My butt, January 2009

My butt,  January 2009
(who could miss it)

My butt, January 2010

My butt, January 2010
photos by Tom Peal

Welcome to You and All your Brilliant Parts!

In 2009 I lost 40 lbs and I got a new butt. How? Diet and exercise, that's the short answer. But all of the things I learned that made it emotionally possible, that allowed me to succeed when I had failed before - that will take longer. This blog celebrates the intelligence of the body. Please leave me a note to let me know what you think of this writing, if it's been helpful. I welcome your input and experience.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tuning the Lute: Rituals to practice now and during the fast

There is hidden sweetness in the stomach's emptiness.
We are lutes, no more, no less.  If the soundbox
is stuffed full of anything, no music.
If the brain and the belly are burning clearn
with fasting, every moment a new song comes out of the fire.
The fog clears, and new energy makes you
run up the steps in front of you.
Be emptier and cry like reed instruments cry.
Emptier, write secrets with the reed pen.
When you're full of food and drink, an ugly metal
statue sits where your spirit should.  When you fast, 
good habits gather like friends who want to help.
Fasting is Solomon's ring.  Don't give it
to some illusion and lose your power,
but even if you have, if you've lost all will and control,
they come back when you fast, like soldiers appearing
out of the ground, pennants flying above them.
A table descends to your tents,
Jesus' table.
Expect to see it when you fast, this table
spread with other fod, better than the broth of cabbages.
- Rumi, enlightened Sufi scholar and teacher, 1207 -1273
From 3Days to Vitality, Pamela Serure, 1997

I'll start my pre-fast on Sunday, March 28, in preparation for my juice fast beginning March 31.

In Part Two of Serure's book, the chapter headings are:
- Establishing Some New Rituals
- Exercises for a Spiritual Journey
- Setting the Stage
- The Prefast 
Those of you who are following 3Days to Vitality and have read it know that Serure's program is as much about cleansing mind and spirit as flushing toxins out of the body.  While I have picked over her suggestions and have happily substituted some of my own practices, I have found her approach generally sound.  Since I've already written about how I see mind, body and spirit connected, you may see why her approach is logical to me.

Serure recommends that the faster take a vacation from routine practices for the three days of the fast, taking off time from work if possible, and start preparing for that vacation well in advance (as one would for any vacation.)  While the three days of pre-fast beginning on Sunday prepare my body for the juice fast on Wednesday, I will spend some time each day preparing my mind and spirit for the benefits of the fast.  I'm sure you know that fasting has a long history in spiritual traditions and most religions; I plan to take advantage of my hard work in every way possible.  Just as I have musical, career, and physical strength goals, I also have spiritual goals that take work.

Serure's discussion of ritual is interesting - growing up Southern Baptist, I was not taught any rituals past saying thanks for food (which I highly recommend) and everything that goes on in a church service, including those in conjunction with weddings and funerals.  Also, my protestant heritage predisposes me to wariness regarding what may be seen as pagan-inspired ritual, repetitive prayers, etc.

But considering the rituals many of us engage in without thinking about it (everything from a first fart in the morning to cursing terrible drivers to getting a drink just because I'm in a bar to birthday cake to starting sentences with "I'm sorry but ..."), there's a lot to be said for personalized, mindful repetition of an action that feeds us spiritually.

Serure's suggestions are both spiritual and physical in nature:  skin-brushing, conscious bathing, meditation, "the ritual of sacred silence," enemas.

I don't do enemas, though her discussion is somewhat compelling.

I'll be re-reading all of this - she ain't my guru, but she's got lots of value to think on and use.

Later, Jenni


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