“Taking time each new moon and full moon to shift out of our linear busy mode to pay attention to our inner lives and our deepest wishes can have a transformational effect,” says Julie Gladstone, owner of Toronto’s Gallery 555 and instructor of my very first full moon workshop.
This is especially relevant for many of us pavement-pounding young professionals who find ourselves consumed by the ever-moving city on the regular.
“My interest in working with the moon cycles developed out of a desire to feel more connected to nature while living in downtown Toronto,” said Gladstone. “The moon exerts such a powerful force on earth; it influences the tidal flows of the ocean, weather patterns, the reproductive phases of animals, the germination and growth of crops, women’s moon cycle, our moods, sleep and dream patterns.”
While I had heard the term “full moon workshop” tossed around by my more mindful friends, coworkers and business associates, I didn’t really fully understand what it meant (seriously, I think I called them ‘full moon parties’ more than once). So, I decided to check out Gallery 555’s Moon Yoga + Writing Workshop on Friday, February 10 – and it was an eye-opening experience. Thanks to the head-clearing walk home and the telling dreams later that night, I quickly realized why a growing number of people are turning to the cycles of the moon for personal growth and healing.
Through a series of guided contemplative writing inquiries, the idea of these full moon gatherings is to sort through and integrate the events and lessons of the past month, all while in community. It also incorporates moon yoga.
“In my work as an artist, a healer and a teacher, I discovered that working with the moon phases is great way to be in tune with the ebb and flow of nature’s cycles even from within the city limits,” said Gladstone. “Working with the moon phases has been a way of understanding my emotional life, trusting in my intuitive abilities and tapping into life’s mysteries.”
I admit; I was more than a tad nervous upon arrival, having never done anything like this. Immediately, however, you quickly realize that – lined with yoga mats and blankets under soothing lighting – it’s a totally safe, judgment-free space. In fact, you find yourself so immersed in your own self-reflection that you barely notice anyone else in the room.
We begin with a body check-in before turning to our notebooks for emotional mapping, whereby we were asked to draw the physical feelings we were experiencing. Though my map ended up looking a little like a crazy stick figure on fire, it was telling to draw out the physical manifestations of things like anxiety, confusion and restlessness.
Next was a restorative heart-opening pose and opening the mind and body to intuition. Gladstone offered a review of the Waxing Moon phase, including the ability to identify main events, energy levels, key lessons and gifts received in our lives, along with the main questions, challenges and emotions experienced. It’s also key to identify what to resolve and things to let go of. We were asked to identify such things in our own lives and write them down.
Next was a clearing, shaking and releasing yoga sequence. This was my first time doing “moon yoga,” whereby its moon salutations involve a sequence of yoga poses connected to the different moon phases. “This helps us with the moon transition and understanding the ebb and flow of life,” says Gladstone.
We were then asked to tap into our inner authentic voice (which isn’t an easy task for some) to identify whether there was a change we had been contemplating in life. If so, we were asked to consider what is holding us back, and what would happen if we took a leap.
A change could involve a relationship, your career or shift in lifestyle in everything from dieting to unhealthy vices.
We were asked what the bravest thing we could do right now, and what we would do if we didn’t have the guilt and fear of taking the leap. We contemplated questions like what we would tell ourselves if we could look back on ourselves from the future. Then, Gladstone asked us to carefully consider what the most important thing for ourselves was. Next was the “hunger moon/snow moon inquiry,” which involved candle gazing to stabilize the heart and mind to achieve that campfire-like calm. Here, we were asked to consider the things we were grateful for, and the things that nourish us.
The wish and release full moon ritual writing saw us write on a piece of paper something we wanted to let go of in our lives and what we were ready to change. We were told to later burn the paper when we got home. The evening ended with a deep relaxation with moonstone and our third eye – something designed to awaken intuition. Finally, we were each given a Kwan Yin – Goddess of Compassion oracle card.
While the whole thing may sounds a little “out there” to some (including the guy who rolled his eyes at the idea on a date), it could be just what you’re missing in your all-consuming life (and it’s cheaper than therapy). In today’s climate, the need for safe, contemplative spaces in the city is heightened like never before. “We offer a space where people can tap into their healing and intuitive abilities while in community,” says Gladstone.
Gallery 555’s next Full Moon Gathering is on Saturday March 11th 6:30 – 8:30pm.