A Date with My Soul- The Search for Creativity
It has been awhile since I painted, wrote poetry or danced. I just haven’t had the fuel for the fire of creativity.
I noticed this months ago and just accepted it and thought I would ride it out having seen this pattern or inspiration before. Then a good friend called me out on it saying that I just seemed down and she offered me the remedy- some space. Not just any space, a stone cabin above the Yuba river- a scenic space to inspire creativity and an awe of the natural world. I jumped at the chance and instantly began crafting my to do list- yoga, meditation, walks by the river, drumming, chanting, reading and sleep. I laughed this was a bit much to tackle in one 24 period and decided to just let the time unfold. I realized that this wasn’t just alone time that I would be getting, it was in fact a date with my soul. A chance to dig deep with the tools I have been given to cultivate the relationship with my creative self.
I packed lightly since I would be hiking down to the cabin and only there for the night. Just the essential which for me included my yoga sheepskin mat and a small frame drum. I was amazed to get everything into one backpack! Once I was packed I gave lots of hugs to my son and husband and set out.
The day was rainy, with a flood advisory for most of Northern California. I could see why, it had been raining for days and with more rain to follow. I parked my car on the pavement well above the cabin to be sure I could drive out then next day. I hefted the pack onto my back- I may have gotten everything into one pack, but that pack wasn’t light! The weight of the pack grounded me to the earth as I set out on my adventure. The trail was soft from the rain and the small creek that normally meandered beside the trail was rushing with the new fallen rain.
I turned the corner with the trail and my cabin came into view. There was a soft smoke drifting up from the chimney. I was touched to see that my friends prepared a fire to warm the cabin for my arrival. I set my pack down inside and was like a child receiving this perfect gift of this special space. Wanting to take advantage of the break in the storm I made my way down to the river. I could hear its roar through the trees and was in awe when it came into view. The current storm raised it quickly so that it was almost unrecognizable to the casual river I visited the month before. I was again child like in my awe of the power and force of the river. The water was racing, rushing, stumbling upon itself in its dash to the sea.
I knew I didn’t have long before it would rain again so I took in the river and headed back to the cabin. Once inside I got to work settling in. I unpacked my sheepskin and placed it on the floor, I put my books and drum on the table by the window. I sat down in the tall hand carved chair that felt like a throne looking out over the river. I thought to myself what would it be like if every where I sat felt like a throne. What would life be like if we carried ourselves with a regal air in the conference room, on the bus, at the dinner table? I found myself content sitting in this space and decided this was the perfect start to the practice ahead. I sat still and regal watching the changing fall colors confront the winter storm. I realized that this was the longest I had sat still in recent time without a computer as my focus.
The drum on the table caught my attention and inspired me to play a welcome drum beat to create a space for me to practice in. I played and gazed out the window. Soon a streamer of mist formed above the river outside and seemed to engage the drum. The mist dakini danced to the drum beat and soon everything was covered in mist. The drumbeat stopped. I was ready to move on to yoga after adding more wood the fire.
I have practiced yoga for years, but never as a devotee until this last year, where I find myself practicing Kundalini yoga almost every day. I sat down to my sheepskin and opened with the chant Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo- I call on the Infinite Creative Consciousness, I call on the Divine Wisdom within my own consciousness. This seemed the perfect invitation to connect with my soul.
My practice unfolded with each kriya building on the last. My body was content from the hiking and yoga and so my mind was clear and ready for meditation. This is what I was here for- this meeting with my soul. I felt the first moments of deep connection and grabbed hold. I wanted to embody this feeling. Gently I was told that it was really more of a disembodying- a letting go of the physical constraints to experience the more subtle world of the soul. I could set down the butterfly net that I had been using to try to capture my soul and instead become the butterfly. After a good long soak in the mist of my soul my meditation ended. The cabin was cool, so I added more wood to the fire.
After a short break to eat a light dinner and check in with my family, I prepared for more yoga and meditation. The only light came from the fire and as I added more wood to it I realized that this was the perfect metaphor for my practice. I was tending my own inner fire.
I savored each moment of meditation and closed for the day. I jumped into bed and read poetry from Yogananda and wisdom from Deepak Chopra. I added more wood to the fire and hoped that it would miraculously keep me warm through the night. I drifted into a light sleep as I processed the insights from the day. Every couple hours I woke just as the embers of the fire grew dim. I added more wood and listened to the wind and rain outside. Tonight the river and rain were my mantras to listen to while sleeping.
I woke early, made some tea and was back on the mat for more. After some yoga I began chanting. The stone walls made a powerful container for my chanting and I felt the vibrations of the chant elevate me. I realized that the elements were all represented- the stone of the rock walls= earth, the rain and river= water, the blowing wind= air, the fire= clearly fire, and here I was in the center working with the subtle element of ether.
It was powerful to be so still, warm and dry while the storm whirled around me and pounded rain on the stone walls. I thought that this too was a good metaphor for being in the world but not engaging in the drama of it. Of course we don’t always have stone walls around us for protection, but the spiritual work I was doing would act as that shield. The storm grew more intense as the morning went on. The wind was so strong that it tossed the trees around me and the river rushed with its newly gathered rain. I was ever grateful for the fire inside! I new my time in this sacred space would soon be ending. I packed up my things in preparation after finishing my last meditation.
I had to walk down to the river one more time before I headed home. It was even wilder then the day before. There was so much being washed away in the churning water- logs, branches, bits of debris. I felt like I too had washed away so much in my solitary retreat, and in the space that remained there was a fertile nothingness- the perfect space from which to create.
I lifted my face to the lightly falling rain and repeated the chant Ong Nama Guru Dev Namo- calling to and bowing to the Creative Conscious.
I thought about how I would integrate these experiences as I ventured from this dream out into the waking world. I walked up the slippery wet path that has been washed away in sections from the intense rain. The creek along the trail was now covering the trail unapologetically. It rushed along as I do most days. I thought this was a piece of my answer. First, slow down. Then, Pay attention and Watch and Learn. It amazed me how so many answers could be found in the great outdoors and the deep inner worlds of our being. Both of which are true sources of inspiration and provoke creativity. My first call to action upon my return was to write this blog to share and preserve my experience. Believe me I have quite the to do list after this meeting with my soul, and some paintings on the way- I can feel that creative spark once more! -Taya