Spirituality

ASANA IMAGE 2: Full Lotus

The second acrylic of my new “Asana” series has officially begun!

This is the second image in the acrylic images of the Asana series. It is a 30 x 30 – inch acrylic image that was begun live during my second attempt at live painting! The image was initiated at “Yoga After Dark” a monthly event conducted by Black to Yoga. I will be the resident “live painter” at these events so come check me out sometime soon. 

This image depicts Maureen from Moga Yoga as she prepares for deep meditation in the Lotus pose. Maureen is depicted in the more challenging “full lotus” position as opposed to the less challenging “half- lotus” asana. The seri yantra depicted behind her is a symbolic meditation symbol. The triangles in the center portion represent the power of the divine to manifest creation,. The graphic shapes just outside the triangles are graphic interpretations of lotus flowers which symbolize birth, life, renewal, hope…while the four points at each end of out square-like shape are indicative of the four elements.    

I have just begun the initial images for the watercolor portion of the series. Be on the lookout for a beautifully printed calendar you can purchase next year! 

Presenting my Research

I had the pleasure of presenting my research on aesthetics and discussing “The Beautiful” and its relation to creativity theory with the members of the PInole Artisans group last week. It was a real pleasure to present my research to a group of artists rather than a theological conference. I did some expounding upon a powerpoint deck and read an excerpt from my book, “When We Pray: 8 Meditations on the Aesthetics of Prayer & the Spiritual Life” (Balboa Press Books 2019). My presentation was well-received and I was invited back next year.



*To purchase the original, click on the image above.

**To purchase a giclee limited edition print click here



#fulllotus #yogaposes #blackyoga #yogaart

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My new series has begun!

My new “Asana” series has officially begun!

The image depicted above is the first piece to be completed in my new Asana series. The last time I reached out, I spoke about my intention to begin collaborating with the Yoginis who have formed the entity Black to Yoga – Maureen Miller, Kirsten Rogers, and Zenovia Forbes. 

This initial reaching out led to the completion of three sessions of photos shoots. I shot loads of reference photos for the coming series and completed some sketches for layouts. The images are HOT, and I have been so inspired that I could hardly wait to begin painting! 

The inspiration for the series hit me about 10 years ago. I had only recently been introduced to yoga by a former partner and I was amazed at how much my limited knowledge and intermittent practice had already begun to have a profound effect on me. At my partner’s suggestion, I borrowed her copy of “Light on Yoga” by B.K.S. Iyengar and then began sketching images of various poses I found in some photographic journals on yoga. Some weeks later, in the midst of a sketch it suddenly struck me, “Why aren’t you producing your own images and interpretations of these poses?” and from that moment on,  the fire began to burn. 

As any creative will testify, inspiration is more often than not- a fickle, fleeting, elusive thing. Just like a cat, it rarely comes just because you call it. The lightning of inspiration does strike but you never really know where or when. Hence the reason most of us rush to strike while the iron is hot. But this fire has been burning for almost 10 years!

Every time I wanted to begin working on the images, circumstances always appeared to block my way. I often spoke about it to yoga students and instructors who entered my studio – and some even offered to model for me. But for some reason, the timing and the offers just didn’t feel right. Something in my spirit would not find ease with those opportunities. but I still kept feeling inspired to work on the series. 

However, there is something to be said for waiting.  The deep inner knowing within us always makes its desires known at the perfect time if we are willing to patiently wait, watch, and listen. I now understand the reason(s) for the delay. My heart was in the right place, my intentions were noble and sound, but I lacked the knowledge, sufficient development in my own yoga practice, and internal maturity needed to pursue this project in a manner that would do it justice. Some things can only be learned and developed through trial and experience and I was simply not yet ready. We often don’t know what we don’t yet know.  Thanks be to Spirit for growth, maturity, and waiting!   

This is the first image in the acrylic images of the Asana series (there will be a much larger watercolor series as well). It is a 30 x 30 – inch acrylic image that was begun live during my first attempt at live painting! The image was initiated at “Yoga After Dark” a monthly event conducted by Black to Yoga. I will be the resident “live painter” at these events for the next 3-4 months so come check me out sometime soon. 

The initiated live painting with model Kirsten Rogers

The completed live painting with model Kirsten Rogers

There’s a lot going on!

This year opened with a bang and continues to keep me busy. I am joyous and grateful for the doors that Spirit has begun to open for me! In January I was able to move into my new studio space and begin getting myself settled in there.

February opened with my participation in The Art of Living Black 2019″ show and open studios, along with the completion of my first book When We Pray. I want to thank all who offered your support by placing a pre-order for When We Pray. Your patience during the order fulfillment process was greatly appreciated. I am a freshman author and I learned a great deal during the course of my publishing process. The insights have been a real blessing.

March began with a wonderful Grand opening celebration that was both a debut of my new studio space and my first book reading. Both portions of the event were well attended. The music was and refreshments were also outstanding.

April opened with the start of my 6-week workshop on a mind-body technique called Visual Journaling. The group is small but very committed. The participants are gaining clarity and wisdom from the technique and having a great time in the process! I also participated in the opening reception for my Solo show at the East Bay Church of Religious Science. The show will be up until April 30th – so feel free to stop by EBCR if you have time.

On April 28, I’ll be doing some live painting at the Oakhella Street Festival Season Opener! I have never done any live painting before so I am both nervous and excited to take advantage of this new opportunity. However, I am up for the challenge and grateful for another chance to expand my comfort zone. I plan to raffle off the painting I complete for the Oakhella Festival so make sure you come by painting space and pick up a few tickets ($5 each). You could be a winner! 

