“It is for love that the whole universe sprang into existence, and it is for the sake of love that it is kept going.” -Meher Baba
It amazes me how deeply I belong in India. You would think, from the outside, that I would feel out of place. There are so many differences: culture, physical appearance, experience, frame of reference, mannerisms, language, etc. Somehow with all of that I am more at home in India, inside myself, than anywhere else I’ve been.
“The need to identify with someone, to feel a part of something, to belong somewhere, is one of our most basic needs. With the exception of self-preservation, no other striving is as compelling as this need, which begins with our caregivers or significant others and extends to family, peer group, culture, nation and world.” –John Bradshaw, Healing the Shame that Binds You
My first pilgrimage was in February 1998. I came for Meher Baba’s birthday celebration. When I got off the plane in Bombay (Mumbai), I literally wanted to roll around on the ground. I suddenly had roots, a place where I was from. I am sure it was a past life memory. I had returned home. To say I was blissed out would have been accurate. Up to this point, I never felt like I fit anywhere, not in my family of origin, the town where I was from, our culture…because of this I didn’t really belong inside of my own being. Returning to India gave me a central axis. Don’t get me wrong, I am a westerner, an American, and I appreciate this. If I was meant to be born in India this lifetime I would have been. There are things I need to do and learn and love in my life there. I am grateful for the sacrifices that have been made to enable me to have the freedom that I have, and will forever be grateful for the resources that have brought me this far.
Having a place to come to to get filled up spiritually, to check in with oneself at a deep level, to take stock, is so humanizing. To have no pressures externally for a time, to journal, pray, meditate, stop and stare at things, have space to cry, to move and breathe, man, I tell you, it is where it is at. I had no idea how much I needed my time here. To root in, to feel at one with the earth, to have a sense of boundarylessness with the physical environment, it is heaven. The energy here is ancient, deep, powerful and peaceful.
Initially I had trepidation about taking a month, but now I see it was so wise. It takes time to adjust, and then to unfold from within. I feel areas of my heart that are locked up, afraid to feel, frozen, in need of love. Bit by bit I pray that the defenses soften. I am in a spiritual community with a spiritual focus, and India as a country and culture is spiritually focused and inclined, it is integrated into the society. I am not blind to the difficulties, I see the disparity in the caste system alone, the inequities and injustice. We certainly have our own inequalities in the U.S. I just read in Yoga Journal that 85% of yoga practitioners in the US are white, 85%! For now my time and insulation is a much needed gift and I will cherish it, not trying to solve all the world’s problems in my head.
I will revel in my time here, drink it in, take one day at a time and remain grateful. May we all have moments, times in our lives, precious spaces where we can go and fill up, and empty out. I have the great good fortune to have here. Ultimately though we find it within our own heart.
“There is a beautiful story of a kasturi-mriga, or musk deer, that brings out the nature of all spiritual sadhana (practice). Once, while roaming about and frolicking among hills and dales, the kasturi-mriga was suddenly aware of an exquisitely beautiful scent, the like of which it had never known. The scent stirred the inner depths of its soul so profoundly that it determined to find the source.
So keen was its longing that notwithstanding the severity of cold or the intensity of scorching heat, by day as well as by night, the deer carried on its desperate search for the source of the sweet scent. It knew no fear or hesitation but undaunted went on its elusive search, until at last, happening to lose its foothold on a cliff, it had a precipitous fall resulting in a fatal injury.
While breathing its last, the deer found that the scent that had ravished its heart and inspired all these efforts came from its own navel. This last moment of the deer’s life was its happiest, and there was on its face inexpressible peace.
All spiritual sadhanas of the aspirant are like the efforts of the kasturi-mriga. The final fructification of sadhana involves the termination of the ego-life of the aspirant. At that moment there is the realization that he himself has, in a sense, been the object of all his search and endeavor.
All that he suffered and enjoyed — all his risks and adventures, all his sacrifices and desperate strivings — were intended for achieving true Self-knowledge, in which he loses his limited individuality only to discover that he is really identical with God, who is in everything.
From Meher Baba‘s Discourses, page 264-5.
Self Care for PMS
Essential Oil PMS Bath
Add 5 drops Clary Sage, 5 drops Ylang Ylang, 4 drops Grapefruit, 3 drops Geranium and 1 tsp carrier oil to your bath water. I like to fill the tub with just enough water that I can lie down with my face exposed and put my legs up the wall. Then I can breathe in the smells while getting the benefits and relaxation of the inversion as well.
Clary sage is an incredible essential oil. In the book, “Ayurveda & Aromatherapy,” by Light and Bryan Miller, it reads, “Clary Sage is a gift to the female; no woman should ever be without it. It gives women a sense of clarity and empowerment, helping to get rid of monthly bloat, depression and anxiety, regulating menses, and cooling down hot flashes. It is a gift to the Goddess.” It also says that it is especially effective at feeding estrogen through the skin. I rub it on my lower abdomen when I start feeling the feels of PMS. You can put it in a diffuser as it will enter your blood stream breathing it in, add it to a carrier oil and rub it on, or in the bath.
Hormonal changes can be rough: insomnia, mood swings, intensified emotional states, fatigue, bloating, cravings…but it also is a time to listen, to slow down, and carve out space for yourself, to nurture and affirm your worth and inherent goodness.
I used grapeseed oil because I have it so am using it up; but, I have fractionated coconut oil on my shopping list. There are lots to pick from: almond, jojoba, avocado, etc.
For the essential oils, I really love Plant Therapy and their oils. They have aromatherapists on staff that you can email and ask questions, fair prices, free shipping, and lotsa great info on their site; check them out (www.planttherapy.com). I have no stake in the matter, just sharing the love. There are a lot of wonderful companies in business today.
Oh, and for any bath to be complete, add chill BFF for good vibes.
Yin is In
The healing quality it provides the mind is incredible. There is something special that happens in a yin yoga class; it is a gentle, kind spiritual experience. We strive a lot in life: to pay the bills, accomplish, provide, keep up, progress, take care, etc. In yin we allow ourselves to be where we are and to press pause on the strive button. We come into a posture and notice how it feels, how our bodies feel, we surrender into it…as we breathe the tension releases, it is therapeutic, like a mini vacation.
Striving is important, we must continue to grow and accomplish and slay our goals. But balancing the striving with being, allowing, unfolding, feeling, gestating… these are essential. At times, underneath the striving is a need to be seen, to be loved, to be cared for, to be enough. In our Yin practice we are able to witness our own beingness in the Presence of Beingness. In this experience there are glimpses of our enoughness, our completeness, of our lack of truly lacking anything. It isn’t about “it” being out there and we gotta get it so we are somehow ok, worthy, lovable. We already are.
More and more I recognize the universality of whatever I am experiencing. It may be in different degrees, may manifest itself differently, may have different circumstances attached but underneath, we are all very much alike. That being said I thought the following incident could be helpful for you:
I tend to be critical of myself and this morning I looked in the mirror and started to mentally pick. I realized what I was doing (yay!) and stepped back so I could take a good look. I looked at my eyes and said, “I love my eyes”; then my teeth, “I love my teeth”; my face, skin, neck, etc. all down the line. I really looked at myself as a whole person and affirmed myself. “I love how my neck is nice and long.” “My hair is so thick, I really like it.” It felt nourishing and kind and made me feel better inside.
So much of our lives go by without really cherishing and appreciating who we are and it is easy to be critical and hard on ourselves. Take a moment today to really look at and appreciate your physical being. Make a point of saying good things: what do you like about yourself? Hold yourself in the light of appreciation and drink in the good feelings it creates. We all blossom with a little kindness and affirmation.