While brief bursts of inspiration can reignite our commitment to our spiritual journeys, many of us are challenged to sustain the same level of enthusiasm over time. Why is this? I recently asked about 40 people in a journaling workshop I facilitated what barriers they have encountered in using writing as a spiritual practice. Their answers, while focused on writing, were identical to the types of challenges I commonly hear people in my interspiritual coaching practice express as challenges on their spiritual journeys: 1) self-judgments, 2) not having enough time for practice, and 3) lack of clear intention.
Kristen Madrid and James McDonald have had a lifelong interest in the metaphysical and spiritual tools for healing practices, and their shared passion has blossomed into Saline’s first and only mind, body, and spirit shop: Earth Elements. At their store on Michigan Avenue in downtown Saline, you’ll find everything from crystals and gemstone jewelry to loose leaf teas and Reiki healing services. Together, they have created a one-stop-shop for self-exploration and spiritual connection. Stay for a cup of their “tea of the day”, and you will find it is also a wonderful space for relaxation and taking a much-needed break.
Many people today are attracted to the world’s indigenous cultures, sensing these ancient ways touch the enigma of the soul which is so fundamentally lacking in mainstream society. Yet there might be a blind spot in this approach to ancestral spirituality, one that became apparent to me while living alongside indigenous elders for many years. Helping to unite this gap between worlds has since become my life’s work.
I posed many similar questions to different spiritual leaders in our community in an effort to educate myself about the Ann Arbor goddess scene. They all recognized the dominant masculine energies which pervade our society and still they were hopeful, funny, erudite, and, most importantly, wise. They helped me see that I wasn’t confused, but that the grander cosmos was unaligned.
At the end of a silent meditation retreat at Triple Crane Monastery, we often hear that people experienced many kinds of benefits such as: increased flexibility, increased energy, a reduction in stress and anxiety, a feeling of being more connected to their own senses, more happiness, a discovery of their innate abilities, more insight, and an increase in wisdom. However, some may say these are only the superficial benefits of meditation. Are there greater benefits from a truly deep meditation?
Do you have areas of your life where you feel ‘stuck,’ even though you’ve tried many ways to make changes? What lasting upgrade would you like to make in your health, finances, or relationships? Beneath every problem are beliefs, feelings, and often-traumatic responses with which we resonate unconsciously. When we resonate with what is positive, we spiral up; we’re able to access opportunities for change in a creative and self-empowered way. We feel confident in our capacity to handle what life brings us with clear thinking and an open heart. Basically, our system is energized by these positive beliefs and feelings.
ShuNahSii Rose is the creator of In Sacred Balance. Now in its 27th year, In Sacred Balance offers a model of a “sustained inter-generational feminist spiritual community” with deep Ann Arbor roots. The magic ShuNahSii creates is palpable and necessary, a healing balm for the soul of the world. I met her for coffee and to chat about her passion for restoring relations between humanity and other inhabitants of our world.
In my daily life, I have a rhythm that goes something like this: Wake up. Eat. Do some yoga. Work. Eat again. Work a bit more. Sleep. Repeat. There are some weeks where I am on autopilot, and miss the daily miracles and surprises. If my life becomes a rhythm of hour after hour, day after day, week after week of busyness like this, with no play and no time outdoors, I begin to lose perspective.
I became interested in Amma, an Indian spiritual leader, given the tremendous buzz in the international community about her humanitarian work. She is from my husband’s state in Kerala, India, and he has met her. My friends queried why I hadn’t met her. I felt my exploration of this mystical person was long overdue, but I wanted to learn more about this hypothetical saint before I was willing to meet her. When I started reading about her, I became overwhelmed. There was so much literature about her. My experience reading it was antithetical to her teachings of peace and unity; it was an information overload. Still, I stuck with it.
I reflect on my experience with learning mindfulness cooking and eating practice during silent retreats at a Zen Buddhist Sangha in North Carolina. I examined the concept of gratitude when planting, harvesting, preparing and consuming food. Although these times were for deep contemplative study and complete silence, there was a common language spoken around the kitchen counter and table that I call reverence.
An equinoctial night in 2016. It’s raining. The injured raptor birds, often used in educational programs, sleep in little wooden houses on the hillside. Community gardens and orchards await spring, leaves poised to unfurl and earth to be turned. It is the night of the salamander survey at Black Pond Woods.
To gain insight into how Zen practice impacts daily life, we asked eight Zen Temple practitioners, each in different stages of his or her meditation practice, the following questions: 1) How long have you been practicing Zen Meditation? 2) How does your involvement or meditation practice at the Zen Temple show up in your daily life?
Reverend Haju Sunim has been at the Ann Arbor Zen Buddhist Temple since 1982. She was ordained as a Dharma teacher in l984 and as a Buddhist priest in l993. She hails from Vancouver, British Columbia, where she was born in 1944. In her early 30’s, she lived in Toronto, where she unwittingly joined the avant-garde of her generation, taking yoga classes and seeking new paths.
By Rachel Urist | Photos by Susan Ayer
Cantor Annie Rose will retire in July 2014. By then, she will have been the cantor at Temple Beth Emeth (TBE) for twenty years. She has trained countless bar and bat mitzvah students and created and conducted the Temple’s adult and youth choirs, Kol Halev (Voice of the Heart) and Shir Chadash (New Song).
By Richard Gull
Fifty years ago the human potential movement started at Esalen. That same year, 1962, The Port Huron Statement of Students for a Democratic Society appeared, a political manifesto challenging a new generation to live authentic lives in a participatory democracy. I attended both 50th anniversary celebrations in October 2012. I had taken a class on memoir writing at Esalen two years earlier, in 2010, six months after my wife, Sara, died of cancer.
By Rachel Urist | Photography by Maureen McMahon and Joni Strickfaden
Over the past seven years the Interfaith Center for Spiritual Growth has emerged on the Ann Arbor scene as a vibrant place for community events and a dynamic alternative to Sunday worship. Many have discovered the Center by attending one of their public music events, such as engagements with Kirtan singers Shantala or their Café 704 concert series featuring some of the area’s finest musicians. Others may have visited because of their calendar of speaking engagements with popular authors like Judith Coates or Rev. John Mundy.
In the wonderful Dr. Seuss books that narrate the adventures of The Cat in the Hat, we are introduced to the Cat’s helpers named “Thing One” and “Thing Two.” When he wants to create maximum mischief, the Cat brings out these two little guys. And do they know how to party! Their antics can go on for numerous pages, involving all sorts of outrageous projects, which always lead nowhere.