Practical Magic for Tough Times

There are two things, two not especially ‘magical’ things, that help me when times are tough.

The first is rest. My primary gut response to times of intense stress, physical and/or emotional, is to sleep. I become borderline narcoleptic. I can barely keep my eyes open. This happens when I’ve been processing emotional issues for maybe a little too long; it also happens to me during childbirth. When my first child was born, the midwife had to shake me and kept shouting at me, “Wake up! Hold your baby!”

This is a symptom of a deep need for rest. For quiet. For space to rest the body and let the primal part of me sort and process on its own time. It signals a need for me to replenish my reserves. I wish I could say I always chose to go to bed earlier, find more time to sit in meditation, go walking in the woods, or out for drinks with good friends. What usually happens is I numb out in front of the internet, distracting myself with online comics and reorganizing my itunes.

Rest and silence are magical in their own ways if I will make space for them.

The second magical act is cleaning. Once I’ve rested and gotten a small handle on how I’m feeling, it’s usually time to clean. Letting go of my typical standards is a healthy thing in times of stress. But there is something incredibly cathartic about wiping the grime off the stove, getting a toothbrush and scrubbing the faucets, sweeping the laundry room, essentially doing all the little things I’m likely to neglect  in my regular life. I light a sweet-smelling incense, open the doors and windows, and banish the muddle of negativity. I verbally invite in clarity.

I do the same to my physical person. I clean my insides and outsides. A haircut (I’m getting one tomorrow) and a good scrubbing down in the shower helps me shed the grime that’s accumulated on my energetic body. I make kala, sometimes formally, sometimes just standing in my kitchen with my mug of water.

Today that’s what I’m about: cleaning and kala. Kitchen sink is scrubbed. Stairs are swept. Kala has been made. Now it’s time for incense and the kitchen floor. Tomorrow I’ll bless and ward the house with splashes of salt water.

What magical (or not so magical) acts help you out when times are tough?

About Niki Whiting
  • http://gravatar.com/nvaleri Nowell

    Lately I’ve been just throwing some old tunes and finger-drumming along with the music. Sometimes it’s only for a song, sometimes for a whole album. This accomplishes three things. 1. It lets me sit and pay undivided attention to music for awhile 2. Allows me to practice finger drumming 3. Brings my stress level WAY down.

    Overall it sets up the day for success. It’s more and more becoming my entryway into the work day or a way to decompress in the middle of it. It’s very ritualistic, kind of a prayer to the muses, tapping into that cosmic creative whatever that’s out there. Actually Niki- that’s my new religion: Cosmic Creative Whateverism.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/awitchsashram myownashram

      Cosmic Creative Whateverism – sign me up! Yes! I think that’s the core of all that is worth practicing and believing in.

      I drove to Seattle over the weekend for my monthly teaching and I spent the hour each way singing along to *gasp* Katy Perry and the like for the entire time. Extremely cathartic. ;)

      • nvaleri

        Ha! Resistance against Ms. Perry is futile, truly. I think I had an entire year that I started every day with Teenage Dream. :)

  • C Wolfe

    Often I’ll organize. Not clean in the way you describe above, but file or whip through emails or sort and unclutter. It feels good to make progress, to clarify, to have a small measure of control when I’m feeling out of control.

    Writing can also be key, if I have the energy. Stream of conscious writing unknots thoughts in a way that nothing else can.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/awitchsashram myownashram

      Yes, organizing can also help me! I love purging the excess clutter (my kids hate it, because it’s mostly their cheap, plastic crap I love to purge).


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