51 Things Your Spirit Can Do With Music

  1. Dance
  2. Hum
  3. Jiggle
  4. Tap
  5. Snap
  6. Jump
  7. Touch
  8. Sleep
  9. Make love (with yourself)
  10. Make love (with someone else)
  11. Dream
  12. Fuck
  13. Sweat
  14. Lie to yourself
  15. Lie to someone else
  16. Receive messages
  17. Feel yourself
  18. Relax
  19. Feel alive
  20. Change your mood
  21. Tell the truth
  22. Wander
  23. Discern
  24. Connect
  25. Redeem yourself
  26. Redeem someone else
  27. Forgive
  28. Die
  29. Weep
  30. Sink in
  31. Be Reborn
  32. Mosh
  33. Remember
  34. Relive
  35. Reclaim
  36. Stretch
  37. Hold
  38. Accept
  39. Walk
  40. Run
  41. Fly
  42. Breathe
  43. Heal
  44. Let Go
  45. Trust
  46. Giggle
  47. Wiggle
  48. Laugh
  49. Scream
  50. Adore
  51. Surrender

For the past few months I have been practicing 5 Rhythms- a type of ecstatic dance that connects mind, body, and soul (and heals them). This list comprises what I have learned through sweating my prayers.

 

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Why I Just Can’t With “Nebraska Jesus”

Not unlike a lot of people, I left my childhood faith when I went to college. I spent four years in high school devoted to Protestant Christianity – Presbyterian-style. I loved almost everything about my church, my youth group, my faith community. I felt connected and cared for by those groups.

Because of my church, I had great resources to turn to when I needed help- resources that were not my parents, which I was grateful for as a teenager. And I got to have fun and explore my inner world at an important phase of my life – I learned early to listen to my heart and connect with my soul.

But when I got to college, the god they had shown me –a god I accepted and deeply loved- was too small. This may sound funny because I come from a metropolitan city. (Or at least the suburbs of a metropolitan city.) You’d think I would be exposed to lots of things. But not really. And certainly not through my church.

My church (as I think most churches do) drew a very small circle around “Us” and “Things that Are Okay For Us.” As I learned when I got to college, a lot of life was outside that circle. The god inside that circle was pretty small, too. (Both by necessity and design, I think.) The god they offered could not describe or categorize all the things I saw when I went to college.

What I saw in the world included:

  • Couples of the same gender who looked just fine to me; not at all sinful.
  • Books like Lady Chatterly’s Lover and MAUS.
  • Ideas such as re-writing Bible stories from another characters perspective.
  • People having sex before marriage and remaining healthy (and maintaining healthy relationships).

Oh, the bogeymen of adolescent religious guidelines.

The god I was given in high school couldn’t hold these things in his creation. The boundaries of his creation was too small for what I saw, heard, and felt in my freshman year of college.

I needed a bigger god, but I didn’t know how to find or make one.
So I quit god.

 

Nebraska Jesus

I grew up with a Jesus that looked like this.

 

Traditional Jesus image from 1960s prayer cards.

 

Basically, he looked like my Dad and all the guys on the church softball team when I was six.
That creamy, smooth Caucasian skin.
The nicely trimmed moustache.
Willowy arms.
Light eyes.
The blondy-brown hair, cut long (‘cause that was the style in Judea, right?!?).

Basically, Jesus looked like someone from 1970s Nebraska. Or a member of ABBA. He obviously got his eyebrows waxed on a regular basis.

I remember feeling somewhat betrayed, but also calmed, when I saw a more historically and culturally accurate picture of what Jesus looked like.

 

face-of-jesus-01-0312-mdn

 

A man of Middle-Eastern descent.
Dark skin.
Dark hair.
Dark eyes.
A working, heavy, muscular body.

By the time I saw this image, I was old enough to realize that it was truer to the historical, actual human, Jesus than the Nebraska Jesus picture. I felt calmed because this was the Truth about the human Jesus. I also felt betrayed because the ‘real’ picture told me (again) that my religion didn’t really care about the truth.

They preferred to worship what was comfortable.
That which was recognizable.
That which was ‘like us.’

