Spring is the perfect time to explore Spirals – ferns uncurling, delicate tendrils reach out and around supporting stems.
With the sacred symbolism of rebirth and new life, spirals are primal and ancient ways of expressing this natural phenomenon.
Our Sound of Grace retreat in April is all about exploring Spirals – and I’ve been drawn to the inner and outer dance of the symbolism for some time. But wanting to share this theme through movement, chant and creativity, I’ve been researching – and it seems a never-ending subject, one that (literally) spirals deeper and deeper.
Spirals are very common in biological organisms. Apparently, it is the most effective way for something to grow in two directions under the force of gravity and its rebound. It is the motion of rotation created by gravitational differences that creates the famous spiral shape, if we do not use the spiral motion at all, we get a straight line, and under the strain of gravity that is a very poor design.
Within Our Body
Our body is full of this spiralling design, and the reason is because of the principle of parsimony, a scientific principle that says that things are connected or behave in a simple or most economical way, and the spiral gives us the path of least resistance. We can find the spiral pattern in our muscles, how they wrap around bones in a continuous network of spiralling movement, the heart spirals in and around itself, all fluids of our body flow in spiral currents reflecting forms of nature’s rivers and waterfalls. About weeks 5 to 6 in human gestation the bones of our limbs spiral in and out (towards the centre and out of space) to later be able to transfer the weight down to earth while keeping us connected with our centre. How incredible is that?
Within Our Movement
When we invite this free spiral motion into our bodies, we have direct access to movement, creativity, and flow; we evoke a body-mind connection, and can foster sensations of ease, intimacy, and pleasure. They help us to recover from chronic injury, as they naturally realign our body, and the list can go on as you dive into the experience.
Most modern yoga postures/asana practices work through a series of linear movements and shapes – forward bends, backbends, and twists. However, the body is designed to move in a variety of directions, as you may notice in your everyday life. The muscles in your body spiral around the bones and the bones themselves have no straight lines. When moving with an inner-outer awareness of not only biological spirals – but the sacred symbolism, it can transform your movement, your experience and connection to something greater than yourself; to What Is.
Moving from the naval, a spiral can unfurl outwardly and return with a softening sense of coming home. The wrists and forearms can spiral softly to the shoulder, the shoulder blade mirroring the movement – all inviting the fascia (a band of connective tissue that surrounds each organ and muscle) to unwind and release.
Within Our Sound
All chanting takes us to a place of physical and mental stillness; the focus needed calms the mind and the extended exhale soothes the nervous system. With Spirals representing new beginnings, rebirth and at their centre Stillness, there are many chants that support this belief. The Surya Namaskara honours the sun, the giver of life, and each day the rising sun offers us the opportunity to start anew, to leave the previous day behind and embrace the Now with gratitude. The Gayatri, said to be the oldest Vedic mantra, is traditionally chanted as the sun rises, bringing us Light, Enlightenment and spiritual growth. Peace (shanti) mantras soothe the body-mind, again supporting our ability to become Still and Quiet.
Combining Yoga Asana (postures) with Chant and Mantra is very much a practice of Mindfulness, being fully present in the here and now. Chanting dissolves our inner stories, the illusion of who we think we are, so really does create the opportunity for rebirth – letting go of the past, being fully in the present moment. From there the future will unfold.
Within Sacred Symbolism…
“Spirals are one of the oldest symbols, representing eternal life, unfolding growth within and without, Spirit and Matter, death and rebirth, continuous creation. At the centre is the point of complete balance, a stillness within, around which all things revolve.”
(Glennie Kindred. Seed Celebrations)
Moving from the outer awareness of spirals to the inner, mystery world of sacred imagery. Spirals are among the oldest shapes found in ancient artwork that date back to the Stone Age. A famous example of the use of spirals in ancient art is at Newgrange in Ireland.
Newgrange is a large earth and stone mound that was constructed about 5000 years ago. This predates the construction of Stonehenge here in England and the pyramids in Egypt.
Newgrange is thought to have been a place of astrological and religious importance. Archaeologists have suggested that the spirals carved into the entrance stones are representative of the cyclical nature of life, from birth to death. 
The Sound of Grace Retreat will encompass the physicality of spirals through somatic-inspired yoga and healing chants that represent new beginnings, spring energy and the Sacred, Divine Mother. We will explore in the natural world by mindfully engaging with the land at Monkton Wyld – the trees, spring flowers, drawing in the mud, creating Earth Artwork with natural materials. And I’m eager to Witness your journey as you draw spirals onto paper with pens, pencils, mud or collage. This is not an intellectual exploration but an embodied journey into a primal shape and form that predates us all. I’m curious – are you?
The Sound of Grace Retreat – Exploring Spirals.
Friday 22nd to Sunday April 24th 2022
Monkton Wyld Court, Nr Charmouth, Dorset
Two Places available – £325 fully inclusive.
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