happy monday, friends! i sure do hope that your week has started off great, as mine has. here in asheville, the weather is gorgeous, i feel focused, + thanksgiving is this week! yep, that good ole traditional american stuff-your-face holiday that i love is just around the corner. but, more on the holiday in a few days.
today is meditation monday – and it’s the last monday of november, so it’s the last week of native november as well. today, i’m thinking a lot about the word “spirituality” and how it relates to native americans… what do we have to learn from the native way of connecting to spirit?
well, first off, i have discovered that native people do not really focus on spirituality, or religion, or faith. what i mean, is, that they have no real way of talking about any of that. and that’s because they just live it. you see, native american spirituality is infused into every single aspect of life – rituals, traditions, beliefs, actions, etc. everything they do, they do with spirit – something that stems from their belief in the connectedness of all of life, from humans to animals to the earth. their beliefs and practices form a integral and seamless part of their very being.
this makes so much freaking sense to me. why do we separate our spirituality? why do we go to churches or have special services or close our eyes to pray or meditate and think that satisfies our spirituality quota? why do we set aside some specific time out of our week for our “religion” or “faith”. it’s just crazy, if you think about it. spirituality should not be something we do, but should be who we are, part of our being. then, we, too, could live a seamless, completely integrated life where who we are creates all of our actions naturally.
the native american belief that everything is sacred is the foundation of their spirituality. a belief that can be summed up in three words/values: respect, honor, and love. these are not words that are just spoken with empty meaning, this is how indigenous people seek to live – every singe day. from ceremonies, to family, to giving thanks for food killed on a hunt, to listening to elders, to going on vision quests, and so much more.
native americans live what they believe. all of life is worship. every second + every living thing is celebrated. every single breath is holy. and everything on earth has a purpose.
this is an especially meaningful belief to ponder tonight during the events taking place across the usa as i type this. tonight, a grand jury in st. louis, missouri, did not charge a policeman who shot and killed an unarmed black teenage boy back in august. the shooting took place in ferguson, missouri + has sparked protests (both non-violent and some violent) for the past few months. this decision to not charge the policeman has rekindled the flames of frustration and anger on the part of the citizens who want justice. and people are protesting all across the country. understandably.
it is in times like these, where i draw deeply from any tradition that teaches the equal worth of ALL people. right now, racism and the plight of black people to still have to fight to get their voices heard angers me as well – of course, in a way that i cannot truly understand firsthand. but, the fact is, a young black man and a young white man walking down street are not treated in the same way. one is considered suspicious, and one not. white privilege is a real thing. and racism is still prevalent in the states today.
tonight, my heart is heavy. and i pray for peace and reconciliation. i pray for the day when we can truly see each other as equals, as sacred brothers + sisters. for the day when we take the words that we say and the beliefs that we tell other people that we believe, and actually align our lives so that what we say and what we do are exactly the same thing. i look forward to the day when we learn how to stop talking about what we believe, and live it.
for me, this is the heart of spirituality. it’s not just sitting in some corner every morning with candles lit, meditating + breathing deeply – though this is what i do and i believe that it is important. it is part of my spiritual practice, a ritual in my life, you might say. but, the heart of spirituality – the way that i want to live out my spirituality – is how i live my life from day to day, minute to minute. putting what i believe into practice. that is when my spirituality truly comes alive.
but, it all begins within. it all begins with who i am. my being. so, not only to i commit to spending time alone, nurturing my soul, listening to my heart, watching + observing nature, and learning to quiet my mind. but, i also commit seeking to be open… and letting everything that i learn become the essence of how i live.
I am going to venture that the man who sat on the ground in his tipi meditating on life and its meaning, accepting the kinship of all creatures, and acknowledging unity with the universe of things was infusing into his being the true essence of civilization. – Luther Standing Bear, Oglala Lakota Sioux (1868-1939)
do you have any spiritual practices? and by this, i do not mean that you have to be part of any formal religion. are there beliefs, rituals, ceremonies, etc. that are a part of your life… things that help you connect with your soul and turn inward, drawing on the Source that connects us all? share them with me below. i’ve love to hear!
I started taking this practical philosphy class and have tried to do an exercise every single day. It’s a pre-step to meditation. It requires you to sit still for a few moments ( I do it for up to 5 minutes) and call attention to all your senses. First your feet, then your clothes on the body (touch), smell, taste, breathing, the listening. It’s quite effective when done right (and this does take some time to accomplish) to quiet the noise of your mind and find the deeper connection within you (that lies within all of us). Oh, I’m so excited to be writing about this course in the future!
Great piece Liz. I love your spiritual posts. One of the ways I incorporate my spirituality into my daily life is by consciously seeing the people I interact with as souls. This helps me see the divinity in all of us and ensures that I give everyone the respect that they deserve.
Wishing you a happy turkey day! P&L, Lorlinda