All posts filed under: Earlier Posts

Home as Sacred Space: Why and How to Do It

Homes are important. Even if you feel that you spend most of your time at work or school, home is the place where we should be able to wind down and be ourselves. It is where we eat, sleep, and love. Home is where we experience our emotions and thoughts away from the public eye. However, it is easy to take this miniature landscape for granted – using it as a waiting place before going on to the next thing. Or perhaps home is an overwhelming space, full of anxiety, quarrels, or coldness? There is a way to transform that space into your own sacred ground, even if that space includes only your personal area. What I suggest below does not speak to interpersonal relationships, how to communicate with your family or housemates, or even how to decorate your space. Rather, these are practical and simple measures that will set a foundation – an environment, actually – to cultivate peace. It is not my intention to give “rules” of housekeeping. Creating a sacred space does …

How to Find Ease and Transform Your Life Through Letting Go

The mornings are always cold, but my body eventually emerges from the cradle of blankets. In the darkness, I quiet the alarm and stumble into the bathroom. The warm wall lights strike against any remaining intention to crawl back to bed next to my husband who dreams, deeply. I remind myself that this is what I love to do, and within moments I feel by body waking to an inner joy that only comes when something real is about to happen. I slip into a sweatshirt, brush my teeth, pull hair away from my eyes, and walk to the corner of the house that became my personal sanctuary. It is so simple, I think to myself. This is it. Recently, I experienced a transformation in my meditation practice and I want to share it with you. I aspired to write about it for so long but did not have the words to fully convey it. Before I dive into some of the key insights that emerged to the surface, I must tell you that the …

A Reading List for Those Perplexed by Black Activism

Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash Why is it a big deal that two black men were removed by force from a Starbuck’s in Philadelphia? Perhaps you listened to the news reports and thought, “Why are the protestors so angry?” Perhaps you consider yourself to be an open-minded, progressive thinker about race. Perhaps, even, you claim to “see no color” when interacting with people you meet. It is not my intention to argue about the reality of these assertions. I do not wish to dive into paragraph after paragraph covering all the details of recent race relations in the United States. Instead, I want to provide a list of further reading – authors and scholars that describe the history of forceful removal of black men and women from public spaces, from the black American perspective. Numerous thinkers and authors beautifully – and sometimes painfully – hash out the long history of complicated human relationships, and the space (or no space) that black Americans held and hold today. The books are in forms of nonfiction …

Deep Rest

Photo by Olesya Grichina on Unsplash Finding space to rest is an essential part of our wellbeing. In modern life there are many things beckoning for our attention that distract from this basic need, so much that a considerable number of adults do not get a full night’s sleep. Yet, real rest goes beyond counting the hours lying prone beneath the sheets and it is vital for finding balance and fulfilment. While many regard religion as inherently flawed, even baleful, spiritual thinkers encompassing all traditions are revered for relaying remarkable wisdom that guides us through the most basic questions in life. These teachers provide practical advice to us, threaded with the idea that there is something bigger that we can tap into, creating clarity and purpose. “Rest” is a noticeable theme in scores of mystical narratives and songs. It is this rest that brings fullness of strength – to connect with our family, engage our community, or simply be with our own emotions and thoughts. Reputed author of the Tao Te Ching, ancient Chinese philosopher …

Spiritual Parenting: The Gateway to Your Child’s Heart

Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash What does it mean to parent “spiritually?” Parenting on the spiritual plane exists whether we know it or not. If one chooses to ignore, or does not know of, this aspect of parenting, it does not mean spiritual parenting does not exist. It is not an “opt in” experience, but rather, is always there. The spiritual lives of our children exist in forms that are both evident and opaque to us. The first step is to recognize the reality of our child’s spiritual self, know that it is already in its full form. In other words, while we may take care of our child’s body and emotions – guiding her, feeding, clothing, protecting – her spiritual being is exactly like ours, in its full form. We are on the same level of spiritual existence. The child spirit is not half-formed. The adult spirit and the child spirit are the same. The only difference is the level of emotional weight a person takes on over years of living. Eckhart Tolle …

