Exercises for Self-Care:
Medicine Wheel of "4 Directions"
This is a powerful exercise for expanding one's awareness and energy into the
kinesphere or space around the body. Similar to Chi Gong, it is a meditative
movement ritual that draws on the power of imagination at the same time as it
integrates motion through all the major joints.
Begin by standing facing East. Find a neutral balance, just resting in
stillness/contemplation before action.
Imagine the Wind from behind slowly lifting up your left hand and arm like a wing.
Allow the arm to reach out and upwards, tracing an arc like the Sun as it rises and
then sets behind in the West. Feel the sensation of the weight of your arm change
with the angles it moves through. Allow your eyes to follow your hand and for the
torso to turn to the left as your arm drops down behind you.
Turn back to the East. Bring your hands together in front of your chest, palms
outward. Separate the hands out to the sides as you balance on the left foot and
"Step over the Great Mountain" with the right.
Reach both hands behind (back towards the kidneys) and bring forward into view
whatever it there. Create a horizontal ring with your arms in front, as though
"Embracing the Great Tree." Bend the knees while keeping the spine erect and slide
this circle of the arms downwards, coming into a squat.
Release the arms, following the tree down to its roots in the earth with your hands.
Feeling gravity, release the head and let everything go.
Receive energy and strength up from the Earth, drawn this up through the legs and
gathering it into a ball at the belly or "Hara."
then stretching overhead. Let the head drop back as your eyes follow your hands up.
Imagine the ball becoming lighter as it rises and release it to the sky. Imagine Rain
coming down from the sky & streaming down your back...
[Lower the arms and repeat with the right hand and stepping Left]
Step forward into the East, sweeping the hands out to the sides in front. Release
everything, opening chest to the Sky above.
Bring the hands back together, gathering everything in from the East.
Take this all into the heart and through your body, passing on what you have gathered
in the East to the West.
[Facing the next direction, repeat this form to the South, West & North]
Once you are comfortable with the basic movements you can pay attention to the
cycles of breathing that deepen the sense of expansion and release within each one:
- Arm forward & up (Inhale)
- Arm back & down (Exhale)
- Hands in front (Inhale)
- Stepping Over Mountain (Exhale)
- Gathering from behind (Inhale)
- Arm Circle downwards (Exhale)
- Earth energy up (Inhale)
- Releasing to Sky (Exhale)
- Receiving from Sky (Inhale)
- Releasing forward (Exhale)
- Gathering from in front (Inhale)
- Passing to the opposite direction (Exhale)