Work and rest are often experienced as constricted polarities, but actually, they exist on a continuum. They are interrelated and inform each other through our living systems and felt senses. Modern society worships hard work to the point of imbalance—or, maybe it’s truer to say that this society worships imbalance itself. Implicitly and explicitly, we are told to strive, compete, climb, achieve, interrogate, conquer, and succeed, as we watch the “non-productive” members of society be treated as disposable. When we are sick, we wage war on our illnesses. When we are sad or scared or don’t know what to do, we shame ourselves away from feeling what we’re feeling—merely being with our feelings. Genuine rest and surrender can be terrifying to approach if they are so expertly guarded by feelings of worthlessness.
What would it look like to rewrite the story that says our only worth is in our ability to conquer our bodies’ rhythms, achieve mastery over others, and perform robotic levels of consistent productivity? Most humans need to work to survive—and life is full of difficult compromises—but we remain animals of this earth who thrive on balance.
About the spell
This month, we look to water to show us a more balanced way of being. Water doesn’t work hard and it has no destination. When temperatures are right, water rises up to the sky; when enough water molecules gather together, they become gravity’s muse. Moved by reciprocity with its environments, water flows, pools, rises, gathers, and falls—each direction it moves is just one arch of an unending cycle—one that is integral to all living systems on the planet earth.
“This Way” is about letting yourself be moved. It’s about trusting ease and instinct to guide you. It’s about learning to find nourishment, rest, and beauty in experiences of naturalness. Striving is not the only way. This month, we encourage you to meander off the linear path and follow some other, more subtle impulses. Flow around impediments. Feel the different ways that you can move in your body—all the different directions you can go. In the image, we see the water falling down rocks, growing in volume as it moves. May this month remind us that ease, fluidity, and naturalness can accumulate into mighty, life-giving, earth-shaping forces.
Meditation on This Way
Whenever it feels right, bring some gentle attention to your breath, noticing the sounds of it and the sensations in your body. Release to your breath. Let breathing be as easy as it can be. Are there parts of your body that think they must work hard to breathe? Find them, and let them take some time off. Perhaps you let your low belly breathe you for awhile. Take a break from the work of breathing and awaken to how little is needed of you in this very moment: this meditation isn’t going anywhere, and there’s no right way to do it. There is, in fact, nothing at all to do. There is just the earth of your body and the fluid breath that knows on its own just how to move through you. There is just this knowing that you are here, that you can feel and see. There is just this emptiness between your breaths that is always there, even as you are breathing in and out, even as your mind wanders into thought. It is trustworthy—it will hold you through everything. Every moment is an opportunity to be embraced in its security and released by its freedom. Stay with this play for as long you’d like, and then let yourself be moved out of this meditation on your own natural impulses.
About the painting:
Corina: My sister loves painting rocks. I remember early in our collaboration when Jo first suggested them as a subject, I was daunted. I couldn’t see how they would look good, and I didn’t want to do it. At that time I hadn’t surrendered to the trust I currently have in our collaboration. I’d had a solo art business for a few years at that point and I felt more responsible for making sure each of our paintings was good enough to put out into the world. We eventually learned through some rough trial and error that we really do have to trust each other’s visions and make room for surprises and unexpected images. This gorgeous painting (look at that water!) is a testament to me working this exact spell in our collaboration. I’ve surrendered control, I’ve let our process carry us, and our artmaking now is a process of curiosity and surprises.
Jocelyn: When Corina sent me the sketch of this one, she left parts of it quite vague so I could let the paint figure out how to make it look real. It was so much fun—I felt like I was sculpting reality from a dream with blues and greys and whites and greens. There are few things I love as much as water on rock, especially if there is moss nearby. This was a lovely collaboration, really embodying the trust and playfulness we enjoy most.