Sunday, March 11, 2007

Monastic City Life

As the Spring Equinox approaches, I have been preoccupied with trying to maintain a balance between being a deeply spiritual person who values long periods of solitude, and who often seeks that solitude by retreating from the constant, bustling activity of the outer world, with that of the part of me that exists as an extremely social being, who loves to network and be part of a community. It is a continuous act of going within and remaining in tune with my psyche and spirit and allowing my soul to dictate which part of me needs nurturing at any particular given moment. Usually I can gauge by the seasons which part of me is going to take over. For example; During the winter months, like many other people, I find myself spending more time indoors, and will often spend my weekends curled up under a huge duvet with a good book, or watching a movie with friends and family, while cooking a big pot of soup. During the Spring and summer months, I am out and about attending outdoor concerts, festivals, eating at outdoor cafes with friends and spending as much time as possible soaking up the intense heat of the Vitamin D filled rays of the sun, that my melanin rich, African skin so sorrowfully and sorely misses during the cold weather months.
Those of us whose existence is based closer to and more in alignment with the spiritual side of living, know that the urge, or inner prompting that we receive that tells us to retreat from the outer world can pop up at anytime during the year. If you are like me, you know that not following the prompting of your soul can lead to trouble in the form of illness, sudden mishaps, accidents or whatever is needed to get you to pay attention. Surrendering to Spirit is never an easy task, especially because we live in a culture where everything is action oriented and you are constantly being judged, and your existence is continuously being scrutinized using criteria that is solely action based-- In other words, by what you are actively doing and what you produce materially. There is very little value placed on the care and the feeding of one's soul. Those of us whose values run counter to that of our society, know that unless we retreat for a few days, weeks or even months to meditate, fast, pray, detox, or whatever it is you are called to do, is that we will not really be able to serve humanity or live our lives in alignment with our true nature or our life's purpose. I have always valued my moments of solitude, as well as periods of deep reflection. I see it not only as a service to my own spirit, but also as proper preparation for those who I came to serve. What good am I if I am out and about in the world, seeking to help others, if I myself have not taken the time to do the necessary self- healing and self-examination that it takes for me to stay spiritually focused and on point? It is challenging though, because we do not live in a society that seeks to incorporate spiritual life with secular living. So those of us who walk this path have to come up with ways of honoring that part of ourselves that is crucial to our mental, emotional as well as our physiological well-being. Try fasting when you are in charge of events and have to hire caterers as well as choose the food that will be served at the event, and then have to hob-nob with folks who are all eating the delectable food that you yourself picked out. Or stopping to pray during a certain time of day while buses, trucks and sirens create a frenzy around you. It ain’t easy folks. One of my favorite authors, Caroline Myss, calls it being a mystic without a monastery. I call it the challenge of being a spirit living in a modern and very material world.


Sharon said...

Hey Aisha,

I loved this piece! It is poignant, thought-provoking, inspirational and, of course, very well-written. Thank you for sharing your gifts, Aisha. I also love the excerpt from "The Thunder: Perfect Mind." Sheer perfection.

Peace and Love and Joy...Sharon

Dionne said...

Your beautiful prose reflect a spirit that has been nurtured and given a voice. We are often at a loss as to what is going on with ourselves and look to others who have much less knowledge of us than we do, to find answers.

Can it be that our frantic, often dissatified feelings and disconnection is becuase we are not in touch with our own personal seasons.

We are not the same even throughout the same day, far less every day of the year. Only a person who has taken time out to listen to the universe inside of them would know this truth.

I have witnessed people come under attack for doing just what you are doing, (smile) but the proof as they say is in the pudding.

Balance, peace, joy, strength and energy are at your disposal, are part of your wardrobe that the world around you cannot ignore. Your light is so bright, I can see you from where I am.

This is attainable and worth any and all efforts for the dividens are great.

Anyone thinking of getting "in tune" must be aware that while this pursuit is worthwhile, it will not garner, praise or acceptance from those around you. If you need others to tell you it is okay to do something for yourself before you do anything, this is not going to work for you!

This is again, a lesson in self love. These actions take patience, desire to grow, creativity and a willingness to ignore the "others" and "distractions" in favor of falling into and getting better aquainted with ones self.

Turn off you phones, turn off the television, and computer, find a quiet place and close the door to the outside so you can listen to the noise and the rhythms inside of yourself.

Build your monestary in your urban jungle. It all begins and ends with you. Choose yourself.

winsom said...

Aisha, I enjoyed this article, and it is so true. Most times it is very hard to live the life you want, when you are not surrounded with like minded folks.I found the perfect way for in a place that's hard to access easily and when I want to be around the general population, I put the bridge back.
Thanks and Blessings.