Go Within

+ Bear Feb 15 Blog 6900110_sA few months ago, a friend from Groton told me that while driving home one day, she’d spotted a bear on someone’s lawn. It turns out that hers wasn’t the only bear sighting in town. According to the Groton Herald.com, “Bears abound in Groton these days, with sightings of bears from all corners and the center of town, almost every day.”

In the brief article, nothing was said about people’s responses to the bears, but I recall my friend’s reaction to her close encounter being along the lines of, “Yikes!”

Mine would be, too!

Though I’m cautious (as I should be!) about getting close to bears, I’d love to see one from a safe, comfortable distance. Bears have been on my radar since the beginning of the New Year, when I picked bear from my deck of animal spirit cards to be my guide for 2015.

I’ve been inviting an animal spirit to be my guide at various times – January 1st, on my birthday, at the start of a season – for years. In Native American traditions, animal spirits offer guidance and inspiration to help us in our lives. Different animals symbolize various qualities, and their meanings are drawn from both the animal’s physical traits and actions and the tribal mythology associated with it.

Drawing Bear in January, early in winter, felt right and timely to me. I began meditating on bear’s energy and immediately connected bear’s hibernation with my own natural seasonal inward turning.

Soon, I heard Bear tell me, Go within.

Wintry weather and intense snowstorms make it easy for me to go within. On a simple level, inside is where I want to be – in my blessedly warm and cozy home with a good book on my lap! But, I knew Bear was inviting me to go more deeply within – into my Inner Self – to hibernate, to contemplate, to dream.

For a bear, hibernation is a period of dormancy, slowing down, resting. We can learn from Bear about this – slowing down is something humans need to do, too. While long stretches of inactivity might not easily fit into our busy lives, an afternoon or day here and there of quiet and repose offer a healthy respite and necessary balance to our culture’s demand for continuous, steady productivity.

The teaching, or “medicine,” Bear brings reminds us to honor our impulse and need to nap, relax, to move more slowly. This principle extends beyond the winter season, too. An occasional hibernation/retreat benefits us year round and helps our mind and spirit as well as our body. A periodic change of pace allows our whole being to have the restorative time it needs.

So, I’m experimenting with slowing down, with not forcing myself into a certain tempo of activity all the time. It’s good for me, though a little challenging as I sometimes worry that if I slow down, or even come to a full stop once in a while, I won’t be able to get myself back up to speed! But, I’m trying this out, because I sense I need to be as comfortable with the hibernation of not doing as I am with my customary pacing of doing.

Bear’s primary spiritual power, as described in the Jamie Sams and David Carson book Medicine Cards (which accompanies my animal guide deck), is introspection. Sams and Carson tell us that Bear enters the cave to hibernate for a period of introspection to digest the year’s experiences.

In this way, Bear’s energy guides us into an inward time of contemplation and self-examination. We quiet the mind, reflect about what has been, and allow new thoughts to emerge about what is to be manifested in Spring.

Again, this brings a challenge for me – quieting my mind is something else I’m practicing. The energy Bear offers helps me imagine myself going within, gently, unconsciously allowing the past year to be digested. Digestion is a process that doesn’t have to be analyzed, it can simply happen on its own, when given some time and space.

While hibernating in the cave, deep in introspection, we enter the space that many tribes call the Dream Lodge. This is the place of imagination, dreaming, and other mystical consciousness, where tribes believe our ancestors sit in Council and advise us. They help us connect our questions with our answers – all of which, it is believed, reside within us. Here, as we receive the help and support our ancestors offer, the next cycle of activity begins to form and take shape.

I think of the Dream Lodge as the inner landscape of my Spirit. It’s the space where my unconscious knows my dreams and my destiny. It holds the map of pathways and choices that will lead to that destiny’s manifestation.

Our challenge in this mystical space is to allow our self-perceived limitations and restrictions to dissolve. These limitations are, in a sense, illusions. In the Dream Lodge, we can let go of our literal thinking and move into “not thinking.” In the place of no-thought, words and concepts have less of a hold on us and we can expand and imagine beyond the old paradigms.

I’ve had glimpses of this landscape and I look to Bear to guide me into a more sustained relationship with it. Imagine the sense of freedom, expansion, possibility, of the sweetness – like the honey Bear loves – that we can experience when illusions of our powerlessness and other limiting beliefs dissolve.

The experiences that Bear offers us connect with our body – mind – spirit trinity. Rest the physical body by hibernating, contemplate and reflect on your life, dream the visions of Spirit.

When you hear Bear Spirit call, listen, and go within. Emerge, rested and restored. The journey is sweet as honey.

Comments

  1. Anne Miller says:

    Beautiful post, Janet!

  2. What a gorgeous post, Janet! Thank you. I just loved the reminder of the richness and sweetness and potential available to us inside ourselves, at this time when the outdoors feels so barren, bitter and inhospitable.
    Your post reminded me of the way in which the Jewish Sabbath is traditionally celebrated, by creating a weekly pause, putting our incessant productivity on hold, and turning to things of the Spirit. Though your post was more focused on the private world, and on the Sabbath there is a big emphasis on time for family and community. But the message is essentially the same. Rest is essential to health of the body, mind and spirit and an integral part of the cycle.
    In a smaller way, a daily meditation practice potentially offers the same respite.

    • Spiral Energies says:

      Judy – thank you for your insightful comment which builds so well on the idea of quiet time within ourselves. This can certainly be extended into quiet time with our families, within a community (religious or otherwise). Quiet, respite, change of energy/tempo is just not something our culture remembers, encourages, or honors – and boy, do we pay a price for that! And, yes,a daily meditation or sitting practice is a starting point…

  3. Thank you , Janet, for this lovely meditation on an animal with which I identify. Maybe this association with hibernation and inward time is why “teddy” bears are so popular as companions. Good listeners to our inward feelings. Love the idea of limitations dissolving…

    • Spiral Energies says:

      Thanks for commenting, Jay, and I’m appreciative that the idea of dissolving our limitations spoke to you. That’s an idea that means a lot to me. And, I enjoyed your note about teddy bears – they are certainly good friends and willing listeners!

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