Thursday, March 25, 2010

We Are One

When I was flipping through a magazine recently, something interesting caught my attention. It was a half page article bullet-pointing the main characteristics of Hinduism. Now, it caught my attention because I have been studying Hinduism in depth lately for a writing project I'm working on... and I find the religion absolutely fascinating. Anyway, here's what really grabbed me about the article: It stated that Hindus worship many gods, but may choose one particular God to which they focus greater attention.

It is my understanding that this statement is absolutely not true. Hindus do not worship many gods. Hindus believe that there is but one God, which they call Brahma. The other prominent images in Hinduism, such as Ganesh and Vishnu, Shiva and Rama, are simply an incarnation of that one God that embodies specific characteristics. So, for example, I am simply one "me." But I am also mother, daughter, sister, wife, friend... each of these aspects of myself projects a different aspect of my character. It personalizes the relationship that someone has with me. This is how Hindus relate to God.

Will you see various images being worshipped at shrines and temples, on home alters and depicted in books? Yes. These images help the worshipper to invoke different attributes of him or herself: With Vishnu it's balance and ultimate good, with Shiva it might be self-control, or with Ganesh- wisdom. One might pray to the characters of Ramayana when seeking out the path within the construct of family... how to be a good wife, brother, father or son. The way a Hindu worships these "gods" might be similar to how a Catholic prays to different saints, or to the Holy Trinity. (However, I haven't begun to dig deeply into Christianity, yet... Maybe that will be my next project! But which denomination of Christianity? There are so many!)

To further illustrate my point that Hinduism in not polytheistic, I discovered that Hindus believe that even when a Christian prays to Christ or a Muslim to Allah, they are all praying to the same God. God is one. Not that the other religions are praying to the Hindu God, they take no ownership over God. They simply believe there is One, and people choose to worship Him in different ways.

Would this message of complete inclusion of all religions, as simply different paths to the same God, build a peaceful world if it were deeply embedded in every faith tradition? I tend to think so.

But I have so much to learn...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Running, Ghost Hunting, and Salsa

Many of you know that I have recently started running. But you might be surprised about the reason why I took up this rigorous and often painful (albeit healthy) activity! I didn't start running necessarily for health, for weight loss, for muscle toning. I didn't start running to clear my mind or run away from something. I actually started running to get closer to something... uh, er, someONE. I ran for the connection Jay, my partner of over thirteen years.

Somewhere along the road our journeys, while staying parallel, split into seperate paths. We no longer shared many common interest. We disagreed about where to go on date nights, we didn't enjoy the same movies or books, we filled up our free time (what little of it there was) volunteering for different organizations, often going out with different friends, or reading different books on opposite ends of the couch. He wasn't interested in what was happening to Rachel in "The Red Tent," and I really wasn't too interested in hearing a detailed description of the Masonic symbols as recited from "Freemasonry for Dummies." Our road somehow forked, and we diverged.

When we realized this, I decided it was time for me to rediscover my relationship with my husband. How could I connect? Well, I couldn't become a Freemason... I'm pretty sure that's now allowed. But I could run. And I was pretty sure it would be good for me in more ways than one. So I told Jay to sign me up for running the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure with him! We'd for a team: Team "Will Run for Boobs!" He was surprised and happy, I think, that I was taking some interest in one of his passions!

It was slow going for me, but after a couple of weeks I was running 5k! I would call him with raspy breath and give him my new best time! We'd talk about routes through the neighborhood, or the vertigo you get when you hop off the treadmill. He's going to help me get my Race web page going. Meanwhile, I am getting healthier and feeling better about myself!

I know it seems like a small thing, but I'm sure this interest I started showing in one of JASON's hobbies has helped us reconnect to one another on a deeper level. It shows him that I apreciate him and am interested in what he does. In turn, he has gone out Salsa dancing with me... something that he would NEVER choose to do on his own! And we had an absolute blast!

Next week we plan on combining one of his favorites with one of mine... Salsa lessons and ghost hunting! So I guess what I'm getting at is this: If you feel like you are missing something in your relationship, don't try to ask your partner to find it. YOU find it! Try showing some interest in one of your partner's hobbies... ask them to show you how to cook that famous souffle that they make so perfectly, dust off the bikes and have him show you how to trail ride, take an art or dance class together, ask her about that online game she is so engrossed in or that movie he's been wanting to see. I guarantee, even if it's not your favorite activity, it will make your partner swell with love for you... just that you CARE about something important to them.