 

Truth and Religion (‘Cuz That Isn’t A Hot Mess To Get Into)

Now, I can’t really blame them- the designers of religion. We all do this. It’s so much easier to connect to things that are familiar and similar to what we already know. I get that. I sure as hell wish my path was familiar and easy and similar to something I already knew.

I guess what upsets me is, by using that picture, my childhood religion made god small. And instead of offering me a picture of Truth, they offered me a picture of Easy. And god is not easy. Nor small.

When I quit god it was – at least partly – because they hadn’t taught me that god was flexible and large. I had to learn that on my own. I don’t suppose the culture of any religion is really concerned with the largeness or flexibility of god. They just want the parts of god that work for them.

But that’s just not good enough for me anymore. Because it’s not the truth. Nebraska Jesus is nice (easy on the eyes, actually), but he’s not the truth. I prefer the difficulty of a Jesus who doesn’t look like me and a complex god, because I believe that is the Truth. And I am concerned with Truth.

If we don’t have Truth as a requirement or tool on our path, we have very little to work with.

 

Working with Truth and Its Difficulty

They mystical path is more difficult, but also more prized (IMHO), because we ask “what is the Truth?” we ask “Who am I?” and “What is God?” and “What is the Truth of Life?” And we don’t have any pat answers to trot out and make life easy.

These are tough questions. Complex, large, and frightening to many. What if the answers are different, bigger, or include more people, ideas, or technologies than we had imagined?

Ah, well, then we get a chance to glimpse the real God, don’t we?
God is bigger than all of it.

Even bigger than what I believe is Truth. (Which is painful to admit. I would also like My Way to be The Way.)

But that is the point, I believe.
To discover, over and over again, just how big, how utterly unknown God is to us.

I have no tidy way to tie these ideas together. Just to notice, and remind myself, God is complex. God is big. Vast. And there is no way around that. It is both frightening and comforting.

And it is the Truth (whether we like it or not).

 

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Good Friday for Mystics

Today is Good Friday. I’m mindful of it because I grew up in the Christian/Proestant/Presbyterian lineage. I am not much of a Christian (so to speak) anymore. But that’s another story…

Holidays – holy-days – in any religion are event markers. In the case of Good Friday, we mark the death of Christ. But holy days are also symbolic- they are days of intense focus on an important issue, idea, or practice. Yom Kippur, for instance, is a day of reflection and repentance. It is also a day to take stock of where one has been, spiritually and relationally, over the past year and make course corrections for the future.

Because holy days are symbolic they hold the potential for many things. All symbols are faceted- point them in this direction, they reflect light this way. Point them in that direction, the light reflects differently.

The symbolism of Good Friday is to let go. To let die what needs to die.
It is a day of surrender.

Even more than that, it is a day to surrender our suffering.
(This is a Buddhist-y perspective of Good Friday.)

The idea and practice of surrendering our suffering is pretty fucking important.

 

There is something we all suffer with. A psycho-spiritual thing that we grapple with.
It is also known as The Pain in My Heart or The Pain in My Head.
The fuzzy, tangled, bit we can’t seem to figure out that hangs around our necks and does not leave our mind at peace.

On Good Friday, it’s time to let go of that suffering, if only for three days.

Today, Friday, we take that suffering down from our internal cross and we let it rest.
We put the suffering in a safe, dry, sacred, dark space.
And we let it alone.

 

openhandsforlent This is how to let go.

 

One of three things is going to happen when you let your suffering off the hook of your attention.

1- It is going to turn into something else after three days.
(Maybe it will suddenly float away or become an opportunity or the suffering will learn to sit quietly.)

2-  We will see it differently.
(It may become a direction finder or we may be able to laugh at it or the suffering will turn a different color.)

3- We will have rest.
(At the very least, if you take down your suffering for three days, you get three days to rest. And three days of rest might lead to any number of amazing things. Or, just rest- which is amazing enough, yes?)

Today, my Good Friday practice is to let go of the suffering from not knowing the answer. This one problem, I can never decide- do I go this way, or that? And because I can’t decide, I suffer. I get stuck. I feel guilty and stupid. I’m going to let this one ride for a few days.

