What I am sharing with you today, my dear readers, is something that's very special to my heart. Something I have been contemplating on doing for months now but didn't find enough creative thrust to do it. Until, a week back.
I'm referring to my spiritual rock garden. Yes, that's what I call it because the desire to make something like this came from the need to create a harmonious, spiritual corner in my home. A corner where I could get away from all the distractions of the day and immerse in meditation and chanting.
You could also call it a 'nature table' because to make it, Pari and I essentially used our finds from nature – rocks, pebbles, pine cones, dried leaves and twigs, beach shells, fresh flowers, coconut shells. It isn't a coincidence really that our spiritual garden is made from natural elements because nature has actually been a powerful inspiration for me all through my life. Nature Tables are often referred to in Waldorf education that I so relate with in our home-school.
I have shared with you before that I am not religious by nature. But, what I truly resonate with is a spiritual means of connecting with the divine and with my higher self. Avie and I – ever since our marriage – have been chanting the mantras together – the Gayatri mantra and one other mantra given to us by a Guru. And, since last two years or so – a Buddhist mantra: Nam-Myo-Ho-Ren-Ge Kyo.
I came to know of this mantra through my dear friend, Chhavi, who in turn had received from her Indian friend in the U.S. Call it sheer coincidence or call it the synchronicity of our soul and destiny, in January 2010, Chhavi and I battled our toughest times when her father suffered a fatal brain haemorrage and my mom was detected with devastating heart problems – something that would require urgent surgery involving replacement of her heart valves, aorta and the root.
During this long, arduous emotional battle, Chhavi received a mail from her friend who shared with her his life experience about the power of this Buddhist mantra. She shared that mail with me so I could find a spiritual anchor in it. I immediately resonated with the story and read up more about this mantra. I decided to adopt this mantra as my source of sustenance to sail through that disturbing phase.
I have found that when it comes to faith, it has to come spontaneously from within you. No one can 'convince' you to follow this, worship that, go to this temple, that church. Unless, YOU 'resonate' with it, you will not feel the devotion or the 'shraddha' as we call in Sanskrit.
The same happened with me. This Buddihst mantra, by miracle, gave me the faith and conviction that I had not found until now in any other form of spirituality.
And, that morning, when mom was fighting for dear life, in the ICU for those 8 long hours, I was chanting the mantra – nonstop – in the vistor section of the hospital – oblivious of all the commotion around and the anxious faces eyeing me. I was sending my best positive vibes to mom, so her soul and body would garner the strength and to the surgeon in whose divine hands lay my mom's life.
All those days, Pari had watched me recite the mantra a few times a day and she started doing it with me. We both would sit in a quiet corner and together we would chant with just one goal in mind – mom's safe home-coming.
And safe did she come back home.
For this, I have my friend Chhavi, another friend – Vitoria and a few others to thank – for ever. The gratitude I have for them will stay in my heart for this lifetime.
This mantra – it has now become a part of our lives. We as family, recite it every day. Sometimes, twice a day.
And, this mantra picked up more subtle energy and conviction when we visited Dharamsala recently. It couldn't have been more interesting and divine that the day we reached Dharamsala, the same day, his Holiness – the Dalai Lama – landed to conduct his teachings at the Dalai Lama temple.
The next morning, Avie, Pari and I sat in the temple premises and chanted the mantra in the his presence.
In Dharamsala, we also came to know more about a Buddhist and Hindu prayer accompaniment called the 'Singing Bowl'. I had known about it earlier but not the philosophy behind how it heals.
The Buddhist Lamas of Eastern India (Manipur etc.) and Tibet have been using the singing bowls for hundreds of years in their religious and spiritual endeavours. The Singing Bowl is said to be made of 7 metals combined in a scientific proportion. The ancient ones also used to contain a tiny piece of a meteorite – to empower them with cosmic energy.
This alchemy enables harmonious sound vibrations when rubbed with the right wooden stick. The sounds have a relaxing and healing effect on the mind and body. When the bowl is touched or is placed on any body part, the vibrations massage the cells and release blocked energy. I have experienced that its sound is similar to the sound of 'OM' that is considered a vibration that unites the energies of the universe.
The singing bowl has been used in oriental healing practices by leading practitioners of Reiki, Chakra healing and such.
