April 7, 2010

What does The Divine mean to you? ~ Elle Potter

The word divine gets tossed around spiritual circles much the way namaste does in yogic communities. But what does Divine mean to you?

Religion is for people afraid of going to hell.  Spirituality is for people who have been there.

~ From a bumper sticker, as tweeted by a friend of a friend.

In a place like Boulder, there is no shortage of opportunity to experience way-out-there spiritual practices with a bunch of tie-dyed nut-jobs.

Was that too harsh?

Maybe that is the Divine Comedy at its finest; but does connecting with the Divine have to mean finding yourself through a multitude of spiritual practices, religious celebrations and divinations of holy-cow-are-you-kidding-me intervention?

Obligatory childhood flashback: Each spring when our mare was about to foal, my dad would sleep on a cot in the stall with her.  As she was about to go into labor in the wee hours of the morning, she would gently nuzzle my dad awake.  Dad would run to the house to wake me up, along with my sister and mom, to come to the barn and watch. These early hours of the morning were sacred to me even as a child. I rushed to layer sweaters over my jammies in anticipation of being one of few witnesses to the birth.

It always amazed me how sweetly the mare would wake Dad up. She did so just at the moment she needed his help and support. Dad has always said that it was in those nights that he most strongly felt the presence of God—through the mare’s reaching out for that help and support, exhibiting a deep faith in the love of those around her, in an effort to create a new beginning.

I sometimes refer to my early Sunday morning class at om time yoga in Boulder as “church.”  Together we always move, usually giggle and sometimes fall—but it is ultimately an invitation to share in that sense of community, moved by the inspiration of whatever it is that calls us.  I see students moving through the same flow of poses but expressing them in different ways.  That is the beauty of “church” for me—finding a way to project the inner workings of your heart outward, whether it is through angular, structured placements or through fluid, ever-changing movements.

From time to time, I find myself in a church-like situation.  I have sat through stand-up-sit-down-spectacles-testicles-wallet-and-watch Irish Catholic services (turned debacles) and way liberal all-faiths-welcome services where the keynote speaker openly discussed how his homosexuality brought him closer to the divine.  It never seems to matter what the faith, how awkward the words of a hymn might make me feel or how many times the hard-core members of the congregation make me roll my eyes—I always find myself so overwhelmed by the sense of whatever it is that draws that community together, that at some point in the service I am moved to near tears.

There is something within these communities that is inspiring love in some way or another and calling people to move with the flow of it.

While it may make me wildly uncomfortable at times to be in the midst of a practice I do not understand, do not agree with or simply do not relate to, at the very core of it there is a connection to something much more vast.

Last week, I sat in the third row at the Krishna Das concert.  At one point, I felt compelled to turn around and look out at the rest of the audience, discovering rows of people dancing, singing, jumping and laughing.  I smiled and thought, What a bunch of goofballs. But just as quickly as that thought passed, I realized I was gazing out into the crowd at a smattering of familiar faces I recognized as part of my community; people I love, people whose names I can never remember, people I have never seen, people in tie-dye, in expensive name-brand dresses and in hand me down saris.

Complete love and respect flowed through me in an incredible way—faith in those I love and a belief in something that was bringing us to celebrate a million possible new beginnings.  And while it did not bring me to express it in the same way as those who were dancing, I felt the same desire to be moved.

And it was most divine.

Elizabeth, or “Elle” as she is affectionately referred to, has catapulted herself into the yoga world. There is a beauty to the flow of Vinyasa where Elle finds herself riding her breath and connecting to a deep sense of artistic expression. In any seemingly mundane act, she has a knack of finding how it connects brilliantly with the greater pulsation of life. Elle reaches into her endless sources of creativity to develop fun-loving, easy-going, and ecstatic classes. Find more from Elle on her blog.

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