The next two art journal explorations in my continuing journey through "The Sufi Book of Life- 99 Pathways to the Heart", by Neil Douglas-Klotz, deal with the opening and closing of our own boundaries. I believe most of us struggle with the setting and keeping of boundaries throughout our lives.
|Pathway 20, Contracting Boundaries.|
To be honest, when I sat down initially to read and collect images for collaging pathway 20, Contracting Boundaries, my thoughts and the images I chose, were decidedly dark. I had been experiencing feelings of hurt and was in the process of closing myself down, retreating to the safety of my cave in true Scorpio fashion to lick my wounds. In other words contracting my boundaries. I realize though that I needed to sit with those feelings and cry and get it out, to voice my pain to my Self so that I could clear it. When you stop and witness your emotions their power over you dissipates. I could sit with myself and just be my own best friend. As the author states "The first step to capacity is consciousness. Feeling a muscle (or capability of emotion or mind) precedes using it properly. Not-feeling ties up energy that could be used in service to the Real." So then I was able to get to the true meaning of this path for me and turn to the more positive, healing aspects of contracting boundaries. As Rumi's poem says...
"So your heart also contracts and expands,
Just like a bird needs to close and open
It's wings to fly."
To me my spiritual Self is very much like a garden, a contained, sacred space where I go to clear my head and heart. So my first thought was to make this page a garden refuge, A place that is beautiful, nurturing, and peaceful. Why recreate the reasons for going within? Rather focus on the positive aspects of contracting.
I covered the page in green tissue paper and contained the space with a border of brightly colored flowers. At the top of the page I placed an image of a machine, into it's opening are stuffed phones, computers, and all the stuff that is vying for our attention daily. A woman is cranking the mechanism to chew it all up. I love her mischievous yet purposeful grin. Below the machine is a woman in a yoga pose, serene, empty, and peaceful. A silhouette of another woman, clouds floating across her mind represents a visualization that I do, letting the thoughts of my mind float away.
To have a productive garden you need to prepare the soil so your seeds have a good growing ground. They need nourishment as they incubate, and most importantly, they need time. I go to this place within when I need to recenter so I can face they world outside with strength and a clear head.
|Pathway 21, Expanding Boundaries.|
After contraction comes expansion, pathway 21, Expanding Boundaries. I worked on these two pathways within 2 days of each other as I felt the need to feel both contraction and expansion dealing with my own emotions and thoughts. I am so glad that I did as it helped me to come to terms with things within myself that I was struggling with. Sometimes you have to let go in order to make room for other people, things, and situations to enter. So many times in my life I have over extended my boundaries in hopes that I would be accepted, appreciated, liked. But what I have learned is that I need to extend the hand of friendship first to my Self and honor my own boundaries.
This pathway explains that when we experience hurt a part of ourselves closes. We really don't want to go through that pain again so the shutters come up! That is why on this journal page I painted the background black so it appears as if the doors are closed. Problem is when we close up we shut every thing else out including new possiblities.
I loved the accompanying poem by Shabistari whose lines inspired the images on my page.
'I 'and 'you' focus light
Like decorative holes Cut
In a lampshade,
But there is only One light...
'I' and 'you ' throw a thin veil
Between heaven and earth.
Lift the veil and all creeds
And theologies disappear.
Where 'I ' and ' you vanish,
How can I tell whether I
Am in a mosque, a
Synagogue, a church
Or an observatory?
Night gives way to the light. A picture of an ancient Italian city with its cathedral in the distance, another domed religious building to the side. Is it sunrise (opening) or sunset (closing)? I hung a light, pierced with silver Mylar beneath to reflect light.
The energy is radiating, a gradual expansion like the light in the sky. I stand in the center of this light and expand outwards though part of me I will keep contained so that I am always caring and honoring myself. Sometimes the bird needs to rest and it's wings are pulled tightly around itself. Other times it extends it's wings and soars into the heavens.