Well-Being Wednesday-Creating a Secret, Sensual Space

Standard

https://mustardseed07.wordpress.com/2015/06/03/well-being-wednesday-creating-a-secret-sensual-space/

Well Being Wednesday- Creating a Secret Sensual Space

Standard
Well Being Wednesday- Creating a Secret Sensual Space 2015-04-04 12.42.35

This year, at Easter we visited Marrakech, Morocco on holiday. It is not my first time to an Arabic culture but this time I had a focus with me that created a moment of serendipity.

I was focused upon the senses particularly the sense of smell and how to capture this through photography.

A common feature of an Arabic home is the inner court-yard. On the outside Arabic homes appear austere and unassuming, just rectangular blocks of stone. Yet once you enter the doorway, the interior frequently leads you through ornately tiled corridors into open spaces with fountains and light, plants and flowers. When I visit Arabic influenced cultures I am constantly glancing through open doorways, which I am sure if noticed, must cause the owners to think I am pretty nosey.

IMG_20150420_192037

This inner courtyard in an Arabic home is considered a private, almost secret place and usually caters to all the senses. Firstly the eyes are assaulted by design and colour: opulent carpets and carved friezes; reflections from glass and tiles, water and sunlight pour through foliage. Then there is sound: the trickle of water in fountains and pools; birdsong winding its way along the long walls that stretch upwards towards the sky, opening up into light and wind. And then there is scent: petals of roses in water, blossoms cascading over the rims of cauldrons, their fragrance delicate in the night air: rose, patchouli, orange, bergamot. It is truly luxurious. Taste is not exempt nor is touch as you sit in the soft sunshine or in shade, being caressed by light breezes, sipping mint tea and nibbling on sweetly dissolving cookies and dates.

IMG_20150404_192753

I had been thinking about perfume and had re-read the novel Perfume by Patrick Susskind. I was thinking how difficult it is to describe scent without referring to the other senses. Susskind’s description of scents, the place Grasse, and the lives of the perfume merchants were very vivid to me, and I was intrigued by the techniques he used. I was also thinking about my own favourite scents and how perfume affects me, especially on the level of imagery. In other words what happens to me physically (as in memories and images) , emotionally and psychologically when I smell a particular scent. As a result these gardens struck me as something synononous with creating a secret, sacred, sensual space within my spiritual life/ home. We put perfume on our skin in those secret places on our bodies inviting intimacy and pleasure. So too the Arabs adorn their most secret spaces in their homes as a homage to the senses. I asked myself:

Do I have such a place for myself, inside my heart?

How am I creating a lusciously sensuous place just for me within my very soul?

Here are some of the things I do and recommend:

Carve out sacred time for your self each day- imagine you are in your secret garden of the senses. You might begin simply by observing the breath, or your thoughts, or what is around you sensually. Judge nothing in your experience.

Llight candles, create an altar or what is known as a sacred space in your home. Have flowers and scent and all the sweet things you enjoy-maybe you might start on an imaginary level, but later on you can create this physically in your home.

What about a secret journal?
What about a sacred work room in your home or a spot in your garden- make it a project?

Have you got an imaginary sacred space in your imagination? A place you go to to meet yourself, your past and your future wishes and dreams.

I am constantly creating secret, sacred and luscious spaces just for me, where pleasure blooms just for me.

Self-Care

Serious WritersWrite.05.15

Advertisements

Sacred Sunday- What Makes a Spiritual Person- My Response

Standard

https://mustardseed07.wordpress.com/2015/05/31/sacred-sunday-what-makes-a-spiritual-person-my-response/

20150518_191458

Once again illness has dogged me so i apologise for not meeting my Wednesday deadline.

