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Archive for the ‘Spirituality’ Category

Mozart digs a hole – Photo by Kersti Abawi

I remember sitting in the meditation hall at the ashram in India, listening to our teacher, Saraswati Vasudevan, talk about digging holes. The lesson was so effective that it is still with me today, over a decade later. She was describing what she had observed in many students, an attitude and set of behaviours that serve as blocks to effective practice and transformation. It’s something I witness as well, so I would like to share this lesson with you today. It went something like this (Actually it went nothing like this. I’ve put my own spin on it. 😉 ):


You are told that, without a doubt, if you stand on the spot where you are and you begin digging, you will find water. You are thirsty to your very core and you have no water. It is an absolute guarantee that you will find water right…..there. All you need to do is start digging. With great enthusiasm, you begin to dig. You know the person who has led you in this direction and you trust them implicitly. In fact, you know that they too have been thirsty like you. They have stood on that spot and have dug a hole. They have found water and know, without a doubt, that it is still there. You will do as they do. Why would they lead you astray?

Dig….dig…dig…..

Okay, I’m an inch down now. No sign of water.

Keep digging. It’s there. I promise.

Dig…dig…dig…

One foot down. No water. Okay, I’m getting irritated now. Where’s the water?

(Doubt starts to creep in. Maybe my guide has steered me wrong. Nah, that can’t be right. They wouldn’t do that to me.)

Dig…dig…dig…

2 feet down. No water.

(I start to look around at other spots. Maybe it’s over there? Maybe I heard wrong? Maybe this is all a joke?)

Dig…dig…dig…

6 feet. No water.

(Now I’m angry. THIS IS RIDICULOUS! I jump out of the hole. And run over there ——-> and start digging. Nothing. Then I run over there <———- and do the same thing. NOTHING! No water. NO WATER! What a joke! So I give up and walk away and tell all sorts of people all sorts of stories about how “this stuff” just doesn’t work.)

If only you had known that the water flows freely at 6 feet and 1 inch.


Think about it. 😉

Blessings,

Tabitha

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Erica and I on retreat – 2008

Erica Ross

Years ago (more like decades ago) there was a tiny ad on the side of a page in Vitality magazine that read “The Gate of the Goddess”. It was a dance series for women that centered around embodying the energy of various Goddesses. There was something about that ad that I couldn’t get over. I kept going back to it, and back to it. It struck a chord in me and ignited a longing that I had buried since my feminist theology days in university. I wanted to go to that series but I felt scared. I paced around the house for hours trying to find the courage to make the phone call (Yes, we actually had to CALL one another back then!) and register. It took a long time but I eventually dialed the number and connected with a woman who would change my life forever – Erica Ross.

I sometimes look at her website or her Facebook page and wonder, “What doesn’t this woman do?” She’s a dancer who has facilitated embodied movement workshops for women around the world. She creates music sets for an online movement group called Rise and Shine…Shake Online. She’s an artist who designs clothing and jewelry. She paints and is taking offers for commissioned work. She has written a book, She Reflects. And now she’s taking her experience of over 40 years in the creative arts and is companioning people like me who are working to bring their own creative brilliance out into the world.

Erica Ross is my Spirit Mumma. I have sat at her feet and learned from her. I have danced with her, retreated with her, performed ritual with her, laughed with her and cried with her. I have pushed against her. I have rebelled. And always she is there, ready to wrap me in her warm arms and reflect back to me the absolute best of who I am. As she says, “We are divine mirrors for each other.”

Do you need to get your groove on? Maybe you need to relax in meditation? Or need to remember who you are? Or desire a unique piece of art? Check out Erica’s offerings: www.ericaross.com. As I said about her, “Her space is a safe space.  I would recommend time with Erica to anyone.

