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offering

every time i experience something that i have nervously anticipated, or even feared, it is always better, easier, simpler then i imagined it would be.

this weekend i attended my first sikh retreat. i felt nervous before attending, but by the end, completely at ease. the whole time i felt like a sponge, absorbing everything that was happening around me. although i had questions come up, it felt right to simply be as present as possible, to remain open and flexible as things unfolded.

i quickly discovered how essential surrender would be. before the retreat i was not eating grains, so at the first meal i asked to not have any rice. however, the dhal required the rice to be absorbed, and in this way, stay on the plate. my request prompted the sewadar to ask for a bowl from the kitchen. there was a line up behind me, and immediately i said, ‘no, i will have rice.’ i realized then how important it was to me that i not receive special treatment of any kind. after that initial experience, i committed myself to receiving everything as it came, food and all.

there was, however, never any question of welcoming the blessing of prashad should it be offered. although i had so many amazing experiences this weekend, receiving prashad was the single most important one for me. it felt completely perfect to experience this for the first time in that space, surrounded by these beautiful, powerful women. i felt safe, blessed, united to Waheguru and the sangat. i will never forget that first taste. in a way it stood in for the entire experience, in that the whole weekend was an offering that i was blessed to receive.

in the mornings we woke up at 3am in order to be prepared for simran and nitnem from 4am – 7am. this time helped me to appreciate why sangat is so essential to this path. everything felt easier. suddenly i wasn’t just waking up for myself, doing nitnem for myself, practicing simran for myself. suddenly, my choices and energy and spirit was intertwined with everyone around me, and whatever difficulty i’ve had motivating myself to maintain this practice on my own, vanished. there was never a question of being there during this time, and of giving myself as fully as i could. i felt so hungry for it – like a thirsty little plant, i didn’t want to leave the stream we created together during those mornings.

as the days progressed i felt more and more open. more grounded. less shy and more able to share my story. it felt like the longer i was there, the more others were able to open up towards me as well. i can imagine it must have initially been strange to see me there – and i appreciate so much how welcoming everyone was. i especially want to thank the women and girls who, during the first couple of days, came up to me and reached out by saying hi, and sharing their own stories. i feel like they were these little islands i could go to whenever i was feeling a bit unsure of myself. by the last day, i felt like the entire group and space had become my island – a safe place where i could land, and from which i could launch back into the world come monday.

on the third day we had a session on true beauty. i felt really humbled by the courage of the women and girls around me – pushing back against normalized ideas of beauty, and embracing their bodies as God made them. i especially want to acknowledge those women who do not alter the hair on their face. you are a powerful example for all women of the courage that is possible when we dare to accept our bodies. this session helped to reinvigorate my own commitment to loving my body just as it is, without alteration.

on the last night we had a talent show. my group performed choreographed movements to the poem below. it wasn’t until afterwords that i realized the significance of the fact that we had five women in our group. in a way, i feel like we all stood in for the Panj Piare this weekend – initiating each other into a deeper relationship with Waheguru, and through each other, the sangat as a whole.

five women

five women
joined by God
from places
near and far

sisters, yes
but also more
and less

more because
we’re humans
students of
the Guru all

less because
different pasts
and futures
upon our
bodies fall

but in
this space
we seek
another way
to be

a bigger
fuller means
to navigate
between

the challenges
that mark
a life
whatever is
the path

though blessed
we are together
to be in
Guru’s panth

THANK YOU TO ALL THE KAURS THAT I MET THIS WEEKEND!!! YOU ARE ALL POWERFUL, INSPIRING WOMEN AND GIRLS AND I AM TRULY BLESSED TO KNOW YOU!!!

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