Good Friday is a time to take three days off from your troubles. Not to figure them out. Not to forget them completely. But to let them be still for a while.

Sunday, you can peek in on them again.
But- I’m willing to bet!- you’ll find something different when you go to take them back.

 

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Here I Am: ‘Turned-On Female Mystic’

This weekend I had the most serendipitous experience ever: I found my name.

And it is this:

FemaleMysticPage

I found it reading Sera Beak’s Red, Hot, and Holy.

In all honesty, I was scared to read her book. My Inner Critic had been telling me it would be painful to read, because if I had started this blog three years ago – like I wanted to – then I could have been her. My ideas out there, helping people, finding community.

But, the Inner Critic just loves to push my ‘What If’ and ‘Be Perfect’ buttons. It’s very good at trying to protect me and keep me safe by unskillful means. Unskillful means called ‘Stay Here in the Pain, Because It’s Known Territory.”

We cannot live by ‘What Mighta Happened,’ now can we? So I got all courageous and decided to read the book. And what I found is not a competitor, but a sister. 

 

She and I are turned-on female mystics.

She calls us ‘Redvolutionaries.’ I call us ‘Alchemystics.’
Same diff.

We have both found this out:

A definition of the female mystic and the divine feminine.

We’ve travelled slightly different roads. I am traveling the spiritual paths of ‘marriage’ and ‘parenthood’ and she is not. She travelled further in academic studies than I. Nevertheless, we are sisters on the female mystic path.

Reading the book has felt like a homecoming. ‘Oh, you read that book, too!’ and ‘Yes, Catherine of Sienna is a soul sister…I know!’ and ‘Who doesn’t feel her sensual, beating heart inside Rabi’a’s poetry?!?’

Actually, it wasn’t a homecoming. It was like meeting someone at the same rock concert and realizing you have a lot of the same tastes and experiences- and then smiling at each other like crazy-fools when you feel the music pulsing through you. We’re at the Mystic Tent and rocking our souls out.

Hanging out with the Divine can be a giant party of sexy, soulful badassery, and you get a Back Stage Pass to my spiritual adventures here at TheNakedMystic. I hope you’ll find a kindred spirit (or three) here, like I have with Sera.

 

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Wake Up and Be Alive

I have figured out one more piece of the puzzle for keeping to the soulful path.

To Start: Wake Up

Wake up.
Spend a few minutes in gratitude that you actually woke up.

Breathe. 
Enjoy breathing. (Because what’s the alternative?)
The in-breath  -the first thing you did in this world- is so beautiful.

 

Then: Be Alive

Make a few minutes in your day and do whatever is necessary to find that place inside you – that feeling – that you are totally alive and centered. That you are the most you, the fullest you, the ‘fuck, it’s awesome to be alive!’ you.

Whatever it is that gets you there- dance, prayer, smiling, quiet time, doodling, kissing- do it.
(Don’t hurt other people, though.)

Then (the hardest part ever): hold on to that feeling.

Hold on to it as if you were hanging over a cliff and it was your only rope.
Don’t let go.

As if the love of your life was dying and this was the cure.
Protect it.

As if it was the sexiest person you know smiling and leading your toward their bed.
Fall into its arms.

Hold on to that feeling as if it was a bright, blinking light from God’s saloon that said “You’re in the right place! Come on in.”
Belly up and drink it in.

If you lose this feeling, find it again. Over and over, as many times as are needed in any given day. 

Build it like a muscle.

Don’t let the daily bullshit drag you out of the feeling.

If the external bullshit gets you down:

  • make boundaries (say ‘no,’ say ‘goodbye,’ don’t go there mentally)
  • change your mind about X problem
  • do whatever it was that got you to the feeling in the first place
  • call someone who knows your alive self and ask for help

 

If the internal bullshit gets you down:

  • go to therapy/find a way to heal
  • pray
  • ask for help/get support to change
  • do whatever it was that got you to that feeling in the first place

Do whatever it takes to stay with that feeling.

Because it is your soul, being alive in your body.
And that’s what we’re here for.

 

 

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