A Softer Way to Peace
A Softer Way to Peace
Reconnecting with Earth’s Directions
by Christopher Harris
How do we find balance in this chaotic, crazy time of fear-based force-feeding of social pressure? The easiest answer is to bring yourself into balance. However, it turns out that isn’t actually so easy. In a time of quick fixes and daunting responsibilities, many of us are looking for the softer way to peace and ease without a roadmap.
We’re looking for the magic—some sort of lightning bolt of energy which will set the world straight without having to develop any sort of awareness to the Earth and its answers. Well, where do we think all this written knowledge came from? By getting closer to the Earth, we can find the magic. But like anything worth having, it takes work. The good news is, it’s more like noticing than working. It’s paying attention to the symbols right under our noses.
The first step is recognizing when we are unbalanced. Usually, some sort of uneasiness or disease is the tool used to get our attention. When ego overrides the Earthly messages to cause such an unbalance, we are being encouraged in a sometimes not-so-subtle way to pay attention to the signs of the Earth. These signs are so abundant that we take them for granted and start paying less attention.
Our connection to the earth is right there in front of us, every minute of every day. For example, we can look at the four directions to determine where we are out of balance. It is a gift for us all. As sure as the sun rises every morning, the symbols show up daily.
Let’s talk about recognizing the basic circle of life and how we find balance in the four directions, east-south-west-north, always following the clockwise flow of the sun (in Connecticut). There are an abundance of signs we can relate to, such as the four seasons. For us that’s probably the easiest way to start.
We can consider the four directions as a pie cut into four equal pieces. The spring season or the eastern direction could be related to the area on the right side. Summer/south is the lower quarter, autumn/west is to the left and winter/north completes the circle. The cycle continues endlessly.
Now all we have to do is add in the blanks. These can be any symbol you want to associate with the corresponding direction. What happens in the spring? The cycle of life starts here. Babies are born, plants emerge from their cold, dark place of winter’s rest and the sun rises. How many other symbols show up for you as you consider “new beginnings”?
Next look to the summer/south direction, where the sun is high and has the energy of adolescence. What comes to mind for you when you think about summer? Add these thoughts to your association of the summer direction. Consider long days and short nights, maybe a frolic in the waves at the beach with all the other sunbathers, all of Earth’s creatures buzzing with activity, such a contrast to the winter of hibernation and introspection.
Can you see how the seasons correlate to our lives? There is no magic answer, because what occurs in each direction for one person, may not correlate to another’s lifestyle. Take the time to consider what resonates for you in each direction. Then ask yourself the questions.
These quarters can also be considered on a smaller scale. Take for instance a 24-hour period. The first 6+/- hours are spent in new beginnings, the second 6 hours are spent in activity, the next spent in relaxing and the rest of the time for sleep. The way we schedule our days is a matter of balance. Obviously if we worked 18-hour days and slept the other 6 without any time spent with family or friends, we would quickly become out of balance. The times are not set in stone because balance is fluid and ever-changing. That’s why it’s called balance and not stillness.
To each direction, you may add an element, such as air to the east, fire to the south, water to the west and Earth to the north. If we spend too much time in the east, we can become flighty and unfocused. Ideally, we want to spend equal time in each direction.
One last example for this short lesson is to consider a spinning top. As the top spins, if a little weight was added to one side, it wobbles and eventually topples over. If we were at the middle of the spinning top, we would want to keep the weight distributed evenly on all four sides to create balance.
Next time you feel off kilter, ask yourself what lesson the Earth’s cycles hold for you and try to incorporate a small piece of each direction to your life. You may find that just becoming aware of the cycles will increase the balance within your world.
Christopher Harris, AKA Painted Turtle, is an elder citizen of the Mohegan Tribe. He has been on the journey of actively participating in Native American ritual and ceremony since the early 1990s. He has trained as an herbalist and hospital chaplain and is active in men’s community building. He resides with his wife Donna in Lisbon. Connect at [email protected].