You may be wondering what this blog is all about. Do I really have an ashram? It’s called a ‘spiritual field guide’ – where are you going? The answers, in order, are: No, but maybe? And, I don’t know. This blog is the outer face of a personal project I’ll be starting on 21 June, 2011. My goals are to see just what my own ashram might look like, to explore the spiritual traditions that have informed me thus far in my life, and to see what my internal and personal spiritual shape looks like this time next year.
Earlier this year I gave birth to my second child. I was blindsided by just how much more difficult it is to parent two kids, rather than just one. In addition to parenting I am also a PhD student in theology. I’m supposed to be reading and writing for my dissertation. I thought surely I would be able to do some work – after all a new baby mostly just eats and sleeps. However, I had forgotten to factor in that first child, or take into consideration that just as having my first child changed me in ways I had not expected, my second child might do the same. I find I am currently uninterested in my academic topic (feminist Virgin Mary stuff and co/redemption). However, I want to continue to use the skills and knowledge I’ve gained over the years, as well as get more involved in what I see as a burgeoning and maturing online community of seekers and minority religious/spiritual practitioners. At the same time, I miss my daily spiritual practice. How do I weave this all together?
For the last two months I’ve been working with Karina B Heart, a spiritual teacher and life coach, to help me get back on track, in hope that outside feedback might provide some clarity that is often hard to find when I’m neck deep in laundry and children. During one of our calls I said that I missed the quiet and flexibility that the child-free life provided for my old spiritual practice. I can’t just run off to a yoga retreat or an ashram or a convent now. ‘Well,’ Karina said, ‘what would your own ashram look like?’ A simple question that hit me like a ton of bricks. What would my own ashram look like?
So that’s what I’m going to find out. Inspired by Andrew Bowen at Project Conversion, a man who is diving into twelve major religions, one for each month of the year, in order to promote religious tolerance, I decided to do something similar. I am going to take the traditions that have informed my spiritual views and practices and dive into them for the next 12 months, 3 months each.
First up, yoga. Before the birth of my first child three years ago I was doing 60-90 minutes of yoga and meditation every morning. At 7 months pregnant I went on a yoga retreat. I’ve even contemplated getting certified as a yoga instructor. I love yoga. Now, that’s mostly hatha yoga I’m talking about, the physical branch of yoga that people recognize from their gym or studio or workout videos. But there’s so much more to yoga. I’ve slowly been getting to know the tantric, ecstatic branches of yoga, which also leads me to the colorful and vibrant Hindu tradition. So that’s what I’m going to start with: tantric Hinduism. I’m going to live like I’m a Hindu yogini for the next three months. What does this look like? What will this mean for my daily life? For my family? I don’t know, and I hope you’ll come along with me and find out as it unfolds.
From Christmas through the end of March I’ll be back living as a Christian. For 20 years I identified more or less as a Christian. For eight of those years I worshiped with the Orthodox Chrurch (when I did actually go to church). What will it be like to go back to a tradition I thought I had made my peace with by saying goodbye? Will I make it through Lent? I don’t know, but we’ll find out.
From right around Easter until this time next year I’ll be exploring Place. I grew up in South East Alaska and the people there are fiercely in love with their land. Juneau, Alaska, and it’s environs are still the home of my heart. A sense of place is something I’ve taken with me wherever I’ve lived. Right now I live in rural Wales, a truly beautiful, magical place, rich in mythology and history, with a strong identity of its own. What will I learn about this place?
My goals for this blog are: *to establish a place to track my growth, practice and insights *by writing publicly to keep myself accountable to the practice *and to contribute to the online community and discussion of like-minded seekers.
I hope you’ll join me on my journey.