The Practice: Part 3

Tonight’s new moon in Gemini is a shift and the beginning of a new cycle. I’m getting into the energy and did a clearing ritual today. I smudged the apartment, Ro and myself with sage, refreshed my crystal altar, and used lavender essential oil and Reiki symbols to cleanse our space. I sat outside to reflect in my journal and clarify my intentions. I wrote a list of what I want to let go of, burned the list, and wrote a list of dreams and goals that I want to manifest. This moon is about release and renewal.

These kinds of rituals and household magic are elements of my practice, pieces of traditions and spiritual tools that have spoken to me over the years. Since I’ve lived in Belize and have been moving through all that comes with this process, my spiritual and self-care practice is what grounds and nourishes me, and I use many of these elements in my daily routine. I don’t use all of them every day; rather, I engage them according to what I need and how I’m feeling. There is no right or wrong way. I do what feels good to me. Pleasure is an essential aspect of my practice.

Yoga. Today marks 240 days of practicing asana every day. This looks all kinds of ways. Sometimes I focus on a particular pose for the week. Sometimes it’s about working on balance or strength. Lately I’m getting more playful with it and exploring movement and flow, finding different ways to get into poses, and incorporating some of my dance background. My yoga practice supports me. It brings me into direct connection with myself, my body, my feelings and provides a space for me to work through whatever I’ve got going on. Some days I really need to breathe into the tightness of pigeon pose or quiver in chaturanga. Other days, it’s all about child’s pose right before bed. The main thing is that I make space for it every single day as a commitment to myself and my practice.

Meditation. My yoga practice has reconnected me with meditation, and I often end yoga sessions with it. I was taught Vipassana meditation on the week-long silent retreats I went on for years, and this is the technique I find myself drawn to. It feels most accessible to me compared to other techniques I’ve tried. Even when there is a lot of tightness or anxiety, I can use the Vipassana approach to come into awareness. With all the challenges of moving and living abroad, meditation and cultivating mindfulness have been incredibly helpful, especially as reminders that the nature of the mind is crazy and chaotic and it isn’t my own failing when my thoughts are all over the place.

Journaling. I’ve been keeping a journal since I was ten and I still have all of them (sitting in boxes in storage). Every few years I read a bunch of recent ones. And each time I’m surprised by how much I felt, how strong my feelings were, the weight of my thoughts, all the things I’ve grappled with over the years. I’ve come to really appreciate them, all those books and pages I filled, all those reflections of my own aliveness and growth and love. As much as I find writing to be healing in the moment when I give voice to what’s inside of me, I’m starting to think that maybe a reason I keep journaling after all these years is to have something to look back on, a map of my life, evidence that I’ve lived for those times when it feels like I haven’t done or been enough.

Reiki. I got my first Reiki attunement fifteen years ago. Since then I’ve done many healing treatments for people (and animals), and doing Reiki on folks is something I love. In recent months, though, as I’ve focused more on creating a sustainable and nurturing daily routine, I’ve been doing a lot of Reiki on myself. I used to do it periodically when I felt sluggish or when I had my period (Reiki is great for cramps), but lately I’ve been laying hands on myself whenever I get the mind to. It’s been an especially supportive tool while working through some root chakra stuff around money and stability, and a powerful reminder that it’s okay to put my own healing and well-being first.

Crystals. I have a modest collection of crystals that I’ve been growing over the years. I’ve selected them all myself and I love them – how they look, feel, their unique textures and shapes, and their individual vibrations. I keep a clear quartz point and amethyst cluster on my nightstand, and add other stones according to what I need and feel. Lately I’ve been using lapis lazuli and turquoise a lot in my crystal altar, as well as wearing my tiger’s eye ring for grounding and centering when I travel. The clear quartz is helpful during meditation and to inspire clarity when I’m in a receptive state. I also love crystals for the beauty they bring to my space – I find them visually healing, as well.

Tarot. I recently pulled a card that hadn’t come up before. Because I wasn’t familiar with it, I didn’t have a clear idea right away about what it was speaking to. I sat with it for a while and allowed the card to reveal itself to me, opening myself to receiving whatever message I needed to at that moment. I have been working this way with the cards lately – developing my relationship with them and being a bit more passive and receptive, rather than focusing on structured readings. I’ve used several different decks over the years but the New Orlean’s Voodoo Tarot is my favorite. The cards are so alive and conjure a tradition of magic and ritual. Let me also say that I have no illusion that I’m the one doing the reading – many times the cards have read me.

Altar. The foundation of my spiritual practice is sustaining my relationship with my ancestors. I began performing ancestral rituals when I was twenty-three and wanting to heal the wounds from my father’s death during my childhood. From learning about Ifa and the practice of honoring our ancestors through ritual and prayer, I created my first ancestral altar. It has been an essential element in my practice ever since, in various forms, from modest to elaborate. Lately my offering has been simple – lit white candle, glass of water, shot of rum. I speak to them. They hear me. Ashé.

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