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While in the shower the other day, I was brought back to a conversation I had with a student right before this Covid-19 emergency broke wide open.  D. has a real interest in meditation and silent retreats.  That night she was asking me about the Vipassana retreats held up around Barrie, ON.  I’ve never attended these retreats but have met several people who have.  They’re intense.  10 days, 20 days, 30 days of silence and seated meditation.  In this tradition, food is limited, contact with others is prohibited, as is physical exercise, reading, writing, texting, and so on.  The day’s schedule is set and does not waiver.  Hours and hours of seated meditation with a videotaped teaching by Goenka in the evenings.  There is no hugging.  No consoling your neighbour should they fall apart.  No eye contact.  You exist within a community but are very much focused on being a single cell of the community.  These retreats are meant to take you deep inside. They turn up the heat of transformation.  They are meant to strip you down so you can emerge a truer form of yourself.

That night at the condo D. asked, “How do you prepare for one of these things?”  I had to admit that I did not know.

I remembered all of this the other day and, standing in the shower, I burst out laughing.  I spoke to D (possibly out loud just so I could hear a human voice) and said, “THIS! This is how you prepare.”  This strange Covid-19 situation.  Right now I think I would take it even one step further and say this is the retreat and this virus is our best teacher for it.  Nuts, right?  But hear me out.

We are being forced inside.  For those on total lockdown, care needs to be taken about how much food is consumed so that there’s enough to last the duration.  The rest of us are left to our own devices.  Many are able to work from home but many others, like myself, are out of work.  There is so…much…time.  And this is where it gets interesting.  Out of a regular routine, out of our connections to our work-time labels (teacher, engineer, etc.), nowhere to go because things are shut down, unable to meet up with friends and family to pass the time, our shit comes bubbling up.  We find ourselves heating up.  We become impatient, moody, argumentative.  We search everywhere for a distraction.  And let me tell you, there is no shortage of Covid-19 “distract yourself” stuff out there.  Online classes abound.  Downloadable colouring pages to keep the kids occupied.  E-books to read.  And, of course, there are all the streaming services offering visual entertainment to numb your mind.

But none of it really seems to be helping us feel better.  Everywhere I look people are freaking out.  But damnit, aren’t we making like it’s business as usual?  Hey, we have video conferencing and the internet!  We can keep working like it’s a regular work week.  Miss your Yoga?  Here are 3300 online options for you.  You, Yoga teacher.  You’re out of work?  How about filming some classes for sale, or record some meditations?

I’ll admit it, I’ve been sucked into it as well.  I’ve felt like a colossal failure for not hopping on the bandwagon when everyone else seems to have.  And then, last night, I came across this blessed quote by Emma Zeck:

With this open time

You do not have to write the next bestselling novel

You do not have to get in the best shape of your life

You do not have to start that podcast….

What if we became curious with this free time,

& had no agenda other than to experience being?

When I read those words, something in me let go.  This is no time for me to go on like nothing unusual is happening.  I’m on retreat.  This is no time for me to be a leader or a teacher.  I’m on retreat.  This is no time for me to spark up the old webcam and pretend like I have my shit together because, my friends, my life and everything all around me is on totally new ground, and my stance is pretty unsteady.

I’m on retreat.  Covid-19 retreat.  And so are you.  The whole world has joined this transformative process.  When I drop my trauma, my drama and my suffering for a moment, I am in absolute awe over this whole thing.  To stand here as a witness.  To know there will be another side to this and that I will likely be here to see that other side.  It is so intense it leaves me speechless.

The fire of deep transformation burns like nothing else.  It is meant to take us down and incinerate us so we can rise up, stronger than we were at the beginning.  Blacksmiths know this as they forge metals.  Alchemists know this as they use fire to transform materials to create something new and unique.  And Yogi-s know this.  So they fast and sit and meditate in silence for hours and days and years.

What would happen if we all symbolically stripped bare and sat right at the centre of this enormous fire?  I guess we’ll find out, hunh?  Cuz we’re in it, like it or not.  I do hope to meet you on the other side.  😉  I can’t wait to see what this Phoenix will look like.

Offering so much Love,

Tabitha

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