the ground from which all
my actions grow: Amen.

May Peace Prevail on Earth. Amen. So mote it be.

Photo by Lyndsay CC BY
Photo by Lyndsay
CC BY

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