Hummingbird lessons

Posted by Kenetha Stanton on

a hummingbird in flight

There is a hummingbird feeder hanging just outside the window of my study. I filled it and hung it out last spring as soon as the weather warmed enough that I didn't need to worry about it freezing because I love to watch these tiny iridescent creatures hover in the air.

It seemed for months as if they had passed me by this year for some other more inviting source of food. Then about a month ago, they suddenly appeared and can be seen at the feeder several times a day, sometimes drinking the sugar-water as they hover in the air, sometimes coming to rest on the little perch to drink more deeply.

I know that there are at least two of them who come to visit my feeder because I've watched them try to chase each other away. Despite the fact that there are eight openings for them to choose from, neither of them is willing to allow the other one to drink from the feeder at the same time.

Their acrobatic flight maneuvers as they dive bomb and chase one another are mesmerizing to watch. They flash in and out of the view from the window as they circle and dive and soar away. They dart into and through the nearby bush, hiding for a moment in the leaves before streaking out again toward the enemy.

I frequently find myself completely distracted from whatever I was at my computer to do as I watch these tiny warriors in action. Their size is no measure of their ferocity.

It seems fitting that the shamanic tradition with which I am most familiar connects the hummingbird with the solar plexus chakra—our seat of personal power. This is the resource that we call on when we set boundaries, when we proactively take action in the world, or when we make choices that are authentic for us (as opposed to choosing out of obligation to others).

The fierceness with which these little airborne gems defend their space reminds me of the fierceness that I need to develop in being able to stand my own ground in the midst of daily life. One of my biggest failures is allowing myself to be pressured into abandoning myself in order to be "nice" to other people.

This is not to say that we should never do things for other people or never compromise, but there is a difference in choosing to do something for someone else and being pressured into sacrificing some part of yourself for another's gain in a way that does damage to your own soul. It is this latter situation that I often find myself giving into out of a need to appear "nice" and to avoid conflict.

My ability to stand my ground is something I never learned to do. It's a place that was broken in me early and has led to much suffering in the years since.

It is interesting that the arrival of these symbols of personal power appeared just as I found myself being tested on this front again and realizing just how deeply this tendency to give up my personal power still goes ... and just how deep the wounds are when I find my feeble attempts to express my personal power ignored or assaulted.

I clearly have even more work to do in this area than I thought I did, even as I am able to see progress from where I once was. Just yesterday, I pushed back against two different procedures that the dental office wanted to do while I was there to get a broken tooth fixed. There is a time I would not have been able to do that, but I didn't think twice before doing so yesterday. I'm proud of myself for that. Baby steps still count!

But I still have work to do, and I am storing up my mental images of these tiny warriors to use as my role models the next time I find myself in situations where I feel bullied into giving away pieces of myself. Just like the hummingbirds outside my window, I hope to learn to take flight to protect myself from "invaders" when necessary.

How have you learned to claim your personal power? What helps you stand your ground when you feel pressured to give in to something you know is unhealthy for you?

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