Okay, well, that's enough "Dear Abby" advice for today. It's just been on my mind so I thought I'd share my discovery with you... in case it might help you too!

Now, if anyone else is interested in ghost hunting and Salsa dancing.... ;)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Pieces of Peace

Last night was Goddess Night... Ahhhh, Goddess night... the second Friday of the month, from 7:30pm until (well, um... late) is a sacred time for me and the women who gather at the church to share this incredible journey we call womanhood. This particular Friday night happened to be incredibly moving for me for several reasons.

First, it was an amazing feat of time juggling to get the children coordinated for the evening. Jason was in Detroit for a masonic speaker for the first part of the night, so it was time to call in the troops. Hah! I couldn't be more appreciative for my friend in Livonia who took Kayden rollerskating and made some delicious popcorn balls for a late movie (as evidenced by the blue marshmallow lips :), and to another friend for hosting Chailyn for a fun play date! Thanks to our gracious friends, each of our family members spent an evening nurturing our spirits in our own separate ways! I went to sleep last night feeling such gratitude for the people that surround me, who bring me peace in so many ways. ((( yes, sigh here )))

Second, the content of the Goddess evening was very deep and meaningful. Mary lead the group in a meditation that drew out the light in each and every woman in the room and connected us in a circle of life. We went on to our check-in, as usual, but this time it seemed that each woman had a unique narrative of creating healthy relationships within their families that was truly touching and inspiring. At one point, when Jeanie was talking about her recent accomplishments with her work against puppy mills, an explosion of warmth actually erupted in my chest and spread throughout my body. That feeling of warmth and connectedness continued through out the night... from the conversation over plates of food to the closing when we shared what gave us peace at the end of the day. I went home feeling completely content, like a warm blanket wrapped around my soul.

And indeed, I have been finding peace in my life lately. But I didn't find it in one place, like a treasure chest buried in the sand. Instead I found little pieces of it in many different places. One surprising place I found a piece was in my own body! I have been running. I started running because I registered for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in May, so I thought I'd better prepare myself. But once I started, I couldn't stop. For the first time this week, I ran three miles in under forty minutes! It felt GREAT to reach that milestone. Not to mention that the exercise, combined with a little bit of food control, have helped me lose eight and a half pounds since the beginning of February. I am discovering first hand just how connected are the body and mind. When I don't at least take a very long walk on a given day, I feel drowsy and down by night fall. The body and mind go hand in hand, or even closer! They are just two part of one organism... our self!

I found another piece in ritual. My family started an evening prayer ritual that has helped us connect to one another, and to really be introspective in regard to our own thoughts and behaviors. We gather in the meditation room. The children light a candle and Kayden usually says, "I have a light in me." Chailyn recites a prayer that he made up about peace, love, and light. We ring a chime for a short silent meditation on a topic that the kids come up with. We have had peace, the light in us, respect, etc... Then we talk about our thoughts. We reflect on how we could have behaved more according to whatever principle we meditated on. We forgive ourselves for mistakes and vow to do our kindest the next day. We end with the chalice meditation, a squeeze pass, and a collective extinguishing of the candle. This short ritual has brought our family together in so many ways. It has put "the spiritual path" directly into the course of our day, which can often become forgotten alongside the megahighway of daily routine.

The last piece was found scattered among my friends and family. Truly, the relationships that I have are like that warm blanket wrapped around my soul. I have been closer to Jason than ever (as he is also working on his inner peace). We are sharing an understanding, respect, and joy that can often drown under more than a decade of marriage. And after last night, I realized again how amazing it is to have a network of support in a practical way... but little do all of the amazing people in my life know that the practical support has an underlying layer of love and caring that shines through each and every time they reach out a hand to help. True friendship... that is what completes my circle of peace.

As the old adage so profoundly states: The size of a heart is not measured by how much one loves, but by how much one is loved by others. Hmmm, I feel my heart swelling just now...

May peace be with you... body, mind, and spirit.