By Casey McCarthy

This exercise sets the tone and intention for moving from singular consciousness in favor of communal process by letting go of expectations and other ways we limit our potential. While this exercise does not need to be intense, it’s important approach this endeavor with a level of seriousness. As this is a self guided exercise, you will get out of this exercise what you put in. Set aside 10 to 20 minutes. Find a quiet place where you can be undisturbed for this time period.

Entering a state of presence

Start with a sitting posture that ensures comfort and spinal support. If sitting on the floor, you may want to use a sitting cushion, a rolled up towel, or something similar in order to raise the tailbone up. You can also use a chair by sitting on the edge of the chair so that your tailbone, or perineum, is on the edge. The idea is to create a “soft front, hard back”. Your front should feel relaxed and supple, while your back is rigid and follows the natural curvature of your spine. If you are unable to do this, get yourself into a position where you are comfortable but alert.

Fold your hands over each other and create an oval with your thumbs in which the thumbs lightly touch- not too tight, not too loose. If you are too tight your thumbs will dig into each other, if they are too loose the oval will collapse.

Bring your awareness to what is just in front of you, but do not focus upon it. You can tuck your chin slightly and put your tongue on the roof of your mouth to stop your salivary glands from activating and distracting you.

The Oss – The Breath

In the creation myths, Odin gifted breath to humanity. We tap into the sacred power of breath for this practice. Inhale and exhale through the nose, so that the mouth does not become dry and distract you. From here, relax your breathing into a calm and deliberate rhythm. If other thoughts arise, accept that they’re there and just return to focusing on the breath. It is important to emphasize that we are not trying to control our thoughts or force our mind to be clear. Kindness towards self is vital to move towards self compassion and eventually a communal experience.

Count the breath on each exhale: inhale, exhale – 1, inhale, exhale – 2, and so on until you reach 10. Restart when you get to 10 so you don’t distract yourself with “how high can I go”. If you lose the rhythm or become distracted, restart the breath count.

Just as the World Tree was once a seed, we begin in that place of silence before the majesty of newness and beauty springs forth. I can imagine Odin also takes a moment of repose in quiet stillness before his task. This stage is the beginning of our journey beyond the ego self – self judgment, the illusion of self control, and the need to judge others by how we judge ourselves. Following the All-Father’s wisdom, slow down and appreciate every step of the process as it unfolds, without expectations. How we engage here with ourselves sets the stage or all of the other steps in the process. Maintain an intention of presence and self-acceptance.

Until tomorrow, friends!

Part 3: Approaching the World Tree