AUTHENTICITY_WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

About 10-15 years ago I came to the conclusion that THE FORCE INSIDE US and THE FORCE OUTSIDE US CREATED EVERYTHING: both black and white, good and evil. Therefore everything is “spiritual”, to use that label. Furthermore there are some things allowed way beyond my understanding. I have accepted that also. So “GOD is a good FUCK!” I know that makes you pause doesn’t it? For me it’s TRUTH! “GOD IS A GOOD FUCK AND MUCH MORE” (Bumper Sticker Moment BSM). People may find it difficult to reconcile God and fuck but it’s my way of acknowledgeing that God is EVERYTHING. My job is to learn or to desire to suspend judgement. I say desire because some things you just can’t achieve without grace. Maybe as a person becomes more conscious it is not that they choose dark over light but rather their judgement becomes less sharp and therefore the dark loses it’s attraction. They see truth and all else becomes the question how can I help? How can I be of service to this great, creative, magnanimus power?

If we start from that premise it opens a lot of doors to what it means to be a “spiritual person.” Firstly let me say spiritual is a label, religious is a label. So to define what I mean when I use the word spiritual is to say-a person concerned or interested in their interior world, and the metaphysical aspects of this world. That’s my definition and that can be just about anybody.

Religion is about the law and in some cases a cultural identity and a way of life. The Ancient Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans were very keen on creating “religions” in order to control and manage the peoples they conquered and we’ve inherited that tradition through many of our main-stream religions. So religion interests me because it is part of our societal make-up, it is our attempt to create and maintain order, and it is causing a whole lot of bother in today’s world! In my estimation it is a human construction and can lead to self-knowledge, but as we can see most times not.

Personally I believe this life is a wild ride-we cannot control this ride, we cannot control the events in our lives no matter how hard we may try. Through-out time man has tried to control this “wild ride”. The “wild ride” is actually a pagan terminology and in the ancient times it was the embodiment of Nature. Our ancestors sort to appease Nature in order to be in Nature’s good graces, very much like most religions today. In our modern world the “wild ride” is disease, dis-ease, a lack of fulfilment, depression, accidents, things falling apart, the mess both inside and global, suffering and death. We are constantly trying to harness it, fix it, and make the things we want happen.

the_wild_hunt_by_lyekka-d6vrnw1

Well here’s the thing: WE CAN NOT! The only thing we can “control” is ourselves. The only thing we can control is how we choose to greet the world: our interior world and our exterior world. Will we fight and rage against it, or will we embrace it, the entire wildness of it and take the ride, not passively but actively involved and living our best selves, mistakes, warts and all!

The truth is we can’t manage life; we must let go for the magic to start. We all have wants- we want a loving relationships; we want our children to have peace and fulfilment; we want our physical needs to be met, we want purpose and validation all sorts of things. We should desire, but learn to let go of it. When we begin to focus on what we actually control which is ourselves, our bodies, our thoughts and our feelings, we send a message to the Universe that everything else belongs to IT, and the Universe responds by taking over. When I use the word “control” I don’t mean coerce or dominate but rather direct or focus, and the control/ choice we have is to fear or trust, fight against or embrace.

Many years ago I had a conversation with a young seminarian who was a scholar of Greek and Latin and he explained to me that when the Jews and Greeks referred to the word “heart” in their writings they had a slightly different meaning to how we interpret the heart today. The heart is actually “the seat of decision”. So when the psalmist says Love God with all your Heart, it means that even the decision to love God is our choice. We associate the heart today with romantic love and with having a will of its own but the heart is much more than that. Yesterday I read a brilliant quote on Instagram- “Love is feeling from the heart.” Our heart is under our control, we have free will in our hearts to decide what we will choose.

You can understand, believe and hope for things with your head. That’s one level. However when you truly comprehend something from the heart, desire it from the heart, vibrate it through the heart…it’s a whole other ball game! What I also know for sure is the heart is untamed, truth-filled and pure and creates all the magic. Get to know yourself through your heart and everything else will be taken care of.

This is not about a quest for spirituality or for that clichéd “inner peace” of a yogi sitting on a mountain top, zoned out, or plugged in to Nirvana. No! This is about AUTHENTICITY. Being authentically who you are.

Coming back to Elizabeth Gilbert’s discourse and its validation of self as a spiritual person, I welcome it but I also question it. I fear it may create yet another “definition” on what it means to be “spiritual”. I have no problem with EG, but sometimes I wonder about the commercialization of self-care and whether she is just a really good poster girl for the product. Some women aren’t like EG, I’m not but that doesn’t make me any less or more hip spiritually. Spirituality which I perceive as the active participation in self knowledge does not require popularity or validation.

