You have probably heard that the work you do on the yoga mat is a metaphor for how you interact in the wider world. On the mat, you have the opportunity to remain present as your highest self, in non-judgemental perception, of your body, mind, and spirit. You become more keenly aware of your breath and its central importance to your multi-layered existence. The ability to breathe and flow through challenging postures gives you a renewed sense of your ability to meet life’s ups and downs with greater ease through loving detachment in action. Ultimately the illusion of separation between you and other beings becomes fuzzier and fuzzier as you begin to relate through universal connections.
This is a particular perspective of the holistic experience of yoga in quite an incomplete nutshell, but it has value.
Often we submerge ourselves in the busyness of our thoughts, grasping for meaning by holding onto words, images, or ideas that rush through us often fed by common perceptions in popular culture. The practices of yoga and meditation, as part of a whole gamut of consciousness-expanding techniques, allow us to let go of this grasping and simply notice the stream – most of it untrue and frequently negative in nature. It is a great relief to allow this dross to pass unheeded, allowing space for revelations to burble up from the clear stream of a much deeper, sweeter, more nourishing source.
Recently I felt like a solitary Kali. Too complex to elucidate fully here, she is partially known as a great, protective mother capable of clearing any path and sometimes seen as a destructive force. While working on healing and releasing some karma that presented itself in my past, I became conflicted about the way in which I chose to work through it with creative expression. The Wiccan tenet “An it harm none do what ye will” rings through me often and I embrace it wholeheartedly. Sometimes; however, I see that it’s not as simple as it sounds.
I was driving through town one day while sussing out how to do what I felt I needed to do - and feeling rather responsible for how it created pain in another – when a restaurant that had burned to the ground came into view. It had once been a large, but feeble shack on the water’s edge with a loyal clientele in this small town. It was worn out and drafty and probably went down like an old pinecone when it caught flame. The whole staff, from chefs to servers, temporarily moved the operation to a golf-course restaurant while the former establishment was being rebuilt. Driving by, I saw the strong bones of the skeletal structure with great openings for windows to take in the grandeur of the view. It was, no doubt, a phoenix rising from the ashes to become something much stronger, better, and more beautiful than it was before.
I keep this in mind when I reflect back on my solitary Kali moment – it was a time when I ached for a spiritual mentor, someone to tell me everything would be all right. In time, green shoots would emerge from the scorched earth of this relationship airing its conflict. I longed for a shamanistic ritual, linking the goddess to community, but we can’t easily find that in mainstream Western culture. There is little opportunity for ceremonial healing that raises the energy of all involved to engender the compassion and love that helps bring about forgiveness and wholeness. There are few models for those of us who “see” what is not typically seen in the West: energy and spiritual guidance with great healing power.
Peace activist and founder of Opening to Possibilities, Jessica Dancingheart, introduced me to restorative justice circles during a weekend workshop on non-violent communication led by Shantigarbha Warren. Passed down through the Native American tradition, I understand restorative justice to be a way of healing and reintegrating community in lieu of punishing and ostracizing others. I don’t advocate this approach for all circumstances, but, in many situations, people harm because they are in pain themselves. If one can heal at the deepest level then it is for the benefit of the whole community. The model I see most readily available in modern America is the family meeting. So often fraught with further injustice, this family meeting model is typically headed by the father figure with each subsequent family member further down the rungs of power with age and gender. Great care can be taken, I believe, to make certain it is a gathering free of hierarchy where each participant is given equal time to speak or share and the steps toward healing are agreed upon by all.
In the meantime, I exist on the outskirts of this ideal, still searching for the goddess influenced shamanic healing ritual that can be applied to this day and age. Next year, I plan to study the Grandmothers Healing Haka, developed by Ojasvin Kingi Davis and his grandmother. Davis is a Maori descendant from the people of Ngaitupoto, Ngatihine, Ngapuhi of Aotearoa, New Zealand. The key to the healing energy of this haka is the notion that “we are part of the greater whole, we are one human race awakening to our connection to a larger human organism coming together to see that we individually and collectively are immense and potent beings.”
The dance of the Grandmothers Healing Haka demonstrates the strength we gain from both earth (feminine) and sky (masculine) energies as we stomp and dance with feet that connect strongly with the ground, raising the vibrations in our hara center and throughout our bodies. Done alone or in a group, this Haka is a sacred method to bring healing to oneself, the community, and the planet. I plan to offer local workshops when I return.
We are in a period in history of great awakening. This is a growing movement of individuals interested in healing, whether it be immediate or karmic, by various means across the globe. My approach is eclectic – intuition, transformative language arts, yoga, mediation and visualization, Reiki, Integrated Energy Therapy, whole foods growing and cooking, expressive dance, and soon the Grandmothers Healing Haka. Awareness is the fulcrum upon which all effective modalities rest. And my understanding of my own responsibility, like everything in life, is ever evolving, clearing away the obfuscations of the reality of all-that-is.