The Medicine Wheel, Upcoming Workshop

Scattered across North America are stones arranged in a circle like spokes on a wheel. These sacred sites were built long ago by the Native American peoples, and continue to be sacred to those that build them today. Big Horn Medicine Wheel in Wyoming is one of the most well-known. At nearly 10,000 feet elevation at the top of a plateau, the structure is 80 feet in diameter with 28 spokes extending from a central stone circle 10 feet wide.

big-horn-medicine-wheel
Big Horn Medicine Wheel, Wyoming

These physical structures represent a body of spiritual teaching. “Medicine” for the indigenous tribes referred to anything that healed the body, mind, or spirit. These structures are also called “Wisdom Wheels” or “Sacred Hoops.” Wisdom is a “medicine” that can heal the mind and spirit. Finding your purpose can be a “medicine” that enlivens you with passion. Meditation is medicine that can heal the mind. Medicine also, of course, includes herbals, medications, food, and exercise, which heal the body.

There are many spiritual teachings from the medicine wheel. The lesson of harmony and alignment with the outer world is observed in the precise alignment of the spokes of the wheel. Most wheels are aligned to the four cardinal directions: north, south, east, and west.

Another wisdom teaching is balance. The four directions balance at the center of the wheel — just as our four aspects must be balanced: body, mind, emotion, spirit. Are you stuck in your head? Or are you overly focused on the physical body? Balance is a part of the wisdom of many cultures.

Another lesson from the Medicine Wheel, which is common to many indigenous cultures, is the circle. The circle represents the cycle of life that is observed in the world. The cycle of the day: morning, noon, evening, midnight. The cycle of the seasons: spring, summer, autumn, winter. When we apply this wisdom to our lives, we know that our lives have seasons – what we do in the spring is not the same as the winter. Are you planting in the right season? Is it time to plant or to harvest? … Life completes its cycle. When winter ends, spring begins again. And so every end is a new beginning. This is a message of hope from the wheel: when one phase of life ends (a job, a relationship, a home), then a new one begins.

For me, the teachings of the wheel are endless. Different Native American tribes have applied the teachings in different ways. As a tool of personal inquiry and inner exploration, it has been extremely helpful in setting intentions and manifesting change in my life. The wheel teaches that life is change, and teaches the resilience to work through the cycles of change in life. Stay tuned for more blog posts on the medicine wheel, and I encourage you to explore the teachings of the wheel for yourself.

Upcoming CoursesJanuary 11-15, 2017, I will be co-teaching the Release and Renewal New Year’s workshop annual retreat with my friend Suzanne Scurlock-Durana in the beautiful Sedona, Arizona. This retreat is part of the Healing From The Core curriculum. We will slow down and use the wisdom of the medicine wheel to set new intentions for the coming year with sacred ceremony, meditation, movement, breathwork, and a deeply healing community experience. The prerequisite is the intro class in the curriculum. If you have taken the intro class, come out and join us in this deeply healing retreat where we will explore the wisdom of the Medicine Wheel and apply it to our individual lives.

Read updates on my Upcoming Courses.

Dr. Joel Ying, MD

Physician, Educator, Storyteller. He hosts this website for "Living the Present Moment" as a conscious journey of Body, Mind & Spirit. Holistic and integrative, his practice includes Tai Chi and Yoga, Craniosacral Therapy, Healing From the Core, Meditation. Always exploring his edges, he shares them in the blog, newsletter, courses, and online study group.

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One thought on “The Medicine Wheel, Upcoming Workshop

  1. Sandy says:

    Thanks for sharing, Joel! Well said. I loved my experience last year and your ground and fill. I know this year the class will be life transforming!!

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