Are you at the place where your self care is a non-negotiable staple in your day? Has it replaced disorder and confusion with clarity and ease? Are you meeting your goals and feeling more grounded and energized, yet… find that something is not quite right?
Perhaps this something, is nameless, hard to put your finger on, like a mist hanging in the air of the backdrop of your life, ever present in everything you do. Perhaps, not all the exercise, wholesome meals, green drinks, massages, completed to do lists, tea before bed, time in stillness and journaling goals and gratitude’s seem to erase it?
Self care can maintain a certain level of refuge and escape from the dizzying pace of modern life yet for some people, there unexpectedly arises a more substantial, underlying, harder to satisfy…. hunger, desire, thirst.
On the outside everything may seem fine, perhaps even on the inside you’re not as stressed as before, you’re more clear thinking and you have everything you need and could possibly want to be great, but… you’re not.
For those of you that have been on the path to intentional living for some time and are experiencing this hunger, this post is for you. Today I will share my journey on this topic and what has quenched my thirst for the past 8 years.
End of This Series on the Feminine
For those of you just stopping by, this post is the last in a series on the theme of the feminine and before we go further here is a recap of the last 4 in this series.
I first began this theme by sharing a post on what femininity and masculinity mean to me, why this world is starving for more femininity and ideas to increase it in our lives by reaching out to the women around us. I then shared a post on a common struggle among women, of finding it hard to create and maintain self care routines. I offered the distinct perspective that it’s not about them but instead about the contribution they BECOME to their corner of the world, after having regularly and deeply refueled themselves. The third was a post on how exploring our own childhood experiences of being mothered helps us to break out of self sabotaging patterns and the most recent was on experiencing a deeper femininity by listening to poetry. Without further ado, now let’s dive in!
Grounded in Peace
A thread throughout this blog is that of the importance of finding that which deeply nourishes our body heart and mind. The more chaotic life becomes, even when it’s in the midst of big happy changes, the more important I have found this to be. When we have found a way to refuel our resilience, independent of our life circumstances (who we love, who loves us, how your home is, what our banks balance is etc.), it keeps us grounded with a cool head and a warm heart through all ups and downs.
Faces of the Same Diamond
I personally believe there are as many ways to come upon this more essential nourishment as there are people. I also have come to believe that when a person has found their way, there are outward signs that are the same even if the ways are different.
When I read poems from Rumi, the core teachings of Buddha, Krishna and Christ, there are messages in all of them that point in the same direction. Their all upholding the virtues of human life that make our existence meaningful.
Allah Spoke Through Their Example
I have met devoted Muslim friends that have touched me with their humanity, hospitality and strength of character. More importantly they demonstrated what they believed in, in the times I witnessed them being kind when they really didn’t have to be, when we broke bread together at their kitchen table or when they offered me their prayer rug on which to pray my own prayers.
Jesus Spoke Through Her Example
The same has happened in my friendship with a devoted Christian friend who in conversations about beliefs shared her faith in Jesus as a messenger of love and mercy, I couldn’t help but nod in recognition, not because I was Christian but because of what she had shown me long before that conversation. I had experienced her conviction in love when I witnessed her getting out of her comfort zone to lend a compassionate hand to a total stranger. She proclaimed her faith and values the loudest when I watched her encourage a friend in hard times, when she could have justifiably slipped in an “I told you so”.
The humanity I witnessed and experienced from these friends and others like them, conveyed much more than any lengthy creed. These experiences shaped my belief that there is a source of all things good, true and benevolent and that our relationship to that source is the most important endeavor one can pursue.
No Longer Going Wide, But Deep
As much as I enjoyed the beautiful company of these friends and learning about their paths of devotion, their chosen faiths didn’t call to me or tug at my heart. What it did do, is fuel my inner resolve and readiness to stop going wide and start going deep.
What does that mean? That the fascination of exploring “the variety of ways” was losing it’s shine and I ached to commit to a path and give it my all, as I witnessed these friends do, earnestly. I realized that no matter which way I chose, when I finally did make that commitment to put forth the effort to make it a daily part of my life and live the principles, I would in time have that relationship that my friends had given me a glimpse of and finally quench that nameless thirst.
The Global Hunger
This thirst I speak of is one I believe is being felt worldwide and growing every day. Our history as a human race and the climactic world events happening today I think, have been fanning it’s flames. As Maslow’s pyramid explains, when the basic needs of survival are met, we seek higher levels of expression and fulfillment. We as a nation have improved ourselves up to our eyebrows and our excessive consumption of convenience-living goods has led us to the ceiling of their satisfaction.
There is only so much pleasure to be had in acquiring the best quality, prettiest, fastest, sleekest thing. There is also a limit to how good we can feel in caring for our bodies and sharpening our minds until we reach the next threshold…our heart.
