Creating a Sacred Space
Shauna and I went to Bali for a holiday. It was our first time to Bali and we just wanted to hang out and rest, do a little shopping and see the country. We had heard all the stories from our friends, how you have to barter for things and shop owners who wouldn't leave you alone. And that at the markets everyone was going to try and rip you off. Well we never experienced any of that. We found the Balinese happy and friendly. To us they appeared to be soft and gentle hearted people, who placed their Spiritual and family life first.
The majority of Balinese are Hindu and they place their spiritual lives above all things. Each house has a temple to the Gods and spirits of their ancestors; some are so large that they take up the whole top floor of their house. They fill each day with Spiritual awareness and at least 3 times a day the Balinese make a conscious connection with the Divine with offerings and prayer.
The streets were littered with little prayer parcels asking for blessings. In every doorway and place of business the blessing parcels where piled up. We could easily tell how desperate each shop was for business by how high their prayer parcels were piled.
When we landed in Bali, Shauna and I could immediately sense a change of energy in the environment, even just walking out of the plane into the airport. Bali felt calmer and more peaceful. It had a gentler type of energy, somewhat less frantic than where we live. Even though everyone drove their scooters as if there was no tomorrow, there was still this flow of life force that was neither pushed nor hurried. Life flowed through the present moment with no hurry.
It was only during our shopping sprees that this beautiful Bali picture began to change. There were stray dogs everywhere, eating the offerings and everywhere we looked there was plastic. Plastic bags and bottles littered every street, vacant allotments and creek. It made me wonder why indigenous spiritual people who have a deep connection to the earth don't seem to relate that holiness to their outer natural environment in terms of the introduced elements - like plastic garbage.
I have travelled through many Asian countries and the only answer I have is, that it seems when a society is focused on their inner Spiritual life, the people seem to lose contact with their outer reality. But the same can be said for the opposite. A Western society that is mainly focused on its outer reality seems to lose contact with their deeper inner reality. I wonder why we humans cannot have both. Then I realized that this is why the world is going through such deep inner and outer struggles for survival.
We all need to learn how to take the outer struggles and reconnect them to our deep inner need for happiness and harmony. It could be seen as Life's constant struggle between Being and Doing. In our Western society we value 'doing' more than 'being'. Things must be done, made, built, organised, and created. But in the Balinese society the emphasis is on 'being' connected to the Gods, the Divine inner Presence, and our True selves. So they place a greater importance on love, prayer, blessings, ceremony, music, dance and family ties.
I guess when you live at the base of 3 volcanoes, one that is still active, with the last eruption in 2002, your life takes on a radically different sense of importance, the same as if you where in war torn Africa or Iraq.
We Australians have so much to be grateful for, we are blessed with so much. I came back from Bali extremely grateful that I live in Australia and I was deeply thankful for what a clean and environmentally aware nation I live in. Even with all our rules and regulations it still is the lucky country. I must say to all Australians, well done. We do care and we are doing a great job at keeping our country clean and beautiful.
We can however, lose sight of how lucky we are. We forget how much of the world is worse off than us. We can easily get caught up in our own little problems and forget that we are in the top 5% of living standards in the world. In fact a report that has just come out places us second in terms of global living standards.
So I ask myself the questions, why are we so stressed out? Why do we suffer so?
My answer to these questions comes from how the Balinese live their lives. They place their spiritual life first, followed by family and friends. I read recently that native cultures spend half their lives in ceremony and play. So the perfect day would be 8 hrs work, 8 hrs sleep and 8 hrs nurturing our creative, spiritual aspect, yeah right!
When I was in a spiritual community living in one room for 5 years, I use to say, 'that the outer life was hard and the inner life easy.' Out in the world that seems to be in the reverse, our outer lives are very easy but to have a fulfilling inner life takes time and effort.
So many clients come to our clinic with stress related health problems. It wouldn't take much to change their lifestyle but people are very resistant to giving up all they have worked so hard for. Without all those possessions they struggle to define who they are. For some letting go of anxiety is often more uncomfortable than keeping it. At least they know their pain.
Giving it up often throws people for a short time into a higher state of panic. A void is created until the person is able to refocus or realign to greater and happier life experiences. Our suffering is so out of balance with what we really need to live a happy and healthy life. If you are clothed, housed, fed, transported, can read and write, with money in your pocket you are better off than 95% of the world population.
Each day Shauna and I take the time to sit still and surrender to what is, some people call it meditation. But it is really about giving our minds and nervous systems time to relax and heal. Healing happens 10 times faster when you are relaxed, not just the body but the mind as well. A very quick way to do this is simply to breathe deeply, softly and slowly. As you calm the breath you will relax and slow the brain activity.
Spending time each day with your true self gives multiple rewards. I like the statement that says, "Give God half an hour a day and He will give you back the rest of the day."
We in the West need to find a way of re-connecting with the Divine. Yes I am talking about God, Beloved, Holy Mother, Spirit, Presence, and Universal Consciousness, the Great beyond, and Cosmic Light. I don't care what name you give to a power of love greater than yourself but whatever we call it, there is a power far greater than our small minds. There is a place we can go for help; it can be as close as our own hearts.
But this Inner sanctuary won't just reveal itself without an invitation. We need to cultivate and nurture this sacred connection. We need to treat ourselves with respect and loving kindness. We need to protect and constantly realign to the love and peace that awaits within. Daily recognition of a higher self is all it takes to establish an awareness of our greater spiritual potential.
We need a Daily practice, we need to take the time to establish pathways from the inner to the outer and back to the inner world. This constant travelling back and forth will help our brains and hearts develop clearer communication channels. Our intuition will develop, our intelligence increase and our creative brains will help us become more open minded in our problem solving. We will begin to develop the Heart-Brain connection, opening up new pathways that will support us in times of crisis and suffering.
I would like to think that we will help create a beautiful world that naturally uses intuitive wisdom coupled with unconditional love. Maybe then we will be able to bring heaven to earth.
Article by Robert Kendall