A Nourishing Bedtime Ritual: Lavender Foot Massage for Gentle Sleep

New Moon. A Self-Care Ritual. 

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At the end of each long and tiring day lies a sacred opportunity. An opportunity to come home to yourself. To reconnect with the inner life of your vibrant soul and to embrace and reconnect with your body.

One way that I’ve learnt to do so (under Carrie-Anne Moss’s mentorship via Annapurna Living) is by the developing a nurturing relationship with your feet through a simple bedtime ritual. A simple practice that will leave your body feeling relaxed and your soul feeling nourished.

The Nourishing Bedtime Ritual: Before bed, get some lavender infused oil, a calming lavender foot balm or foot cream to rub your feet with (lavender aids peaceful sleep). Centre yourself, take a few deep breaths, empty your thoughts and just release the day’s stress. Massage your feet, gently rubbing the calming oil/balm into them. Feel yourself relax, becoming more peaceful and present as you do. Connect with your feet, your body and your inner self. Visualise your tension melting away a you unwind and open up to deep connection. Express gratitude for your feet and your body. Send love and soothing positive energy to yourself and let yourself feel nurtured by the practise.

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To Make Lavender Infused Oil: Fill a clean glass jar with dried or fresh lavender flowers. Then top the jar with jojoba or olive oil. Close the lid tightly and place the jar in a cool, dry and dark cupboard for 4 to 6 weeks to infuse. When the lavender oil has infused for long enough, take it out, strain it out to separate the oil from the flowers and then transfer the oil back into a clean glass bottle and discard the flowers. You can use the oil as is or use it as the basis for a lavender balm as I have done.

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To Make Lavender Bedtime Foot Balm: For my foot balm, I melted 1 tablespoon of mango butter, 1 tablespoon of beeswax, removed it from the heat, mixed it with a ¼ cup of my lavender oil infuser and then added 10 drops of lavender essential oil, 8 drops of geranium oil for scent, as well as a few drops of clary sage. I stirred it together thoroughly and then decanted the mixture the pretty vintage trinket box I got from my mom (I love using that particular trinket box for my bedside balms.) It’s up to you what kind of container you would like to store your balm in. Once decanted into its contain, the balm cools and hardens in 10 to 20 minutes. Here are a couple of lavender bedtime balm recipes if you would like to try making your own: Soothing Sleep Balm Recipe and Lavender Sleep Balm to Ease Your Dreams.

How to Create Intention Stones for the New Moon

N E W   M O O N. Intentions are prayers. Offer them to the Universe.

These gentle whispers got me wondering – How do You Explore and Honour your Intentions?

I set them all the time. I’m very good at writing them down. But lately, after a day or two, they rest on my journal pages, cast aside and forgotten about. So, when I sat breathing in the light of the almost-winter sun the other morning, I felt it necessary to do things differently. I decided to create intentions stones in anticipation of a fresh lunar cycle.

I like the thought of using tactile things (especially elements of Nature) to draw my intuition and the dreams in my heart out to the surface. The idea of intention stones offered itself as a pathway to invite the essence of Spirit into my physical experience a little more.

Thinking of intentions as prayers reminded me of some research I did years ago when I took a course on the history of beads. I discovered that the word bead is derived from the old Gemanic word ‘bede’, which means ‘prayer’. Literature on the history of beads relay stories of hermitic nomads known as the ‘Desert Mothers and Fathers’, a group of women and men who are said to have roamed the Egyptian desert around the 3rd century AD. As part of their spiritual practice, these desert mothers and fathers would recite 150 Psalms. The illiterate among them who couldn’t count well were given a bowl of 150 pebbles in order to help them keep count of their Psalms.

Each pebble became a Psalm, a soulful prose, a purposeful prayer…something that I find incredibly beautiful.

It must have been difficult for these spiritual nomads to carry around the weight of so many stones, because with time the bowl of pebbles was replaced by a knotted string (with 150 knots tied into it). Through the centuries the knotted strings evolved into strings of prayer beads. Adopted by various different cultures and religions they became the malas, prayer beads and rosaries that we know today.

I’ve seen many beautiful and different kinds of intention stones, inspiration pebbles or gratitude rocks. Most have a single word or short phrases carved into them to use as a mantra or meditation. I’ve heard stories of how some of the Japanese gather pebbles from temples, write their prayers on them and place these prayer pebbles at their household shrines. The prayer pebbles are then returned to the temples when their prayers have been answered. So I drew inspiration from all of these ideas when I created my own intention stones. I’ve used some of the smoothed stones that I collected at the Cape Agulhas beach (the Southern-most tip of Africa) last winter, the place where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet. Cape Agulhas was a childhood bucket list item, so it felt like a good way to bring the inspiring energy of having that particular dream realised into the my new intentions. Also, since one of my intentions focuses on ‘gentleness’ and ‘loving myself’, I chose to use a rose quartz pebble for that one.

I’ve put my intention stones on my bedside table and on my writing desk. That way I pick them up in the mornings when I wake up and in the evenings before bed. They stay in my awareness and I revisit them at various points in the day. It feels good to hold each of stone close to my heart, honour each of my intentions one by one, visualise them and offer a prayer. I’ll forever remember Marissa Moondaughter’s profound description of stones. She said: “Crystals and stones are the bones of Mother Earth; she willingly fractures her body so we can heal and commune with her energy”. Her words have added to the sacredness of my experience since working with these intention stones.

How to Make & Use Your Own Intention Stones

Making: The intention stones are pretty simple to make.
Take a moment to centre yourself, connect with your intuition and write down your new moon intentions. Then depending on what suites you best, typing and print the key words/phrases or write them down on small bits of paper.
Select the stones or crystals that you’d like to use. Stick the words/phrases onto your stones. Another option is to write your intentions on the stones with a marker. However, I thought it made sense to use bits of paper that I can easily clean off when I’m ready to set new intentions.

Using: Place your intention stones at your bedside or in a place where you will see and pick them up regularly.
Whenever you pick them up, hold them in your hand, meditate on them, visualise and be open to any guidance that may come to you.

The Moon and Wholeness

Is a crescent a broken moon?
The moon is always WHOLE,
even when parts of her fade into the darkness.

And so are you.

Like the moon, at the centre of your being is a loving light that will always guide you back to wholeness. Perhaps this is the gift that mother moon offers – a lesson of finding the light in broken times of darkness and how to weave ourselves into glowing masterpieces. With this in mind…

Let us plant seeds for wholeness this New Moon, and as the great mother moon swells with light and grows in her journey to fullness, may your tender heart fill with loving light and may you return to wholeness too.