Challenges come often when one is attempting to walk the path of spirit amidst a metropolis such as New York City. That is the beauty of New York after all, there are so many options. One can decide to become anything, to go wild, and to disappear entirely if one wishes. One can also choose to find oneself completely, to step into an updated and empowered version of who they were always meant to be and to live a life filled with health and harmonious relationships. It is a matter of choice and dedication. Some might call the latter the path of the spiritual warrior.
The urban warrior's challenge is to keep himself or herself centered. So often we drop the gentle peace gained in meditation whilst taking a packed subway ride home. Or, we let go of the vision gained from sacred ceremony because we return to a job that doesn’t resonate, an environment that doesn’t support these new ways of seeing ourselves. How many of us have regularly struggled to get out of bed in the morning feeling burdened by the pressures of the world? The mind comes in, sometimes sneaking up on us, and pulls us out of balance. Riding my bike home tonight I saw a flood of yoga students just out of class, each one walking with cell phone in hand with mind in the ether. With the flood of information rushing at us from all sides, our peace can instantly turn to dismay. So quickly we can forget the beauty within and when this happens we experience suffering. How then can we continue to remember?
An elder once instructed me to carry reminders of the sacred at all times. Not in a fanatical way but as a gentle anchor to keep me from getting lost. It could be anything from a sacred text (such as the Bhagavad Gita or the Yoga Sutras) to a photo or drawing of a holy person (Buddha, Amma, Krishna etc…) At the moment I keep a small drawing of Jesus tucked into my cell phone case. I wouldn't say I am a Christian but I do believe in the teachings of forgiveness and compassion. Plus, this was a gift from a friend this past birthday. For me, it is not a religious sentiment but a spiritual one. It’s a reminder of something higher than myself and that at any moment I can connect to that which is divine. The image evokes a passageway to uplift myself out of any low vibrational frequency I might be dwelling in, be it a subway car that smells terrible or my mind gnarling away on some old story. It reminds me to pray for what I want and to protect myself from what I don’t want. The power is in me to use it. Since it rests in my cell phone case, I see it all the time. The picture itself resonates like a mantra, continually working on my behalf. We have to trick our minds into taking the high road. Creating an environment to support our thinking towards more positivity is key.
If I have a long commute and want to listen to music I will choose some mantras or bhajans to keep myself centered. And if I am in the mood to read, then I am most likely studying to keep myself informed and in tune. These practices create more harmony amongst myself and fellow commuters too. I don’t feel as agitated moving in a sea of people and I secretly hope my books on astrology inspire others to become curious about their own star charts. My commutes weren’t always so enlightened. It took a long period of trying things out. What sort of energetic and even physical experiences was I attracting while listening to something hard, heavy and violent in my ear phones? What sort of odd fantasies was my mind playing out? Why did I need to do that? After a while it became clear that I had a choice.
Did you know that the Hindu Goddess of abundance, Lakshmi, will not enter your home if it is untidy? My home is a temple. A place for Saints to stop by and have tea. After all, this is where the magic truly happens, activities such as :
- healing myself and sometimes healing others
- entertaining friends, family and loved ones
I have to be incredibly organized and also deeply inspired to keep going. Aside from the occasional passing street noise or neighbor, the environment is completely contained and protected. There are altars and flowers, sweet smells and images to invoke the realm of the spirit. There are certain rules I abide by:
- no yelling
- no violence
- no meat
- no drugs
- no alcohol
There are karmic duties to fulfill and a general compliance to keep the space clean and orderly. This is how I choose to remind myself of who I am and where I am going and that I am here to walk the path of the sacred.
We can create our own reminders as well. What better way to express our connection to spirit than to embody that feeling in a work of art made by our very own hands. To create is to express divinity. Think of all the beautiful yantras, tapestries and weavings that come from various traditions. These creations are made with intention and prayer. An artist is detailed and mindful in their act of creating and fully driven by spirit no matter what the medium.
So take a moment to decide where you would like to put your mind today. What vibration do you wish to magnify? What will you create to remind you of your sacred and beautiful life?