31 Days of Contemplative Practice

The regulars in this space will know that I love me a month-long challenge, particularly of a photo nature…

There are so many FEELINGS here, y’all! I have my hands full bearing witness to the feelings of my first-year community, not to mention my own! And the vibe of intellectual superiority at the sacrifice of wholeness is real, embedded in both the structure and the vibe of this place, among students and administration. Don’t get it twisted, there are so many communal practice spaces and events, student-led and admin-sanctioned, for de-stressing and eating and talking and feeling.

And: the specter of intellectual rigor, the valorization of white-supremacist constructed, patriarchal, hierarchical learning process, the “don’t ask me to move or feel, I just gotta WORK” vibe is REAL here.

Like, it’s REALLY REAL.

I did not take this picture. But I have it set as my home screen because I think it is a gift to smile at the frowning faces I meet here all. the. time.

I did not take this picture. But I have it set as my home screen because I think it is a gift to smile at the frowning faces I meet here all. the. time.

I’m not complaining. I know where I am and I know what I’ve chosen. Not my first rodeo. I dig rigor, and I can handle it in this context and form. Let’s Get Into It.

One thing I’m intrigued by is a kind of magnetic pull I’m feeling toward contemplative practices. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised: my spiritual practice has been contemplative for years. But this feels different. I’m thinking about the subversive nature of folks who choose a cloistered life, particularly femme folks. I’m thinking about where we pursue quiet, how we hear that still, small voice when it literally feels like the world is falling down around us. I’m thinking about these early mothers and fathers of the Christian tradition who were looking for God in their own face, in the faces of folks who made them crazy, in the faces of their leaders and congregants and community members, in the face in the mirror. What is the contemplative practice here, in this Pitta-pregnant learning institution? What is it on the sidelines, or in the thick, of suffering and oppression? What is this THING?

I realized today that my social media portals, this one included, have become a kind of verbal processing place, a place where I think out loud to try to understand what I can’t yet. My husband thanks you for holding some of the burden of listening.

So, starting today, on my Instagram Feed: 31 Days of Contemplative Practice. I don’t know what it will be. Real. Not always pretty. Thoughtful. Messy. Attentive. Genuine.

I’ll use a hashtag, #31DaysofContemplativePractice. Look if you’re curious, join me if you’re interested. Let’s see what we find.

So here’s Day One. An image of Parvati that I colored years ago and placed on my altar. Hindu goddess of sacred marriage, the Divine Yogini, she who seeks to bring God to her with the tapas of her practice. I’ve felt an abiding connection to her, to this yearn, to this work, though, to be fair, I’ve never spent ten thousand years standing one-footed in a stream chanting Om Namah Shivaya. (Although, we have been working on balance in my ballet class.) Looking at her reminds me of what the power of personal will can manifest.