Advent and a Lesson in Waiting

Photo by Josh Boot on Unsplash The waiting is the hardest part. We never like to do it. Studies have been conducted that show people would rather self-inflect electric shock than endure a period of quiet waiting. A pause in the busy day is both deeply desired and feared because the actual act of waiting – what happens when we have an unplanned pause – feels like torture. It requires us to face the reality of what is, which is nearly never in our minds as wonderful as what we are waiting to come around the bend. Or, perhaps, it is the waiting on a terrible thing that makes the waiting so torturous. Our minds are consumed with thoughts of the Bad Thing to come. Specific inventions were created to distract us from waiting: mobile devices, the Internet, social media. However, one could argue that consumer culture itself exists as a method to avoid waiting. This is no more evident in American culture than during the holiday season when consumer habits are amplified. The irony …

Ease in the Difficulty: Finding Opportunity in Autumn’s Transition

Photo by Bruno Ramos Lara on Unsplash It finally feels like autumn in Pennsylvania. The wind is caressing the edges of our home, making the warmth inside seem like a cozy little pod in which to hunker down. Our flannels and chunky socks are out, the coffee pot is warm, and our noses are filled with spicy scents of our last meal. The fall is coming to me with messages of rest. For some reason, the weeks leading out of summer were hectic, strained, and defined by busyness – all of which I will readily give up. In order to combat the anxious spirits, I made a decision to wake up each morning at 5:45 A.M. (!!!) and settle deeply into a morning yoga and meditation practice. When this thought first flashed through my brain, I will admit that I (internally) shouted to my inner voice, “Are you kidding me? This will never work! I am not disciplined enough.” To my surprise, after a few weeks, I find myself eager to take the time to …

“Women, Food, and God” and Start of Real Transformation

Photo by Jairo Alzate on Unsplash Months and months ago I placed a compelling little book in my Amazon shopping cart. It caught my eye after purchasing Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés. I was on an empowerment book-buying kick. Yet, this other text sat on my shelf for a very long time before I had a window of opportunity to pry it open to see why I felt so drawn to it. Titled, Women, Food, and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything (Scribner, 2011), I found myself trying to conceptually connect the three subjects as I leafed through its pages. I thought to myself, “I am a woman. I like food. I am interested in God…” I simultaneously felt pulled into this text and repelled. “Repelled” because of an aversion to diets and anything that resembles a diet. (I hoped so much that it was not a “diet book.”) I thought, the way I think about (obsess over, mourn over, stress over) food dictates my life and I want …

The People’s Meditation, A Series: Ed On Running as Mindfulness

Photo by Jennifer Birdie Shawker on Unsplash When I first sought volunteers for this series, my friend Ed came to me about his experience of running as mindfulness practice. And I said, “Hey! That is perfect!” I am so glad he offered his thoughts to this series. While I practice yoga as my entry into mindfulness, I want to stress in this series that there are numerous ways for one to find a meditative center. As I shared in the previous entry of this series, the Radiance Sutras propose 112 different practices! There are many modes of entry into a meditative state. All of the world religions – at least the ones with which I am familiar – utilize meditation as a way to clear the proverbial mental, spiritual, and emotional (even physical) road in order to experience truth. Simply through their cultural difference, variety in meditation emerged. I  was thrilled when Ed said he wanted to talk about running! A lot of Americans might not realize that running is a wonderful entry point for …

Locating Truth in a Time of Darkness: Rilke’s “Let This Darkness Be a Bell Tower”

I have a lot of work to do before the start of the fall semester. I teach a new course this year: American art to Penn State juniors and seniors. I am thrilled at the opportunity, but I am also in deep contemplation this week as the nation discusses the relationship between patriotism, free speech, racism, and public images. It is the latter that is most on my mind as I prepare to spend the next four months talking with young adults about the meaning of images in American society. I argue images have incredible impact upon the way we function in our world. So, my thoughts are on images. Most of us were not in Charlottesville this weekend, but we are affected by what happened there in very deep ways. We see film footage and photographs on social media. We hear the arguments and calls for justice on the news. We make personal cries of despair in our own homes as our heart breaks – a festering national wound has opened once again. The …