Memory and Tradition on the Spiritual Quest

This is another of my posts from earlier blogs—This one from a year and a half ago, updated for inclusion here…

Honor Yesterday Without Hanging On

One of the first roadblocks you encounter as you embark on a serious Spiritual Path is the accumulated mental, emotional and physical baggage of your own past. There’s some nasty stuff lurking in that baggage, and Memory is the key that unlocks most of it. In the course of even the most seemingly benign life, huge amounts of emotional detritus, mental garbage, as well as physical angst and imbalance, are packed away to sneak up on you at the most inopportune times. Harboring the past can and does effect every aspect of life—it can keep you from happiness and contentment, cause mental or physical illness, and stop you from achieving your goals. So why do we hang on to these Memories? It is ingrained in us from birth. We get emotionally or intellectually involved in every minute detail of our life, and we don’t Let Go when the moment has passed. Instead, we judge others and ourselves, regret actions, feel guilt or try to impose it on those we think have “hurt” us. And hold on to it all till the bitter end.

It’s not just things we think of as bad or traumatic that we cling to either. Be it a feeling, a sensation or physical gratification, we seek not only to repeat the experience but to maintain it in memory. So, if ice cream is good occasionally…eat it every day. If that magical feeling of falling in love is your panacea…enter into a series of shallow and ultimately unfulfilling relationships to keep experiencing it. The list of things we do to feed our memory banks is endless. Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll! We are a race of sensation seekers.

Just as Memory is the minefield of Spiritual attainment, it can also serve as a valuable Tool. When a very powerful memory (you know the ones—complete with cinematic soundtrack and in Technicolor) arises to bring forth the set of negative or even positive emotions associated with it, the Seeker has the opportunity to look closely at it. It is important to discover what is at the roots of these strong feelings.When you do so, it is a chance to work all of the way through this emotional gestalt and to return the Energy you have tied up in this recall to the people, place and time it belongs in. Sounds simple! And yes, the principle is really that straightforward. It just isn’t always easy. However, if we Intend to progress on our Path, and to let go of the encumbrances of the past, it will occur.

Remember

While this process (I call it Clearing) may seem complete to you at some point, usually after a period of intense Self examination (I call it the roller coaster ride through Hell; it has also been likened to peeling the layers of an onion), it is really a lifelong commitment. We can get better and better at not clinging, but the very nature of material existence lets things get by us. 

Forget

Memories Without Anchors

You may wonder if I am saying dump all of your precious memories. Not at all. But if you undertake the process of Clearing the nature of Memory will change drastically. When the attached emotions and feelings are stripped away, the accumulated bits of your past do lose their vibrancy and film-like quality. They become more like paging through an album of still photos, flat and not imbued with lives of their own, but pleasant to visit once in a while and a shared foundation for interpersonal relationships. Also, these memories are potentially useful in healing work with those you share past associations with. What comes up often points out imbalances or conflicts that need to be addressed.  You may discover as well, that one or more persons who have shared what should be the same experiences, may remember them very differently, or not at all. Our continuity is a fragile thing. We do, whether we are aware or not, rewrite our history in subtle, or not so subtle ways, on an ongoing basis. 

Forgive

Tradition can be a way of maintaining continuity and connection with both the past and other people. However, it should be treated like our Memories, as something to be maintained only if and as long as it serves us. It should not be treated as a rigid or slavish adherence to forms that have lost meaning in our present situation, but as an organic Celebration of the important passages in life. I quite enjoy our traditional family celebrations. I am not a Christian, though my antecedents and some of my contemporaries were, and some still are, but I honor Christianity and many of its traditions and trappings. I love Christmas and Easter, and celebrate them with my less than traditional, in many cases, family. Our family traditions continue to change and evolve with time and circumstance though, and that is as it should be.

I think that when we begin treating Memory and Tradition like helium balloons—buoyant and ephemeral— rather than as anchors, trapping us in the thrall of the past, we begin to experience real freedom. We find ourselves greeting each moment and celebration as a new experience rather than as a chore or obligation.

Tradition

Wabi-Sabi

Reflecting on memory and tradition brought me back to another concept that I have been exploring just recently. It is the traditional Japanese aesthetic called Wabi-Sabi. I first encountered the concept while following up on some Trend forecasts. Being an Etsy online merchant and active through my shop and blogs on various Social Media, it behooves me to keep an eye on what is catching the mass consciousness attention. From a passing fascination with the contemporary expression of this very old idea, I found a much deeper interest in researching its origins and traditional meanings. 

