Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Monday, 17 February 2014

Back to the Garden: Weaving a Meditation Practice

Raven is finished. Here's the front of the tapestry:

I prefer my tapestries to look as clean on the back as the front. (Rather like the way I prefer people-the face one presents to the world should not be radically different from what arises when one thinks no one else is watching.)

The completion of this work left me with no more excuses to avoid working on "The Garden," the tapestry I abandoned, in the summer of 2009.  (Time flies when you're having experiences.)  Yesterday morning, I gathered my tools, yarns, dusted off the loom, found my seat and began weaving.  This is where I left off:

The dotted line along the cartoon marks the halfway point of the work, so I have some distance to travel:

Starting over was interesting.  Not only have I been blocked from this piece, Fear was sitting there, too. Fear arose as soon as I began weaving; if I was to continue, I had to have a plan to deal with it. It's also important for me to respect the limits of my physical body at the moment (and tapestry weaving is notoriously hard on the body), so I spent some time thinking of the best way to approach these issues while weaving again.  I decided to use this weaving as a meditation practice.  I set a meditation timer for twenty minutes, weave with full attention for that time and when the bell sounds, I stop. If that is all I can weave for the day, that's fine-it's twenty more minutes of weaving than I've done in the past five years. Here is where I am today:

As usual, Mick the cat is there to guide me.  Can you see him?

What strikes me most about this tapestry is the vibrancy of the colours I dyed and spun. These are colours I love; these are colours I used to wrap myself in.  The past few years have seen a shift to neutrals, which are lovely in themselves, but somehow, not "Me." Maybe, just maybe, this weaving will take me back to that Garden of colours that sing to me, the colours that vibrate my Heart Song. We shall see.


Friday, 14 February 2014

The Truth is Out There (But It May Not Be What You Think): Learning to Unlock Our Beliefs

I've been watching The Pyramid Code on Netflix, in which scientists and wisdom keepers challenge the conventional belief that the Pyramids of Egypt and other Egyptian artifacts were designed as tombs and for worship.  The documentary makes a compelling case that these great structures were designed and built by highly advanced beings with sophisticated knowledge of energy systems using aquifers, constellations (including and especially Orion, Leo, Sirius and the Pleiades) and Earth energy lines ("dragon lines," according to Chinese wisdom).  There is some indication that these systems were built as sound (as in "hearing") energy healing systems, which makes the evidence all the more fascinating.

In the documentary, Carmen Boulter, who at the time of the film was connected with the University of Calgary, disputes our belief that we are the most advanced, sophisticated civilization of Earthly times.  She and others assert that there were far more advanced peoples long ago, with knowledge and skills long lost to us.  One of the segments refers visually to the concept of cylical time, in which, as many Indian scriptures state, we are currently living in the darkness of Kali Yuga, when the cycle of humanity and time falls apart before we move again towards a Golden Age.

What was most interesting to me was not whether the claims in the documentary are true. What caught my attention were the repeated statements that if we continue to cling to our conventional ways of thinking about civilization, time and progress, we are likely to miss what is right in front of us. These scholars assert that it is preposterous to think that the pyramids were built by slaves using ropes to haul massive stones up an incline and fit those stones so precisely that we marvel at the skills we cannot duplicate today, even given all our technology.  They tell us that, when we cannot admit that our perspective of time and advancement is incorrect, we have no hope of finding Truth. It would serve us better if we released the beliefs which bind us and prevent us from Seeing.

I am learning this lesson on a much smaller scale.  Like many yoga aficionada, I belief that yoga asana and meditation practice are beneficial to everyone, especially if one doesn't "go for broke," and push the boundaries of either asana or meditation before one is ready.  This week, my physiotherapist has pointed out that my belief about asana is not necessarily true and that it certainly isn't correct for me right now.  While the stretching involved in asana is beneficial to most bodies, even the mildest of asana involves many contractions in the muscles.  At the moment, I must avoid as many upper body muscle contractions as possible, which means little or no asana for me.

The lesson is a good one, but very difficult to practice, even given that I'm more drawn to the philosophical side of yoga than the physical plane. My research confirms what my physiotherapist tells me. (I especially like the iTunes app, 3D Yoga, which shows the muscles which lengthen and contract in various asana. It's free and informative.) My instinct is to ignore what is right in front of me and in my body.  I like to move in my practice.  I believe that the physical aspects of yoga will help me heal, but I have to accept that a physical practice does not serve me Now.  If I open my eyes, my heart, my mind and body to what I've been shown, I will find other ways to heal and yoga asana will open to me again, more quickly.

We all have these moments of locked beliefs, times we Know something, which, in reality, may or may not be true.  The next time you stumble upon one of these locks, these blocks on your path, ask with an open heart, "What is this?"  It may be that your Truth is not quite what you thought it was.  Opening your eyes to new possibilities will prevent you from ignoring what is right there, in front of you.  It may show guide you towards a hidden, obvious path.