Now for the real magic of authenticity!

I believe creativity is the door that leads to our true nature. I believe this because this Universe is a CREATIVE: it recognises creativity. Spirituality is the call to AUTHENTICITY, to our true nature and really our purpose. The vibration we are generating in this Universe, the thing we have to give, and that list is endless. You may think “I am clueless!” Well the only way to get clue filled is to begin loving yourself. Practising self-care will lead you and creativity will find you. Synchronicity will follow and the magic will appear, you’ll notice it and all the wonderful things the sages said will be realised in you and you will whisper “My goodness, it is true!”

That’s how good it is and you don’t need to be a yogi and meditate on a mountain all day.

Well-Being Wednesday: Allowing Forgiveness into The Heart

Standard

the-quality-of-mercy

This week my focus or intention has been paying attention. Focusing on what I call small wonders. In a week or so we will be returning to my birth-place, my homeland Trinidad where I will visit my mother who I haven’t seen since 2013. So it is a very important visit. Yesterday my mum spoke to me by phone and reported a conversation she had with one of my uncles. He is very ill and injured and cannot move about much. I suspect he is declining. He had called her and informed her that he knew that I was coming for a visit, and as it was so short he didn’t expect to see us, but he would be happy to chat by phone.

This man was a terror when I was growing up but also a charmer: well-dressed, handsome, and well-spoken, always with the best, enjoying life, eating and drinking at the best restaurants and fancy places. His wife was a beautiful young woman who was about fifteen years his junior. I was a young twenty year old and she may have been about ten years my senior. So she befriended me as we worked on the same street in Port-of-Spain. In the course of two years I witnessed her distress: as a young married woman full of romantic ideas, each one was dashed and trampled on by him. He was a philanderer and drunk, gambler and what else I do not know. Safe to say I despised him and would frequently in my hot-tempered youth give him a piece of my mind. In short he didn’t like me.

Mind you she stayed with him, had a daughter with him. He won the lottery! Yes, God’s rain is on the just and the unjust! They built a lovely home. His daughter now has their first grand-son. Shortly after he got cancer and then fell and hurt himself. He continues at times to be a terror even in his fallen state. He refused to attend my wedding some eleven years ago and hid from me once when I came to his house. What I had told my mother was that once I came home I really didn’t wish to see him. So I was surprised when she related me the conversation above.

Yet as the words floated from my mother’s lips over the phone, something else entered my heart simultaneously which I can only describe as a dollop of pure honeyed balm of forgiveness. I had a sense of his frailty and his mortality and the brevity of life. In that instant I knew that my actions had to move beyond his external shell and to acknowledge that within him resides immortality. I believe I was given the grace of respect at that moment, respect for all life, fallen or otherwise. So I told my mother I would visit him briefly and we would see how things were.

I did not expect to forgive him as I vowed never to entertain a man of that nature in my life. He was for me the personification of male abusive behaviour. It also dawned on me that this week my mind and heart have been resting upon the abuse of women: those girls abused by Boko Haram in Africa and the many women like my aunt who suffer abuse and choose abuse. I believe in justice being served for crimes committed and should be consciously pursued but mercy is beyond our volition.

Forgiveness can steal upon you with a feathery grace and I am reminded of Portia’s speech in Merchant of Venice:
“It blesseth him that gives and him that takes…”

Part of nurturing oneself is to allow forgiveness. Sometimes forgiveness is a hard, unyielding stone that sits upon the chest. You cannot shift it by force. It only dissolves in time and with awakening. It is not a mental exercise but an exercise of the heart.

*Task- Think of those you might need to forgive. Maybe you can’t, but let the feelings come anyway. Speak them, write them, scream them if you need to and then let it go. Forgiveness can be a process and may need the actions of another. Whatever it might be most of all forgive yourself and release judgement of yourself.

Well-Being Wednesday-Who Am I?

