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On Running With Wolves

“Women Who Run With the Wolves.” The title grabs you, does it not?

What does it invoke in you?

To my mind it brings the image of the wild child from Princess Mononoke, a beautiful film about Industry and Progress killing the Spirit of the Forest.

Princess Mononoke LITERALLY runs with the wolves.  She was raised by them.  She loves them, and she loves the Forest and hates the Industry that is stripping the mountains of their resources and beauty.

Ugh.  Just such a beautiful movie. 

But, I digress.

Women Who Run With the Wolves is about ancient stories full of symbolism and signs, almost un-interpretable to the modern woman, disconnected as she is (we are, I am) from the Earth, the body, the cycles, the rhythms.

Fortunately, author Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes is a Jungian psychoanalyst/poet/scholar who collected these stories and breaks them down for those of us who want to learn their lessons.

I am 1/3 of the way through it, and it’s helping me find my heart, my teacher, again. 

Despite 10 years of investigation into the mindbody realm, I still remained “separate than” – an analytical observer of things, dispassionate, unfeeling (except for when it comes to annoyance, frustration, and anxiety – those I experienced in spades).  Oh, I had glimpses and shimmers of connection with Self, but they were so fleeting – a flash of connection, and then the mind retreated upstairs, and the body went back to being an overlooked, shy, beautiful (but with glasses, frizzy hair and hand-me-down clothes) girl sitting in the shadows surrounding the dance floor – just hoping to be noticed and escorted back into the limelight. 

This book is helping me reintroduce my heart to my head.  It reminds me that as a Woman, I am meant to be Wild, attuned to nature, full of darkness and light and mysticism.  That is my birthright. 

Really, if this topic at all intrigues you, you just have to read this book!!  But here, to get you started and to pique your interest, are some symptoms of a disrupted relationship with wildness force in the psyche (I’m paraphrasing below):

  • Feeling dry, depressed, without inspiration, without meaning, stuck, uncreative, compressed, powerless, chronically doubtful, unable to follow through, inert, uncertain, overprotective of self, self-conscious, drawn far into domesticity or intellectualism or inertia because THAT IS THE SAFEST PLACE TO BE for one who has LOST HER INSTINCTS.
  • To fear to venture by oneself or reveal oneself, fear to set out one’s imperfect work, cringing before authority, numbness, anxiety. 
  • Afraid to try the new, to stand up/speak up, becoming conciliatory or nice too easily.
  • Afraid to stop, afraid to act, ambivalent yet fully capable.

Does any of that resonate?

This reads like an autobiography of my life.

But things are shifting – maybe like a 10% shift.  Not super seismic, just enough to notice, just enough to put me on a new course. 

When I feel myself rushing.  I slow down.

When I feel my insides getting pulled upwards by the storm in my head, I pull myself back in to my feet, my pelvis, and my heart center.

When I need to make a decision, I pause.  I check in and see what the answer is.  And I try to listen to whatever message comes up (and often nothing comes up, and that’s OK).  I express gratitude and respect to my inner teacher – my heart.

As a result, I NOTICE things.  I see the person in front of me, I notice the bark of the tree by the side of the path, I watch the urge to pick up my phone to kill time and I DON’T PICK UP MY PHONE

It’s a nice shift.  I feel more real.  I also feel scared that I will lose this.  But now I know that life is full of rhythms and cycles.  If I lose this.  I will find it again.