Well hello there gorgeous new reader peeps!
This is one straight out of the archives from my old blog over on Blogger… I have kept it intact so I could keep the bats… yes the bats … you’ll see. I’m so delighted to have you on board, there will be more updates from me soon, but for the mean while enjoy…..
As I sit down tonight ready to write the post that I have been composing in my head for most of the day I realise tonight isn’t her night…..something else has made its presence felt and I’m not quite sure how I’m going to manage it!
Tonight will be about the Shen and the heart and the internal fire that steers us onward on our own little life paths.
How do I write about the Shen? And how do I make is seem accessible and meaningful in todays world? Not just something that we see and read as poetic, but ultimately inapplicable to our daily practical lives?
I’m not sure, but this is where I will start…
The Shen is the soul that resides in the heart, which is of the fire element, the colour red and the emotion of joy. This is soul most like what we in the west would call the ‘soul’. The light of life that is reflected in the eyes of a happy vibrant person, that extra spark that we see in people that are calm and composed and radiant.
When happily ‘housed’ in the heart the Shen is often talked about as a small flock of birds that when at peace reside contentedly in the heart (cue the pigeons cooing!) When shocked or subject to strong emotion or conflict the birds flee, dispersing in all directions. This leaves us feeling uncentered, ungrounded and confused, not sure of what our true purpose is and quite literally asking ourselves what do I do now?
Most of us unfortunately will have felt this feeling; a car accident, receiving shocking news. My Shen most definitely flew the coop the night my dog was hit by a car. (He and my Shen are both doing well in rehab!)
This feeling though and the disturbance of the Shen isn’t reserved for these more extreme events. The fast pace of our lives and the modern environments we are creating and living in don’t always serve our highest needs. The noise, static and relentless pace rattles our emotional body, exhausts our physical body and the shen, lacking sufficient protection becomes disturbed. Zen Master Robert Aitkens has been quoted as saying that the shock many of us are living in has us “rationalising ourselves into insensitivity”
What does this result in for our physical health? Insomnia, anxiety, depression and in the more extreme cases addiction and mental and emotional illness.
The retreat where I work is having a specialty week on Sleep. The clients I saw today all had insomnia and sleep issues, and they all had Shen disturbances. Some were more obviously emotionally related to acute events, some were long standing, related to inability to cope with change, lack of purpose and exhaustion due to over work. They all had heart burn and other heat related digestive symptoms. Their healing is going to take TIME. And I stress this, because as I write, I’m thinking to myself, keep it relevant, keep it practical give the readers something easy to take home with them…….
The really tricky thing this isn’t easy. Not in the drive through, double macchiato kind of way we have gotten used to…easy.
Our spirit, our Shen is in itself pure yang, pure divine light. Its not until it is housed in the yin casing of the heart and we live through it and it through us that it is seen and experienced.
To heal and recall the dispersed light of the shen we need to cultivate a peaceful place for it to come home to. For some people this is going to take a while and it will involve regular treatment and the creation of peaceful spaces both internal and external. Once again this doesn’t have to involve removing oneself to a mountain top (although that is lovely! )
- Mindfulness meditation 10 min per day is a perfect start.
- Nourishing food to ground the Yi and the Hun
- Limit stimulants
- Honour your emotions with journal writing… it doesn’t have to be Homers Odyssey, just get those feelings out.
- And by all means seek integrated medical advice from a GP versed in nutritional sciences.
Spend time with yourself, please don’t write this off as impossible. I know some houses where the glow of the TV dominates every meal. Give your energetic body a break every now and then. You will be rewarded with more enthusiasm and purpose in the rest of your day.
As I wrote this post tonight a bat entered my apartment! Not a flying fox, a straight from Bram Stoker, Batman emblem bat! It flew around and around and for a second I thought about trying to catch it. Then I remembered that of course bats are almost blind but they navigate by echolocation so I should just sit still and it will find the window. It clearly didn’t want to go back out the window it came and and whooshed itself down the stairs and into the kitchen, I followed and (dog in arms) opened the front door and sure enough out it went. It didn’t bump into anything not the bannister, tall vases or laundry.
Our Shen is a bit like that bat, it has its own innate sense of direction…. give it space give it time be patient open a few doors and windows and watch you never know just where it will lead you!
I used to love watching these starlings in Ireland. I was reminded of them as I wrote this tonight. They do this amazing dance together then go home to roost. Quite perfect really. For our spirits to soar they need a place to come home to.