In traditional Japanese aesthetics, Wabi-sabi is a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, roughness, simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy, and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.

From Wikipedia

The concept derives from the Buddhist teaching regarding the Three Marks of Existence— Impermanence, Suffering and Emptiness (absence of Self-Nature). So, in essence, wabi-sabi can be described as beauty that is imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. The root words, Wabi and Sabi have apparently evolved over time. Wabi’s original meaning referred to the loneliness of living alone in nature, remote from society. Sabi meant lean or withered. More recent connotations for Wabi involve quiet, freshness and a rustic simplicity— Sabi is the beauty and serenity that comes with age; patina, wear and visible repair.

While for many centuries Wabi-Sabi incorporated artistic and Buddhist influences from China, over time it settled into a very distinctly Japanese ideal. Though the original influence of Wabi-Sabi was toward understanding emptiness and imperfection in regard to taking the first steps toward Enlightenment, in present day Japan, it is more often condensed into “wisdom in natural simplicity” or “flawed beauty”. To sum it up: Wabi-sabi is intuitive appreciation of the transient beauty in the physical world reflecting the irreversible flow of life in the spiritual world. It is an aesthetic sensibility that finds melancholic beauty in the impermanence of all things. ( Some information excerpted From: WABI-SABI and UNDERSTANDING JAPAN)

Abandoning Perfection

I find myself fascinated with the entire concept, both its traditional roots and its contemporary interpretation. Maybe a bit strange for a self-proclaimed perfectionist. However, If I have learned nothing else these past few years, it is that I have to Let Go. While I may dream of being the woman who can have it all—business, home, family, hobbies— shiny and perfect, the Truth is I can only do so much. I can try to have a magazine worthy home, but I have come to accept that this glossy perfection seldom extends far beyond the camera frame, and that it takes an enormous amount of time and energy to achieve. I’ve quit kicking myself for not Living up to my own unrealistic goals. Let Go and Let God is my philosophy these days. The more attuned I become with my Spiritual Being and my Higher Self Guidance, the less I worry about these transient things.

 Besides, I think I have reached a stage in life where I might very well be considered Wabi-Sabi! Blessings to All…

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Memory and Tradition

∴ Removing Obstacles ∴

Finding the Path to a Simpler, More Mindful Life

My feature photo for this post is a representation of the elephant headed Hindu Deity Ganesha or Lord Ganesh. I happened across it on Creative Market on the shop of photographer and designer, Kaushal Jangid. I was fascinated by it and purchased it without any clear idea of where or how I might use it. The more I read about Ganesha, the more apt it seems that he has come into my life just now. He seems like a good being to have on your side. Representing learning and intellect, he is also recognized as a remover of Obstacles, both physical and Spiritual. This son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati represents the traits of generosity, acceptance and protection. The qualities of effortlessness and wisdom are also associated with this good-natured god.

I am quite taken with both the deity and this photo. The depiction of Ganesh seems to emanate comfort and good will, causes me to feel good just looking at it. And the things he represents—generosity, effortless existence and acceptance, as well as wisdom— are all traits that I wish to cultivate. I am ready for life to flow, to quit creating more complexity than living really requires. I am attempting this year to streamline my life, my home, my work and my consciousness. It is my Intent to live more Mindfully, to pay attention to what is needed rather than just wanted, to organize my surroundings, and to listen to my guidance, to the small still voice that so often gets drowned out under the chaotic dialogue of daily living.

Yogic Magic

I’m not certain that it is a profound transformation I’ve experienced since setting my mind in this direction, but I have been making gentle inroads for some time now. I take at least a few moments a day to Meditate—and that is being a very good, very centering thing for me. This past month or so, I finally quit using my old “as soon as I have time” excuse and began setting aside time for yoga almost every day. Since then, I have become part of the #YogaEveryDamnDay Club. It seems that the feelings and energy engendered by the yoga postures are habit forming. That is a good thing also.