Standard

20150418_120328

Who Am I

.….. “You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.” Marianne Williamson quote from “Return to Love”

In the month of April I did a photography workshop with Susannah Conway and one of the prompts was Where Do You Live- many people naturally posted photos of their homes but one person took a photo of herself and my heart instantly exclaimed- Yes!

I live in this body, in the here and now and I believe my body is my home and my temple. I sometimes have special occasions when I pamper my body but each day I do at least one thing to say to my body I love you. So in loving myself I start with my body because my body tells me everything, it is my Bestie (BFF extra-ordinaire!)

This is a photo of me I have naturally curly hair but I love playing with my looks and I am very adventurous. I wasn’t always adventurous with my appearance. It was only when I crossed forty I just decided who says it has to be this way. I am a canvas. Play!

Like most women when I look at myself it is with a very critical eye. We are so indoctrinated, at a very early age, as women to judge and assess ourselves to please the OTHER; whoever that might be. The OTHER consummated in the person whom we are meant to attract and to eventually set up a life with. In the society I grew up in, on the tropical island of Trinidad, being physically beautiful which translates to being very, very slim and conforming to European standards of beauty was very ingrained, and probably still is. Even today I have very real problems with the love of beauty contests in my birth-land, but that’s another conversation.

Therefore as a teenager I never liked my legs and as result never wore shorts, and sadly in a hot tropical country! Now I look at my legs and think they are bloody fine legs- why did I put myself through that! As a young girl grappling with my attractiveness I asked my father “What do you consider the most attractive feature in a woman?” Well to this day the more I ponder his answer the more I realise how profound it is (maybe he was also being a little bit cunning as well, my Dad was like that!). “A woman’s forehead.” He answered, “ because it houses her brain, and tells you her intelligence, never hide your forehead!” Well that set me up for life didn’t it! (LOL)

Selfies are the most difficult aren’t they because we are taking that snap-shot of judgement in our eyes. I sometimes fear the camera for that reason. Photographs where I am not aware the camera is on me are so much more beautiful in my eyes, and when I look back at past photos I say wow I am pretty hot! This is a work in progress, learning to relax and love my photos.

It has taken me a very long time to begin to embrace my physical self as beautiful, truly beautiful! Today when I look at myself in the mirror I say “You are gorgeous! What a fine piece of work you are! Perfectly made in every way!” Now there are things I don’t like but that’s okay too. For example I don’t like my chin but hey I can work on that, and if I don’t it really doesn’t matter. Interestingly I have a husband who is attracted to me even when I am in thermal underwear! Lucky me! So if you are single my advice to you is look for a companion who NEVER criticizes your physical appearance EVER.

As I get older my concern has moved from my outer body to my inner body. How is my heart beautiful? How are my inner organs being honoured? My skin that clothes my blood and bones how am I loving that? When I am tempted to put one more piece of food in my mouth that I don’t need how is that abuse of my organs? Well those are good question and for me in the last year a real adoration for my inner body and all that it does in service to me is of primary importance.

Where Do I live?

In my passions!

I am passionate about learning and growing. Not just pedagogic learning of facts and theories, but a deeper knowing that is experience, emotionally intelligence and philosophy. By all means know things but that paradigm is not superior to others. More and more through the study of psychology and science we are learning that the brain that wonderful organ (my Dad again) has facets far beyond cognition. We also know that cognition is far more complex than we had thought or imagined. I am passionate about self-development and the development of others through connection. I love teaching and imparting knowledge and I love discovering who I am in this life, in this form.

I am passionate about solitude and quiet. I also love my friends and companionship but I value my “scared alone” (Joseph Campbell) time. I love good conversation and caring nurturing people around me. I love sobremesa –the dinner table and dinner chat. I love gatherings that heal my soul. I am passionate about my husband whom I know is my soul-mate.

I am passionate about reading and writing and all things literature and philosophical. I love, love, love the construction of a novel and the art and tradition of writing in English my spoken language and in all cultures.

I am passionate about beauty and all that is beauty in this world both natural and man-made- design, art, logic, meaning, awesomeness, discovery, realization, connection and universality. In a personality test I did some time ago (I’m not a stickler to them…but when someone says something nice to you, you listen!) I was told my highest function is the appreciation and recognition of beauty. High praise indeed!