"What is this?" Can you guess?

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Cruisin' On a Sunday Afternoon: A Special Kind of Friendship

C. and I met when our children were small, on a day when she came to borrow some spinning equipment from me.  She was on her way to her first session of a spinning programme which would inspire her work and her life.  As it turns out, she quickly became an inspiration for me.  Years later, she still is.  We have travelled together, swapped child-rearing stories, spent many, many hours talking fibre and spinning techniques and just generally hanging out.

It's an unusual friendship, in many ways.  Where Ms. C. is methodical, I am not.  She lives in a beautiful home which she and her husband renovated and decorated to perfection.  I live in what one friend described as a "not quite grown up house."  She wears pink and furs and exotica; I am not so fond of pink and I tear around in blue jeans and yoga clothing.  Our spinning habits and tastes are night and day-she is currently rearing her own silkworms, the culmination of years of study and travel in which she's learned to reel silk from cocoons in exotic lands.  Her work is fine and exquisite.  Whatever she makes is perfection. I am all about free form and what calls to me in the moment.  As the years pass, my spinning and weaving becomes more relaxed, bordering on sloppy, as I experiment with this and that.

And yet, somehow, these differences between us only serve to strengthen the friendship.
We disagree on our approaches to art, but we are linked by the belief that whatever we are doing right now is something that we must do. Fibre art holds and heals our spirits; it has bound us together for decades.

We made a pact at the beginning of this year, to meet once a week to weave together.  C. has used most of her hand spun yarns for knitting; weaving is a new adventure for her.  As is her style, she has jumped in with both feet/hands.  She has decided to weave carefully planned miniature cut pile rugs, woven of her hand spun silk yarns, on warps sett so fine I can barely see the threads.  I've been weaving tapestry off and on for years.  I use whatever yarns I've spun and have hanging about the house to weave the tales that come to me in dreams.  We've already broken our pact a few times this year-well, I have-but we met today for an afternoon of tea and jibber jabber (again, mostly from me) and a fine time of weaving. Here we are, separate, but together:

C. took this one as I worked on my Raven tapestry:

I like this one.  It captures what I feel when we are weaving together, a solitary soul, working in harmony with a kindred spirit, alone in the world, yet together:

So, thank you, friend, for the lovely afternoon, on a bitterly cold winter's day.  May there be many more.


Friday, 7 February 2014

Spirits in the Material World: What Raven Sang to Me Today

"It's a Journey, not a race.
Along the way, we are meant to sing and dance, find our place."

For a woman who thinks she's not suited to teaching asana, I've been doing a lot of just that this past two weeks.  Somewhere around the fifth class this week, the thought occurred to me that I am practising Sarah's advice (although I can't say it's been intentional): "The practice which attracts you least is the practice you most need."  I'm not sure I entirely agree with this, but subbing for honoured teachers is certainly intimidating and I'm all for tromping on a new path from time to time, just to see where it leads me.

At the very least, a hectic schedule early in the week leaves me all the more grateful for a day to myself.  Mr. DD headed out to play hockey this morning; I had the house to myself (with pets), so at 9 a.m., I set my loom on the kitchen table.  Mickey settled himself in his usual supervisory spot and I began working.  This is the tapestry at the start of the day:

Here she is, six hours later:

Raven is not quite finished, but the piece is halfway there.  (The resident critic tells me that this isn't a Raven, because the lump on his head isn't big enough.  Someone may end up with a lump on his head.  I promise to provide said lump as mindfully as I can manage.) There are things I would change, if I was weaving something more than a sample, but I'd rather keep going forward than tracking back. Besides, Raven tells me that what I'm weaving isn't about this piece.  No, Raven is guiding me to a switchback, whether I want to go there or not.

There's another work in this house, another tapestry about a Spirit Creature in a Garden, a piece full of colour and symbols and fire.  That piece was abandoned years ago when it turned out to be the last tapestry I was weaving before I was called to deal with other aspects of my life which required more attention.  I lost the heart to work on her, so there she sits, waiting for the time when I felt strong enough to venture back to The Garden. I haven't been able to walk past my fears on this one.  Instead, I wander up to that big obstacle in my path, take a peek and retreat.

Now, something in me or the work grows impatient.  "It's been long enough; it's time Now. Finish what you started and move on. It's time to dance and sing another song."  Raven keeps calling, telling me to keep going, to walk up to that rock of fear, march around it, over it or blast through it, if need be. I'm not quite there yet, but Raven's voice grows louder and stronger. He will not be ignored. Perhaps, soon, maybe, I can soar with Raven over that rock and sing my own Song again.