Rediscovering Dance

Rediscovering Dance
Healing with Movement

As children, most of us were encouraged to dance on a regular basis, freely and openly, in whatever way felt best. A few of us may have retained or regained our ability to engage in dancing unselfconsciously, but by the time we reach adulthood, many of us have stopped dancing altogether. We may have hang-ups about our bodies, or we may fear being judged. Then again, we may simply have fallen out of the habit for so long that we don't even realize we never dance anymore. Whatever the case, there's no time like now to rediscover the healing pleasure of moving your body to music—alone, as part of a couple, or in a group. Opportunities to dance abound, once you start looking for them.

If you haven't danced in a long time and feel too self-conscious to start in a public situation, find some time alone to reintroduce yourself to the joy of listening and responding to music with your body. Turn the lights down low and remember that it's much more fun when you're not thinking about what you look like. It won't take long before your body remembers how much it loves to move. Feel the music in your soul, feel the vibrations healing your body. Treat the time like a meditation session in which you agree to allow yourself to fully inhabit your amazing body.

If you feel awkward, remember that every culture since time immemorial has celebrated life and the body with dance. All people carry the memory of dance in their blood and bones. In other words, you were born to do this, it is in you already; all you have to do is start moving. If you prefer more interaction, take a class one night a week. In most cities, you can find everything from modern dance to African dance to ballroom and salsa. Whatever you choose, you won't regret choosing to rediscover your birthright—the healing, joyful thrill of dancing.








Connecting with the Divine

Forging a spiritual connection with the divine is the ultimate goal of many forms of worship. In our devotions, we transcend the limitations of our humanity using prayers, rituals, and invocations, or we seek the celestial in sacred items such as statuary, imagery, or natural objects. In the Hindu tradition, worshipers bond with the divine through the puja ritual. The purpose of the ritual is to create an atmosphere in which humans and spiritual beings can enjoy communion with one another. Though participants show reverence for their chosen deities, puja serves to bring the former and the latter together on an energetic level. Performing a puja ritual is thus a wonderful way to experience direct communication with the divine.

There are no limits as to whom may serve as the focal point of your puja. You need only choose a spirit guide to commune with and an object to represent them. Preparing for the puja ritual, however, can take some time, depending on the number of devotional acts you will perform. A classic puja includes 16 acts, including meditation, chanting, the reading of sacred texts, offerings of food and drink, and cleansing. You may also wish to present gifts of incense, flowers, and jewelry during the ritual. An altar or table covered by an altar cloth provides space for the representation of the divine and the seat of the puja. To begin, prepare your offerings and place them to the right of the altar. Then center yourself and release any stress you may feel葉he puja is meant to be a joyful experience. Typically, the ritual begins with the ringing of a bell and an invitation, and progresses from chanting to the cleansing and dressing of the deity to the offerings to meditation. You ca! n modify your puja in any way you wish.

Though the elaborate puja rituals performed in Hindu temples take place at sunrise, noon, sunset, and midnight, puja performed in the home primarily takes place in the mornings and evenings. When your intention is to invite your spiritual guides into your home and heart, however, the time of day matters little. With practice, you will create a direct path to spiritual oneness that allows you to experience an amazing sense of closeness that reinforces your connection with the divine.







Magical Things
Tangible Enchantment

Though the universe as a whole is imbued with an undeniable aura of magic, we can further fill our lives with magic by creating a collection of magical things. More than being simply beautiful, such objects can potentially play an active role in the shaping of our experience as each magical object serves a unique and multifaceted purpose. Some inspire us to reflect while some have the power to positively influence our moods. Others take us back in time, capturing in their essence memories locked in history or helping us reaffirm our connection with the universe. Magical objects can be found almost anywhere and can be practically anything, from gifts of nature to manmade artifacts. You?l know an object is truly magical when it touches you deeply, awakening some primal part of yourself that is more profoundly connected to the ethereal.

There is no right or wrong way to introduce a magical object into your life?he collection you create can be large or small, kept in private or publicly displayed. You may already be in possession of such objects. Perhaps you keep a smooth river stone next to your bed because its presence is soothing. Or you find yourself intensely drawn to certain antique items that seem to radiate light and energy. Whatever the nature of the objects you deem magical, there are many ways to utilize them. Those that help you reach a contemplative and relaxed state may best serve their purpose on your personal altar or in some special place in your home. Objects that bring you comfort can be kept in a small pouch and carried throughout the day. Or you may feel compelled to infuse your collection with beauty by making it into a collage that naturally draws your eye and stimulates your soul.

Everyone can benefit from surrounding themselves with magical objects. Our lives are made just a little more light and fun when having magical things in our presence. If you feel you don? have anything magical in your life, ask the universe for help, and it will not be long before a meaningful artifact, a simple feather, a special stone, or another powerful item reveals itself to you and fills your life with enchantment.






Knowing Better Now
The Past in Light of the Present

When we look back at the past, knowing what we know now, we often find it difficult to understand how we made the mistakes we made. This is because once we learn new information, it is nearly impossible to reenter the headspace we were in before we learned that information. And so we look back at parents who spanked their kids, for example, and wonder how they could have thought that was a good idea. Similarly, our personal pasts are full of mistakes we can't believe we made. We did things then that we would never do now, and this is precisely because we have information now that we didn't have, or weren't able to access, then.

From ideas about how to raise children to how to treat the environment, our collective human past sometimes reads like a document on what not to do. In many ways, this is exactly as it should be. We learn from living and having experiences. It is from these past actions that we garnered the information that guides us to live differently now. Just so, in our personal lives, we probably had to have a few unsuccessful relationships or jobs, learning about our negative tendencies through them, in order to gain the wisdom we have now.

In order to live more peacefully with the past, it helps to remember that once we know better, we tend to do better. Prior to knowing, we generally do our best, and while it's true that from the perspective of the present, our best doesn't always seem good enough, we can at least give our past selves the benefit of the doubt. We did our best with what knowledge we had. Beyond this, we serve the greater good most effectively by not dwelling on the past, instead reigning our energy and knowledge into our present actions. It is here, in this moment, that we create our reality and ourselves anew, with our current knowledge and information.

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