They walk out the door in a rush, in a flurry of "Please hurry and brush your teeth. You're going to be late. Daddy is waiting."
Some mornings I head to the kitchen window and watch them walk down the twisty steps, him carrying all the things, her chatting and chatting as she gets distracted by the colors of the sky or a tiny insect or the lines the fog makes against the trees.
Other mornings I sink to my knees in the living room and put my hands on the floor, stretching my back into chakravakasana. Breathing. Being. Coming home to me.
And then there are the mornings I plant myself on the red couch and dive right into emails and analytics and holding my heart out in my hand in a virtual invitation.
Lately, I've been adding in a simple clearing ritual to bring me back to center. Some days it's my practice. Other days it closes my longer practice. Always it feels like a prayer.
I stand at our often dusty sprawling family altar and begin to chat to Ganesh. As the words swirl in our little house, as Millie snores in her spot on the rug behind me, I light the sage. Watching the smoke begin to swirl, my voice gets louder. I gently move my hand, enveloping the smoke, and let it encircle me.
And then I begin to walk. Chanting. Clearing the space with my voice, with the sage.
It's a whisper. It's a roar. It's one woman in her little home asking all that is greater than her to support her in this day, to clear space for all that is to come, to clasp us gently in its grasp.
How to Smudge
If you're new to working with sage or smudging, here are some simply steps to follow. I've included some links to supplies as well:
1. Light your bundle or smudge stick until it flames. It will usually burn out and begin to smoke. If needed, you can blow out the flame, but it should still be smoking. This smoke is what you'll use to smudge.
2. Smudge yourself by wafting the smoke toward you, getting your whole body and then step through the smoke. You can use your hand or a feather or feather wand. If you're smudging another person, make sure they turn around so you smudge both their front and back.
3. If you're smudging a space or your home, begin to walk around slowly, wafting the smoke into the space, being sure to direct it in all four directions in each room. Some traditions say you should walk around your space or home in a clockwise manner. As you're walking, be sure to also carry a small bowl or an abalone shell to catch any ashes. (Lately, I've been using my favorite heart bowls.)
4. As you're walking, think positive thoughts, even say a prayer, or sing or chant. The intention is to invite in what you most want to come into this space. You might even want to write a blessing that you say in each room (or to each person if you're smudging yourself and others).
5. When you're done, remember to gently put out the smoking smudge stick/wand. Do this by pressing it into your abalone shell or a fire-proof ceramic bowl. You'll want to make sure that it is no longer smoking and then leave it in the shell or bowl for a while.
There are so many great sources for sage and other smudge sticks on Etsy. You can often find it at Whole Foods and other natural food shops too. Moorea Seal (one of my favorite Seattle shops/sites) also carries some sage and other good things. The sage wand in the photo is from the wondrous Jennette Nielsen.
Using sage is something I first learned about from my teacher Laura Yon. She also taught me the Ganesha chant I sing daily (if you'd like to listen to it and learn it, here's a short audio of me chanting). Additionally, Pixie Lighthorse's teachings have invited me to deepen my experience with the smudging practice.
As always, if you have questions, share them in the comments.
With love and light,
All photos by Lauren Oliver Photography