Over 8 years ago I found my way. It has been and continues to be for me a constant source of renewal, strength and most of all, clarity. No matter how many shiny things or people enter my life, through trials, tribulations and loss, it remains the only place I continue to find everything, the ever changing world cannot give me.
I share this with you in the context of this theme on the feminine because this way has provided for me, the most endearing, life affirming and regular experiences of the the feminine or what I prefer to call, the mother, of my entire life.
For those of you that have your spiritual path well defined in your life and have experienced deeper wells of nourishment through it, I celebrate you! The world needs as many people connecting to their source of light, love and strength as possible. I also invite you to share in the comment box what has been that experience for you .
For those of you still exploring, I offer what has been my source. I repeat the word offer, because it needs that emphasis. My aim is not to proselytize but simply to share what is undeniably a part of my story, with the intent that it may be of use.
My “way” consists of reciting what is for me a very long poem by classical poetry standards. I am not an expert, scholar or anthropologist. I have no Phd in ancient scriptures, because this poem is very ancient and although this poem speaks of exquisitely sublime and splendid things it also, quite frankly, refers to things beyond my understanding. I committed to reciting this poem every day not because I understood it intellectually, but because of the feelings of tenderness and strength sparked in me upon coming across it’s verses.
Tip of the Iceberg
If you look it up in Wikipedia you will read it’s facts, one of them namely, its origins that are from the encyclopedic manuscripts called The Brahmanda Purana, from 4th century CE India, consisting of over 65 chapters and 4,500 verses. In this context my “little poem” is but a scratch in the colossal body of ancient knowledge from which it is from and that scratch alone has had my cup runneth over innumerable times.
The poem consists of 1000 verses of descriptions of the divine feminine in the ancient Sanskrit language. It is named the Lalita Sahasranama
I will share with you just a few of my favorite translated verses as best I can. All verses begin with “Salutations to…” for the purpose of space I will omit that part and share the rest of the verses.
Salutations to her…
who is mother of all
that has the radiance of a thousand rising suns
that dispels fear
that destroys delusion
that is the sunbeam that dispels darkness from the heart
that is fortitude
that is intelligence
that is highly skilled
whose form is graceful
that is victorious
that is indestructible
that is wedded to truth
that upholds righteousness
that leads to righteousness
that is playful
that is Goddess of discriminating wisdom and spiritual illumination
that puts an end to wicked ways
that is chaste
that puts an end to sorrow
that is ever compassionate
that is witness to everything
that is effulgence
that dwells in the heart
that is the love of women
that bestows delight
whom is the essence of love
that enjoys poetry
that is earth
that is eternally joyful
that is eternal
that is unconditional grace
that can be understood by all, even a child
that is wisdom
that is realization of the absolute
that generates the arts
that is the guardian of sacred traditions
that dispels ignorance….
I have shared just a few of the verses that sing to me and there are plenty that, as I have mentioned, I don’t understand. Take for example a verse about her abiding in a forest of Kadamba trees or, verses on her relationship to Shiva, the masculine expression of creation, not to mention a section on a massive galactic battle of sorts, between the forces of light and darkness in which her weaponry, her army, the names of beings on both sides and the fatalities are outlined.
Rubber Meets The Road
What I do know is that starting my day first thing, by reciting these verses has fundamentally changed me. The experiences I’ve been graced with during this practice cannot be described. I have painstakingly struggled to put into words the vast richness of endearing embrace I have experienced in this old post and still it pales in comparison to the experience.
I have searched for literature on people who have experienced the divine feminine and came across this gorgeous piece by a female saint named Saint Hildegard. In reading it, I felt I made contact with a kindred spirit.
“She is so bright and glorious that you cannot look at her face or her garments for the splendor with which she shines. For she is terrible with the terror of the avenging lightning, and gentle with the goodness of the bright sun; and both her terror and her gentleness are incomprehensible to humans…. But she is with everyone and in everyone, and so beautiful is her secret that no person can know the sweetness with which she sustains people, and spares them in inscrutable mercy.”
Here is a quote by another sister in spirit from a book I ravenously devoured called “Untie the Strong Woman: Blessed Mother’s Immaculate Love for the Wild Soul”
“There is a promise Holy Mother makes to us, that any soul needing comfort, vision, guidance or strength, can cry out to her, flee to her protection, and Blessed Mother will immediately arrive with veils flying. She will place us under her mantle for refuge, and give us the warmth of her most compassionate touch, and strong guidance about how to go by the soul’s lights.”
Her book touches that verve of universal sisterhood and it’s an especially healing and alchemizing experience to listen to it narrated by her soothing voice here.
For those of you interested in learning more about the Lalita Sahasranama, there are various books out there of the text that include commentary on the verses. My favorite thus far is this one by Swami Tapasyananda. The commentary in this one by Dr. M.N. Namboodiri is also a good one and can be read online here
What is your source of experiencing the divine?
I’d love to hear your story!
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Thank you for stopping by!