athenagrey: (Default)
 This week, the Spiritual Nomads are getting down to earth, getting down with the beat, and focusing on spiritual self care. 

I have always danced, gypsy-style, and always felt closer to my authentic self when in motion. I have always smiled, and am just learning so much about the power of a smile from reading the works of Thich Nhat Hanh. Smiles and dancing, what is the link?  Both make me feel good, make feel so alive that anything is possible.  It really is.

In the early years of this journal, I used to write a lot about dancing and my relationship with my body.  I was recovering from being hit by that taxi, and was mostly aware of my body in terms of what I couldn't do. I kept on dancing, first with my hands, later, swaying in place and moving with gentle, sliding steps. Now, I mostly can dance as I used to dance.  I am slower than before, but filled with deeper feeling and more expressive movement. I am one of those ruby-dark wines now. I dance for myself. I dance to connect with the energies of the South, of fire and of will and passion. I dance in unison with the Goddess.

What a beautiful thing to honor the body, the smile and movement as sacred. I should honor this body, because it is the only one I will have in this lifetime.  I am comfortable in my own skin, and I believe I am still a work in progress.

Thich Nhat Hanh said, "To love is, first of all, to accept ourselves as we are."  That's something written in my Journey book. 

So much of my spiritual practice is about accepting myself.  Yoga comes onto the mat and meets me where I am.  Some days, the asanas I choose feel easy and I slide deeply into them; other days, those rainy and cold ones, the same asanas feel completely different, and I merely sketch them with my body, because that's where the edge is.

Sure, I could be thinner and I should eat healthier food. 

In loving-kindness meditation, the first intentions are for the self...may I be happy, may I be healthy, may I be safe, may I know peace.  Then, filled with these intentions, I am ready to smile them forth to you, to them, to all beings--especially to those I struggle to understand, like my political and spiritual opposites--people who probably struggle to understand me, too.

I am more than my body. I believe I am part of something more permanent and Something more universal. But all that needs a sacred vessel to contain it. That's the body I honor. The smile comes out on my face, but it comes from deep within the spiral of the heart.
athenagrey: (Default)
I solve problems visually, so I'm focusing on the altar as the visual manifestation of everything else I am thinking about.

If I were to give myself carte blanche to rebuild it from the bottom up, this is the way it might be--

Terra cotta dupioni silk altar cloth

Kuan Yin.  Where I am in my practice right now, She is the face of the Goddess. 

Flowers.  Real ones.  Even a sprig of evergreen would be OK in the winter. 

The Elements. Incense, water, salt, candle

OK. Let me think about this for a bit. It sounds clean and simple.  I am keeping the sky and the bell tower. They are not mine to put away  ;-)

Tabula rasa

Feb. 6th, 2012 10:07 pm
athenagrey: (Default)
I have been wondering for a while why my spiritual practice works the way it does, and why such a diverse set of practices resonate with me. I live in a jumble of meditation, kirtan, and goddess spirituality mixed with ordinary witchcraft. I accept that it is deeply personal and unique. I would like to take some time to ask why and why and why. I'd like to open the windows and air out my mind.

Diane Sylvan, who wrote The Circle Within, has the gift of asking the right questions, the kind that we each answer according to our own heart. I am grateful to spend the next few weeks as her student, to be a spiritual nomad.

This week finds me tracing my spiritual history, which I will not share in depth.  You know about my long lineage of Quakers, the comfort of silence, my oft interrupted journey as a witch and priestess.  You know that I meditate and practice yoga--not just hatha but pranayama, bhakti and seva.  You know I also walk lightly on the Zen path--again for the silence and meditation. 

"Clear your altar," she said.  "Which ones?" I whimpered.  The entire house is an altar.  OK, I'll start in the place where I meditate.
  • Photograph of Swami Kripalu--teacher, guru. I wish I had known him personally, but his teachings live on at the Kripalu Center. I go there each spring to restore my balance. I keep his picture to remember why.
  • Paper daisy in a vase.  Flowers on my altar.  I admit that I am not home enough to keep fresh flowers, but its the thought that counts. A stranger gave me the flower.  Random kindness is so rare in this cold and greedy city, that I cherish the memory of this small gift.
  • Image of Kuan Yin--Goddess, Bodisattva. This is Her altar.
  • Bowl of water--offering. Perhaps it evaporates, perhaps Indigo kitten drinks the water--I offer and it is taken.
  • Incense--offering.  This one transforms into Her gift to me, wisps of smoke painting patterns that are ever changing
  • Candle--offering.  Giving and receiving Light.
  • The red box.  A riser for the altar, and another offering.  Painting the box was an act of ritual.  So many thin washes of reds and browns give depth and translucence to the paint. 
  • Metta prayer beads, four full moons, one for each line of the prayer...may you be happy...may you be healthy...may you be safe...may you know peace.
  • Silk altar cloth, artfully woven Japanese brocade.  Maybe the images aren't quite right for my altar, but it is a touch of home for Kuan Yin.
I have set these aside for now.  Some in a box, some tucked around the room, in the places they came from. A few things remain...

  • The altar itself.  I remember my mother drinking tea here, looking out the window. I remember Amber cat curled up asleep.  Family, all gone now. Memories remain.
  • Beyond the windows, the sky, with the bell tower standing as a pointer to NOW.
  • My cushions on the floor. Zafu and zabuton.
What is it like to meditate here? I chose to breathe to the mantra So Hum, meaning I am That. The mind wanders.  So Hum transforms to Sat Nam and back again. Quiet bliss and longing.  I feel slightly disconnected. The altar seems so huge and empty. I can see Quan Yin, right where She should be.  I am not alone.

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athenagrey

June 2012

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