As a child of the 80’s I was very enamoured with Star Wars!
From running around with my cousins cloaked in brown towels (as only befits a young Jedi padawan), to telling people that the correct pronunciation of my middle name (Leah) was actually ‘Leia’ - I think it is safe to say that I was fairly besotted with all things from that mystical Galaxy, far, far, away.
P.s. don’t even get me started on Luke’s dreamy pair of blues!
Fast forward to my twenties, during my yoga teacher training in the mountains of Quebec (a chapter I now fondly call ‘my month in pyjamas’ due to our compulsory, modest yogic garb - see pic) where my love and awe for all things Star Wars began to resurface.
It’s no secret that George Lucas delved deep into the wisdom and mystical traditions of the East, weaving this inspiration into his captivating fictional (?) reality. As I immersed myself in the practices and philosophy of yoga I began to make exciting parallels between my experience as a yogi in training (building prana, exploring non-duality) to the path of the Jedi learning to use the Force…
And I began to realise these four powerful lessons that Star Wars can teach us about wellness, especially as we move into Winter!...
Jabba the Hutt in his full slimy, slug-like glory is a sound reminder to us that we need to move our bodies! In yoga, we refer to a dull, flat, lethargic state as ‘Tamasic’, one of the three gunas. Finding time to stretch, walk or engage in your favourite movement practice will not only get your three rivers flowing, boosting your vitality and your immunity (read that blog post here), but it will also reduce the pain and stiffness in your body during these cooler months. After all, we don’t want to end up feeling rigid and stuck like Han during his ‘frozen in carbonite’ spell now do we?
2. FIND TIME TO BE STILL
Now the flip side of keeping movement in your life, is ensuring that you also find time to be still, to cultivate mindfulness. Yoda and Obi Wan were constantly nagging Luke to get better at stilling his mind. Only then, from this place of stillness, would he be able to feel and direct the Force…
(Ditto from Chinese Medicine, where it is said that ‘a quiet spirit nourishes the chi’).
Winter (the element of Water in Chinese Medicine) calls us to draw our energy inwards. It is a time for peace and stillness, part of the eternal cycle of creation. As you turn within, rebuilding your energy in preparation for Spring and the new growth that is yet to come. So, reflect on how you can invite more stillness and mindfulness into your life? Here are some of my faves: watching a sunset in silence… taking a bath... having one night a week where you turn the power off early and operate by the light of candles...
3 - BREATHE AND BUILD YOUR PRANA
Obi Wan tells it right. “The force… is an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the Galaxy together”.
Turn your awareness to the non physical aspects of your reality and begin to sense the energy within and around you. If you are feeling flat or depleted, build the ‘force’ within you through breath awareness or yogic breathing techniques, known as pranayama. Youtube can be your bestie on this one, or join one of our monthly one-day Ripple Retreats, where I teach an entire workshop on this very topic, sharing my favourite breathing techniques for calming the mind and building your vital force.
(Bonus #healthhack: during the cold months of winter try to avoid walking around in bare feet. The starting point of your Kidney meridian (one of the two main winter/water element channels) begins right below your big toe, and it is very easy for your prana/chi to drain out and escape from this point when you walk on a cold surface, barefoot!)
4 - SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE, LET GO OF ATTACHMENTS
So much of how we feel physically and emotionally is driven by how we think and WHAT we think about. Star Wars reminds us of the power of detachment. There is a wonderful yogic proverb that states - ‘Wherever your focus goes, your energy flows’. As we let go of thoughts and memories connected to the past and we sever the ties to our anxieties and anticipations for the future, we allow our mind and our prana (force) to settle into the infinite and eternal present moment.
From this place, our sense of wellbeing and inner peace can grow, resting in the full blessings of the Now. If you need some schooling on how precisely to do this, books and videos of Eckhart Tolle (author of the Power of Now) are a great place to start! Alternatively, the mindfulness and meditation techniques that we share at our Ripple Retreats would certainly top up your tool-kit with strategies for how to anchor your awareness in the present.
Well my dear, most luminous Rippler, that wraps up this little post. I'd love to hear any of your personal insights in the comments below, on the wellness wisdom embedded within Star Wars (I'm thinking the connection between 'light and dark' is ripe for the picking...).
May the Force be always and lovingly with you.