A few weeks into my practice, I tried a Kundalini Yoga class on a whim. In short order, I was hooked. I feel as though this is the discipline I’ve been searching for. I’m still a novice, but every day I feel stronger, healthier and more in touch with my body. This ancient technology appeals to me both physically and spiritually in ways I am just starting to understand. The use of the breath in powerful and dynamic ways is awakening aspects of self that have remained mostly dormant for years now. As difficult as it was for me at first beginning to use Chanting and Mantras, I see clearly now that I have been in deep need of using my voice in such a way. My throat chakra or Visuddha has long been a weak point for me.

Open and aligned, the Throat Chakra is characterized by inspired creativity, seeking after and the sharing of truth. It is open honesty in speech, the ability to stand up and speak forth what you know and believe, and unabashed self-expression. Somewhere along the line, I became hesitant about saying what I thought, unwilling to share my truth or speak up for myself. I’ve known this for a long time, but was unable to Do anything about it. I am finding my Voice these days, and that is a little scary, but very satisfying. I will continue to follow the Path that Kundalini Yoga opens for me with interest and I think, delight.

We Are What We Eat

Feeling better and healthier are the result of more than just doing an hour or so of yoga every day. As a family, we are working toward a healthier diet and lifestyle. We have been eating lots of vegetables, salads with most meals, winter favorites like broccoli, cauliflower and beets have graced our table often, and we are doing poke or Buddha type bowls at least one night most weeks. We purchased an Instant Pot recently, and so far at least, would heartily recommend this versatile kitchen accessory.

As for myself, I discovered the books by Anthony William, the Medical Medium a few months ago and my intuition perked up. I was certain that this man had valuable information to share with me. I initially bought his book Life-Changing Foods: Save Yourself and the Ones You Love with the Hidden Healing Powers of Fruits & Vegetables, and more recently, Medical Medium: Secrets Behind Chronic and Mystery Illness and How to Finally Heal. Both have been eye openers for me. (These books are available at many booksellers and online from Amazon.com) Like so many of the people who have read and taken to heart his books, I recognized patterns of physical problems in myself that he speaks of. Earlier this year, I did a modified version of his 28 Day Detox Plan. I didn’t try to force anything. My very nature struggles against ultimatums, and I know this about myself.

Healthy Fruits- Berries are among the Best.
Image by Couleur from Pixabay

I didn’t stick to it stringently, bu I did radically change my familiar patterns. I gave myself a day off on the weekend, worked the evening meal into something for the whole family, and adjusted to my schedule and routine. At the end of it, I was feeling refreshed, ready to work the new eating habits into my life, and three or four pounds lighter. I have become a fruit fan like never before in my life. While I have always loved vegetables and liked fruit well enough, I never seriously considered how much nutrition and healing I could get out of it.

I will say quite honestly that while I am currently doing the morning Celery Juice on an empty stomach regimen three days a week, I still don’t like it. However, that said, if I continue to feel better as I have been, I will probably do it even more often. Sometimes I am one who has to ease into things. I’m not the only member of our household to make major changes.

Partner and Daughter Gaia has, over the past year or so, wowed everyone who knows her with her own transformation. She has been plagued most of her young life with indigestion and other stomach issues. After doing extensive research into various views on nutrition and her specific problems, she has completely changed her own diet, eliminating almost all processed foods and sugars, cutting out lots of high carb food and completely giving up bread. She continues to eat three substantial meals a day (various raw greens and vegetables make up a part of all three), feels much better and has far fewer issues. And without trying, she has lost more than fifteen pounds. She exercises daily and looks fantastic. I will have to say that while I don’t have her Will Power, I felt inspired to follow her lead.

Removing More Obstacles

If you have any questions about what I have covered today, feel free to ask. In the meanwhile, I will try to continue with Lord Ganesh’s influence on our lives in a week or so, on the more mundane subject of increasing peace and happiness through simplification around the household. We are in cleaning out mode here. Again, Gaia takes the lead. I’ll explain in the next part.

I will say that, being a collector and reseller of vintage goods, I don’t mind a bit of clutter (particularly in my work room apparently ) but I do like cleanliness and organization. Working on getting my house, and my life more organized eases my mind and puts me in a state where I truly think that many obstacles to peace, and both spiritual and physical progress, can truly be removed. Thanks, Lord Ganesha, for the inspiration!

Still working on:

Procrastination (more to come)

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Removing Obstacles