Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Art Festival Fun

Yesterday was a fun memorial day.  the idamorri (street chalk painting) festival was happening up in front of the Santa Barbara Mission and it's a big deal around here.  it's the thing to do on Memorial Day in Santa Barbara- lots of people come out to enjoy the art, music, food and beautiful surroundings.  in conjunction with this is the 3 day SCAPE show (Southern California Artists Painting for the Environment) just a few steps away in a beautful wooded creekside area and it's a fundraiser for Phoenix House (mentally disabled people).  I had 3 pieces in this juried show and got 1st place for floral/still-life for this painting-

and i sold this piece-

but the best part of the day was hanging out with my good friend lynn sharing our deepest selves while taking in all the festivities and also connecting with the many Santa Barbara artists that i have come to know.  it made me realize that in my 5 years here in Santa Barbara i have really become part of the community which i love so well and feel this is truly my home.  what a fun day~

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Portrait of India- Elephant Island- part 11

this i after my experience in the temple which transformed me.  somehow these first 2 pics got placed at the beginning rather than the end of the post where they should be.  nonetheless, if you'd seen me the day before you would agree this experience literally lifted my spirits.

this is actually the very last photo taken in India- we both left on a very high note!
boat ride out to island

greeted by monkeys

shiva and parvati

triple god of shiva- creator, sustainer, destroyer of life

inner sanctum/shrine of shiva's lingam penetrating parvati's yoni- symbol that they pray too.  i was frotunate enough to go into the shrine and chant aum's with several of the local people.  what a vibration in my mind.  

mother and baby monkeys saying good bye.

boatride back to mumbai

piano in our hotel lobby

our excursion to Elephant Island culminated my understanding of the hindu culture/religion/lifestyle because it was here that i had the most first hand experience of spiritual transformation that this path of enlightenment is all about.  like i said in the previous post Mumbai (Bombay) is, to me, the worst situation of pain and suffering and horrid conditions of humanity i have ever witnessed.  i was not in a position to photograph what i saw but you'll have to take my word for it.  even Senegal, Africa which i visited 11 years ago didn't compare to the tragic conditions here.  so when we set out to the island i was in a sorry state psychically.  upon entering the temple at the top of the mountain on the island i was embraced by ancient gods and goddesses of love, goodness and protection.  the temple is a series of rooms carved out of the rock and it's sheer size is incredible- the statues themselves are over 20 feet high, hundreds of years old and very detailed.  being in this sacred space did something to my nervous system and i went from feeling all the horrors in life to all the joys in a matter of 20 minutes. i think what really did it for me was that i was brave enough (i'm sure i am one of the few white people to have the guts) to remove my shoes and climb the stone steps into 2 of the inner sanctums where they pray to shiva's lingam.  for me it was about praying to the yoni of mother earth that shiva penetrates.  i was in this space once by myself and the other with a group of indians.  they were auming and i aumed right along with them and i GOT IT.  i felt the vibration of the sound of the earth- the root chakra travel up my kundilini path to my mind and it did something big to my brain which immediately calmed my nervous system and bathed me with peace and light!  in the shrine there was aromatic incense burning mixed with the sweet smell of jasmine that had been gifted as an offering.  the combination of all the sense stimulation added to the experience.
let me just end this portrait of India by telling you that when i went to Dakar, Senegal 11 years ago during the new millenium,after having studied african dance for 5 years, i had a spontaneous kundalini opening the very first night!  i thought i was dying and that experience took my entire being and my whole life and shook the contents of everything in my world upside down.  it ultimately led to my divorce among other major changes.  after Africa and the deep spiritual experience of dancing with the people within the sacred context of the dance, i could no longer danc african back in Eugene- it had become empty, rote and meaningless out of context.  it was then i changed my practice from african dance to a serios practice of yoga, though i'd been doing it lightly for 20 years.  it was during this time i read about kundalini and realized what that incredibl/awful/beautiful/mind blowing 3rd eye opening of death had been.  so, now after 11 years of purification and reinventing myself and my life i have culminated my kundalini experience with a completion through the immersion of the hindus- just as i did with the africans- it was the drumming and dancing and energy in the air that pulsated my being into that opening.  in India, my living experience of yoga in the conext of the people has somehow completed my study of yoga.  yes, i still practice and meditate on my own, just as i still dance african style on my own.  but i'm done with american yoga classes.
so now?  guess what i have discovered- Tai Chi!!!!!! I LOVE TAI CHI!  it is my new passion and obsession and addiction and i feel like it's building on what i've achieved in my body/mind/spirit wuth african dance and yoga.  thinking that with tai chi and my growing interest in all things chinese will perhaps lead to a future trip to China.
Thank you Mother India for all your lessons and beautiful gifts that i willa lways remember and cherish in the innermost chambers of my heart.  NAMASTE~

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Portrait of India- part 10 Mumbai

India- the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly in contrasts so extreme it blows your mind.  nowhere was this more evident than Mumbai, our last city on the tour.  Mumbai was hard for me, very, very hard.  from the moment we got off the plane i wanted to leave. i'm a country girl anyway and this city is more than just a city.  there are miles and miles of slums and masses of humanity literally piled on top of each other in the filthy, stinking streets.  i really didn't feel like i could last 2 days here and considered holing up in the hotel, rather than taking the excursion the 2nd day out to Elephant Island. at dinner the first night i asked our young waiter if he'd ever been out to the island and explained i was trying to decide whether to go or not.  his eyes lit up and said "i've never been there but i've heard about it from friends and hope to go some day.  if you don't go i will go in your place.  you MUST go".  okay, that made up my mind, especially since the hotel we were staying at which is one of the top rated in the world gave me the heebie jeebies for reasons i found out later that my intuition was picking up some very intense evil forces from the recent past which i can not reveal.
i was so glad i took the boat ride out to the island with it's cave temple statues.  the spritual high was so intense and helped me recover my mind and i got it about the extreme contrast of life in India.  the unimaginable conditions of life over there are so overwhelmingly harsh that the only way they can mentally survive is to develop an unwavering faith and belief in spirit.  i learned that they are able to detach from all the pain and suffering surrounding them by their belief in karma and people's states are karmic and who are we to judge.  the day guide for elephant island told me of horrors- dowry murders still taking place all the time,  the trains so crowded several people get killed by them everyday in Mumbai,  the list goes on.  yet, when we got out to Elephant Island and trekked up the steep stairs amidst vendors and incense and music and monkeys and went into the ancient cave temple with 20 foot high sculptures and i went into the shrine and aumed with the natives...... well, i walked out of there a different person.  and the amazing part of it is how quickly i went from one extreme to the other.  but the high of that experience gave me the strength to return back to the harsh city and carry on.  so, in Mumbai i experienced the epitome of India and felt the important role that spirituality plays in the lives of the people- it is their survival.

this is the laundry ghat.  people rent these spaces to live and do laundry for their living.

here we are in the hotel- another world completely

this is our suite

i will show photos of amazing Elephant island in next post~