Avie and I have been reading about it ever since we bought it. We are also rubbing the bowl daily during prayer and meditation, along with Pari.
Singing bowl was not the only gift Dharamsala gave us. We also came away with some beloved collections from nature – fallen pine cones and some ravishing river stones. We have collected river stones and beach pebbles in the past but nothing as compared to these.
When we reached that river bed, now reduced to a creek due to the onset of winter, the beauties glistening under the knee-deep water sent us into a blissful frenzy. The beauty of that place was unparalled. It was as if we had reached the abode of the Gods. And, those colourful rocks – in pink, purple, green, yellow – as if were jewels that the Goddesses adorned themselves with.
We collected dozens of them. I knew we had to travel back. But, I had already made a mental note of how to carry them back home!
At that point though, I had no idea how I was going to use them creatively. I just had to have them so I could marvel at them every day.
Once home, the creative bulb struck! I knew I had to make my meditation corner using those rocks and all other beauties we had collected from nature over time – the shells, the pine cones, the dried leaves, the beach pebbles. And – the gemstones – that we had picked up in a gemstone factory in South Africa. For, I know rocks, crystals and gemstones have proven healing power.
So, Pari and I dedicated a morning to creating this – our spiritual rock garden!
Enjoy the photos. Wishing much peace, blessings, hugs and love to you my friends.
We made the rock garden in two iterations. First, we made it on a small Carrom board that Pari was no longer playing with. I painted it to get rid of the markings and laid out Pari's paintings on them and we created the garden on it piece by piece.
After couple of days, we realized that we needed a bigger space – to keep the singing bowl so it could be part of the corner. Realizing this, I decided to use the low square table that I was using to keep the books I wished to read for the week.
This table – I originally made it as a pedestal for my refrigerator. Talk about re-purposing and reusing… (winks)
So, the books found another table and we re-arranged our rock garden on this one.
At the centre of our meditation garden sat a copper statue of Buddha flanked by Ganesha on both sides.
The multi-coloured gemstones from South Africa – I think this was the best place to keep them to treasure and admire their beauty.
The wooden tortoise was a gift from my brother that he had picked up in Ladakh.
In the background, I hung a 'kalachakra mandala' poster and a beautiful poster of Buddha in rejuvenating blue (the curtains in this room are also blue that help filter the sunlight creating a ocean/sky-like ambience in the room.
I picked up this turquoise and coral Buddha pendant from the Mcleodganj market in Dharamsala.
Being a partial South Indian family, we use lots of coconuts in our cooking. I often save those shells for any art/craft activity. Now was the time to use. We filled them with rice for placing incense.
We used a burner to burn the essential oils and placed the scented floating candles in the small glass bowls filled with water.
This mattress was made by my mom for Pari when she was born. This is somewhat bigger than a cushion and is perfect to sit down in a meditative posture – in the 'gyan mudra'.
Our Ganesha in a relaxed posture – this was a gift from mom during her recent visit to 'Haridwar'.
Folks, we absolutely love our meditation corner, our rock garden, our nature table, our spiritual spa. And, our creativity spark.
Yeah – so many names. For, it is all of these – made with pure love and dedication.
What do you think? I would love to know your views and suggestions.
Here are some links if you want to read up more about a few things I have discussed above:
- On Meditation:
- A Manifesto for Meditation by Prolific Living
- Meditation: The First and Last Freedom – A Practical Guide to Meditation by Osho - I highly recommend this book
- A Manifesto for Meditation by Prolific Living
- Singing Bowls – A guide to healing through sounds – very insightful, authentic read.
- Buddhist mantra – Nam-Myo-Ho Ren-Ge-Kyo:
- How rocks and gemstones can heal
- Teachings of the Dalai Lama
- Nature Tables in Waldorf Homeschooling and Montessori Classes
Also, I would like to know what you consider your source of spiritual sustenance?
It could be tangible or intangible. It could be a hobby that you're much passionate about – like gardening, cooking, reading or writing.
The truth is – it should be something that unburdens you completely off your stress, of any distracting and disturbing thoughts. You should feel completely at peace when into it.
Other than that, have you tried meditation and chanting? If not, it's something worth including in your day's routine.
Looking forward to hearing from you. (sunshiny smiles!)