I am passionate about cooking, growing things, teaching, silence, gardening, animals, helping people, consciousness.
I love, love, love the wisdom of water and being near to water….

Who are You?
Where Do You live?
What are Your Passions?

* Journal TASK: The repetitive refrain is a good prompt for writing because it frees the mind so that the thoughts can flow…

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about….

I love….

NURTURING MYSELF IS TRULY A MIRACLE

Nurturing Being

You can follow my Pinterest Board/Nurture here: click above

First Draft

You can follow all my work here on Pinterest/Dream Big

Nurturing Our Inner World

Standard

 

“The truth is suffering exists and that’s really part of our condition, all of us. It is also our history/legacy with each other. Maybe we -those who feel better off, lucky/blest can help in some way monetary, prayerfully and by physically doing something for someone. I also think I can do a lot by getting centred in myself, finding peace within myself and with my own personal relationships. So instead of chasing after solutions and making grand gestures, for some reason I desire to turn inwards and love myself.”

Have  a look here….

https://mustardseed07.wordpress.com/2015/04/30/well-being-wednesday-nurturing-our-inner-world/

 

Well-Being Wednesday- From Where I Stand…

Standard

IMG_20150408_172351

Today I stand between two worlds, one where I just spent my holiday and the other, barefooted and grounded in my own home. I had a memorable holiday having travelled to Marrakech in Morocco over the Easter. Now I am really contented to be at home, with part of me reflecting on my experiences whilst another part is becoming rooted in my present space.

One of my projects has been about nurturing my prayer-time and getting in touch with being alone, particularly during that sacred time with myself. One of my first observations was that being alone and being lonely are two different states of being. The first can be extremely fruitful and fulfilling, whist the latter can be crushing.

Whilst in Marrakech I was moved many times by the animals I saw working there. Poverty is a part of daily life and humans and animals work unflinchingly and there is little sentimentality involved in their interactions. In particular I was drawn to the donkeys that operate as beast of burden dashing through the narrow streets of the Medina, and the horses, many in pairs ferrying tourists around on gaudily dressed wagons. These horses work tirelessly all day and night and I cannot imagine what it is like in summer, when temperatures rise to over 50 degrees.

20150403_151545

I do not judge these people as their lives are very hard and the animals are a necessity to their livelihood. However I did shed a tear for them and could not help but be moved as on leaving, I saw two horses saddled together under a street-lamp, at 4 a.m., barely able to stand. I wondered had they been allowed to rest, their harnesses removed. As they leaned against each other I was reminded of one of the Buddha’s stories- He was once an ox in another life, made to pull a wheel with another in the domain of Hell. Once in a moment of compassion he felt the suffering of his partner and took on her burden. On seeing this the demon of Hell was angered and struck him dead upon the head with his trident.

At the time I could not understand why these animals pierced my heart so deeply but today as I contemplated in my journal what scared me about being alone I realised it was of course loneliness, and those animals were the loneliest in the world.

Why LONELINESS Scares ME:

Loneliness is a dismal burden
It is not being seen, no one to witness your pain,
The ultimate rejection, that something isn’t right with You.
Loneliness is the dullness of a never-ending day,
of cloud-filled skies, the clattering iron hooves of one-hundred horses,
upon stony ground.
They ride unrelentingly, day after day, dragging and carrying
until they are wasted to nothing, with no one to witness their suffering.

Loneliness is a cage so foul that the black-bird’s cry cannot pierce its thick walls.
Loneliness is no one to wipe a tear, to smooth your hair, to caress your cheek.
Loneliness is the smell of shit and stink and the arrival of old age, with no hands to hold your own.

Loneliness is death looming at the door, and beyond a desolate terrain

where nothing grows and dust swirls instead of stars.

Loneliness is never being seen, never being understood, outside the fires of love and kindness.

As a writer most of the time I am alone, so I need it but I also war with it. Feeling alone when in the company of others is a crushing loneliness,  for example with someone, in a group or with your family. Being alone in a crowd such as at a wedding or party can also be the most painful of them all.

