How do our intentions towards our home shape the atmosphere within it? All creative acts begin within our thoughts, and as our thoughts take shape they begin to effect things within the physical realm. Nowhere have I found this to be more true than within my own home. While I take care of it, it also takes care of me- and the relationship I share with my physical space speaks volumes of who I am, reflecting the care I feel our family deserves as well our individual personalities.
The meditative practices which help one to create a home which truly supports the trifold nature of the human beings within, at first center around the cultivation of attitudes. These attitudes then begin to serve as stepping stones, creating a receptivity to spiritual beings (God, our guardian angels) who can help us discover how to meet the needs of those in our household. The first attitude I would like to touch upon is Reverence.
Reverence, with its playmates- wonder and awe- these sum up the very first perspectives we meet the world with as children. I regularly find inspiration for viewing the world through the grid of these sentiments when I spend time with my own two young children. It reminds me of the passage in one of the Gospels when Jesus affirms "you must become like a little child to enter the kingdom of heaven"...
Antipathy and sympathy are always at work within us; neither one is "bad", nor "good"- rather, they are each helpful at certain times. Antipathy, while reflecting a "closed", "contracted", and "critical" state of being, is nevertheless valuable in helping us make right and true judgements. But sympathy- an "open", "expansive", and "tolerant" state of being- is sorely underused in our culture, and in our society's approach to domestic affairs. "Hurry up and get it over with"... is one example of an overly developed critical faculty. In my own life, cultivating reverence for my home and the tasks I do within it have encouraged a sympathetic outlook - and in this open, expansive condition I am able to receive encouragement, revelation, and instruction from the spiritual realms.
How can you develop and cultivate the attitudes I propose? I am sure there are many ways, as many ways as there are individuals! A few approaches I have taken are as follows:
1. I close my eyes for a moment and picture myself within a beautiful church or place of worhsip I have visited. I envision the stained glass, the vaulted ceilings, the sense of oldness, magnificence, and "something-greater-than-me" that a holy place invokes. What does "holy" mean? "Set apart"- having a special function or use for which it is reserved- a use which serves spiritual/religious purposes.
I open my eyes, still holding these feelings in my heart. I then carry them into my perception of my home, viewing it as my "temple". I picture myself as a priestess of the home, creating a link between earth and heaven- between my family members and the Divine. As I move through the rooms of my house, I ask myself if there are any tangible ways to project these attitudes and feelings so that others may receive the same sense when they walk into the house. Perhaps it is one room in the house I focus on creating a sanctuary atmosphere. Perhaps I create "temple stations" for myself- areas I frequently perform my tasks in which I wish to convey a sense of the sacredness of my work- candles and incense by the kitchen sink where I "absolve" our home of grime, fragrant oils and balms for aromatheraphy and annointing in my cleaning caddy in the bathroom closet... however I can remind myself that these most basic tasks are a means to provide comfort and the emotional nourishment it brings to the souls within.
2. Another way to practice reverence is to look for the goodness, beauty, and/or truth in everything my eyes take in- and appreciate it. Does my 3 year old drop a cup and glass shatter everywhere? Well, it may look like a mess to someone else, but as I stoop to sweep it up I notice how the sun catches the individual shards and makes them sparkle. Can I admire the soothing repetition of my mopping motion, aligning my inhalations and exhalations and enjoying the sense of inner balance this creates?
3. Going back to my first idea of envisioning a holy place- how would I stand in such a place? Would I be slouching- or standing straight and tall? Would my movements be jerky or calm and fluid? If I spilled a drop of communion wine on the floor of a place of worship, would I squat down unceremoniously, huffing and puffing and muttering under my breath- or would I clean it respectfully, honoring the space?
Of course, we laugh and play in our homes. We are not trying to be "dignified"- and we want to relax here. But reverence- in the sense of awe and wonder- are wonderful attitudes to cultivate around our dwellings. What are your ideas?
Want to read more along these lines? I recommend "The Quotidian Mysteries", "The Spiritual Tasks of the Homemaker", "Homemaking and Personal Development", and "Cooking For the Love of the World". I also blog about these topics at http://www.artistryandalchemy.blogspot.com/.
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