Would you like to jump-start your meditation practice? Or have an instant dose of serenity? A home altar might be just the thing to help you.
Many people may think of altars as something only found in a church, but they don’t have to be limited to that.
The right “place” can make all the difference to what you want to do. How well could you work without an office? Or cook without a kitchen?
By the same token, we will benefit greatly from a designated place for our spiritual practice.
What is an altar?
Altars are built to hold focused energy, and help you to feel calm and centered when you approach them. It represents your intention to create more serenity, peace and love in your space and your life.
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” Henry Ford
In 2003 and 2013, seeking change in my life, I went to Brazil to see the medium Joao de Deus [John of God] at the Casa de Dom Ignacio de Loyola.
The Casa is a place where miraculous cures regularly occur. It’s also a place of kindness and acceptance of people from all over the world.
So I was surprised to read an interview with John of God in which, when asked what determines if a person gets cured, his answer was “merit.”
More and more, modern people are turning to indigenous teachings to learn a better way to live. Perhaps acceptance of gay rights could be the next lesson.
Here are a few things Native Americans have already contributed:
- The Great Law of Peace of the Iroquois Nation was the model for the United States Constitution.
- Native Americans were the original environmentalists. Care of the earth was so ingrained in their way of life that they didn’t even have a separate word for it.
- In making decisions, Native peoples would first ask how it would affect their descendents 7 generations into the future.
- Though they generally had separate roles, women were honored members of most tribes and could own property.
- Healing the whole person, body, mind and spirit was how they approached illness.
- The earth, and women, were viewed as sacred.
- They taught acceptance instead of judgment.
Many Native American and First Nations cultures accepted gender variation. In fact, lesbians and homosexuals were often considered sacred.
Yet, in spite of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges conferring the right to marry to same-sex couples, many in the United States still oppose same-sex unions.
We have so much to learn.
There’s a lot of talk of “new year’s resolutions” these days. Probably because the new year seems a good time to create a “new you.”
What is a “new you?” That is a personal question that each must answer for themselves.
For me, it has to do with qualities of being rather than getting a new wardrobe or hairstyle. Those things have their place, but if you’re a reader of this blog, you probably want to look a little deeper at your life.
I always strive to be a better version of myself: less judgmental, more compassionate and forgiving, kinder, more nurturing. The list goes on.
One of my frequent prayers is for help in taking my spiritual work to the next level, and I think developing qualities like that are excellent hallmarks of a spiritual life.
Food for thought. But yes, I also want to lose the five pounds I gained over the holidays!
So now on to the practical tips for making change:
“Winter Solstice is the time when light is born out of the womb of winter’s darkness.” Mara Freeman, in Kindling the Celtic Spirit: Ancient Traditions to Illumine Your Life Through the Seasons
To original peoples around the world the Winter Solstice is a time of great celebration. This year it takes place on December 21.
It signifies the return of the sun through longer days and shorter nights until the sun reaches its zenith at the Summer Solstice.
Many ancient cultures considered it to be the true beginning of the “new year.”
It’s something modern society takes for granted, and may not even notice. We always assume the sun will rise and set every day. But what if it didn’t?
What if it gave up because we never said, “Thank you!”