However being alone that is sacredly alone is the most thrilling experience one can have. There are many incidents in life best done/ must be done alone: being born (unless you are twins/ triplets, or…) bathing (most times), reading, writing in a journal, creating art, listening to birdsong, eating (the ACT of eating-most times), toilet, making a decision, prayer, meditation, some forms of working, some forms of exercise…there may be more.

Being alone in your sacred space can be a place of sanctuary; time spent the way we want to spend it. It is a thrifty dollar of time which I call solitude. Solitude is an engagement with creativity; freedom to explore that which is personal and private. Sacredly alone for me is writing times and journal time, because as writers we see so much in the company of others that we need time to process it all. Silence requires solitude, time spent with trees and beings without ego. In this way we hear truth and love can whisper to us in mysterious sentences that contain personal messages just for us.

Nurturing myself with solitude and a sacred space both within and without is a way of surrendering to that which needs to be seen by my Divine Self. Even the Universe desires to be seen, acknowledged and viewed. So I whispered to those horses: I see you, I see your pain.

NURTURING MYSELF IS A MIRACLE

54e00263fa608e4bd58c6f54f77d0b3a

Check out my Pinterest Board here…

Day6 -The Rise of the Rant I

Standard

Image

Rise of the Rant

Today I saw on my feed a woman post a photo of Danes supposedly killing dolphins, and screeching about barbarism and civility! This same woman, not a few days ago, had posted a photo of a black man naked with an incredibly, and I mean incredibly huge dick, and was having a jolly time laughing about it with her friends. A bit like people in glass houses huh? Incredulous.

Civility and barbarity, both strong words: so I asked myself what is more barbaric the portrayal of black people in very compromising situations (sexually explicit photos, semi naked having babies, starving and naked, raped and naked, all from places where black people are poor) on Shared posters on Facebook or battering dolphins?  Some of these photos are deliberately making fun of sexuality, race or culture, whilst others are masking as “bringing attention” to global issues. Tell me what woman wants a camera up her vagina whilst having a baby and then broadcasting it up on Facebook? I could answer my own question, but not many women would I’m sure.

There are two issues here. One is where do we draw the line on what is acceptable and not acceptable to us on a public forum like Facebook.  I recall that The Final Solution actually began with humourous cartoons about Jews in the newspapers in Germany. You see ridicule desensities us, it pushes the boundaries of good sense further and further away from the object being ridiculed. By the time Hitler proposed the Final Solution most German viewed Jews as vermin, because that’s how the cartoon and caricatures in the newspapers portrayed them. When you laugh at nudity you are laughing at the human form, your form. It is as personal as that. And when we lose respect for our humanity, where is the civility of that.

Rise of the Rant II tomorrow.

Day 5- The Power of the LIKE Button on Facebook

Standard

Facebook-like-button

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/14/the-problem-with-facebook_n_4597710.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009

Day 5

The Power of the Like Button

This very interesting video is circulating around Facebook, and basically it is informing us that our news feeds are thinning out due to the fact that friends are not using the LIKE button on our posts. So the more your post or photos are LIKED, the longer they will be visible on the feed.  Conversely if no one likes your stuff, it will disappear. The other issue is the selective nature of the feed, whereby the less your stuff is LIKED, the less likely you are to show up on your friend’s feeds. (Pardon the pun)

However the LIKE button has much more power than just access to the feed. The like button suggests credibility on Facebook; if your stuff is liked, then you EXIST. I find this one of the most disturbing things about Facebook. When people’s stuff isn’t like, generally they fade away and stop posting altogether, which is a shame. There are those with very thick skins who carrying on and may even increase their posting speed and content. Good for them I say!

Using the LIKE button to put people in their place: I didn’t like your comment, re-phrase, exercise power over them, and cause isolation is just supporting those reasons behind why Zuckerberg created Facebook in the first place: Rejection!

You don’t have to like everything your friends’ post, but make it a habit to use your LIKE button with kindness. By that same token I guess if Facebook friends are not liking your posts, there is no need for you to return the favour. In that case just post to show you are here, present and VISIBLE. Keep enjoying Facebook!