This May I would love to engage with you at my May 9th Workshop!
SEARCHING for BEAUTY: INSIGHTS on ART, AESTHETICS & PRACTICE
Thursday, May 9, 2019
6 pm to 8 pm

Abrams Claghorn Gallery
125 Solano Ave. Albany, CA

BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR MY NEW COLLABORATIVE PROJECT!

After 10 years of waiting, I will soon begin working on a new series of images on yoga. I have been talking about this project for 10 years and it has just not materialized. I applied for grant funding last year but my proposal was denied. However, Spirit has recently given me the go ahead and presented me with the perfect opportunity to work birth this series.

I will be creating a 12-piece series of watercolor images on yoga. The series will be in collaboration with the founders of Black to Yoga. Black to Yoga is a monthly yoga extravaganza created by people of color, for E-V-E-R-Y-B-O-D-Y! Their mission is to bring health and wellness to our community through the transformative power of yoga.

The founders of Black to yoga have graciously offered to pose as models for the series, and collaborate with me as sponsors of the series once it is completed. I am extremely excited about this opportunity and can’t wait to get started! 

Coming Events

SOLO SHOW OPENING 

East Bay Church of Religious Science
4130 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA
*The reception is free and open to the public 

Friday, April 5, 2019
7pm to 9pm

I will do some readings from my book When We Pray AND showing the images from the
When We Pray Series (along with some other works).

 

YOU CAN STILL REGISTER FOR MY APRIL 2ND WORKSHOP
If you are local, purchase your spot in my upcoming Visual Journaling Workshop.

VISUAL JOURNALING
The soul speaks in many forms. Visual Journaling helps us identify and name these messages so we can more easily identify which part of our soul is speaking. The manifestation of an image can often allow us to access and process experiences by deeply engaging both the body and mind in the effort. Visual journaling helps us hone our inner vision by expressing thoughts, feelings or emotional reactions as colors, shapes or images.

The Course
This 6-week course will explore the technique of Visual Journaling and the ways in which it promotes our own spiritual growth. Each week the facilitator will discuss aspects of the technique and then present an exercise focused upon a particular theme (love, joy, grief, pain…). Participants will be expected to complete additional exercises at home during the week and contribute to group discussions during the weekly meetings. The final meeting will be dedicated to the creation of a larger final piece that will explore the results of the process.

Maximum number of participants: 12 
     
Registration deadline: April 1, 2019 (10am)

Dates: April 2, 2019 to May 2, 2019  Tuesday nights (4.2, 4.9, 4.16, 4.23, 4.30 & 5.7) 

Time: 6:45pm to 8:15pm   

Cost: *$225 
Payment includes 6 workshops sessions, supplies for 5 of the sessions, and healthy snacks.

*1x payment that must be completed prior to 10am. April 1, 2019)

2 Scholarships are available.
To apply for a scholarship, or ask a question please submit a confidential email to: info@damonpowell.com

OTHER EVENTS

Preaching
7 Last Words Service
Corinthian Baptist Church
(550 24th St. Oakland, CA)
April 19, 2019
7pm to 9:30pm

May Workshop
Workshop on artistic practice & aesthetics
Abrams Claghorn Gallery
(1251 Solano Ave. Albany, CA)
May 9, 2019

YOU CAN STILL PURCHASE

WHEN WE PRAY: 8 Meditations on the Aesthetics of Prayer & the Spiritual Life

Content

The overarching aim of When We Pray is to explore the connections between prayer, meditation, art, and aesthetic experience in ways that are both insightful and practical. Each of the eight essays takes the reader on an exploration of topics such as the role of imagination in prayer and manifestation, the aesthetic aspects of enlightenment, the role of signs and symbols in the spiritual life, and more. As you explore these topics you are also invited to feast your eyes upon professional illustrations created by the author himself. When We Pray is a total package experience that features insightful, thought-provoking essays that are accompanied by beautiful, well-crafted imagery that supports the topics covered in the prose.  

Features
-When We Pray is printed in an 8.5 x 11, soft-cover format. The prose and the accompanying illustrations are printed with black ink on opaque white paper. Your copy will be autographed!  

-The cover illustration is a 7×10 limited edition, full-color illustration printed using archival inks and paper. Each print will be numbered and signed by Dr. Powell.     

TOTAL COST $25

Price includes the price of the book, the limited edition print, applicable taxes, along with shipping and handling.
To place your order, click here:  WHEN WE PRAY

**Please send this link to others who might be interested in this offer**

 

When We Pray Is Ready!

PLACE YOUR ORDER NOW!

*The first 350 people to place their order will receive a signed copy of the book AND a limited edition 7 x 10 print of the cover illustration (pictured above).  

WHEN WE PRAY
Eight Meditations on the Aesthetics of Prayer and the Spiritual Life

When We Pray Cover Illustration

When We Pray Cover Illustration – limited edition print

CONTENT

The overarching aim of When We Pray is to explore the connections between prayer, meditation, art, and aesthetic experience in ways that are both insightful and practical. Each of the eight essays takes the reader on an exploration of topics such as the role of imagination in prayer and manifestation, the aesthetic aspects of enlightenment, the role of signs and symbols in the spiritual life, and more. As you explore these topics you are also invited to feast your eyes upon professional illustrations created by the author himself. When We Pray is a total package experience that features insightful, thought-provoking essays that are accompanied by beautiful, well-crafted imagery that supports the topics covered in the prose.

*The first 350 people to place their order will receive a signed copy of the book AND a limited edition 7 x 10 print of the cover illustration (pictured above).  

FEATURES
-When We Pray is printed in an 8.5 x 11, soft-cover format. The prose and the accompanying illustrations are printed with black ink on opaque white paper. Your copy will be autographed!  

-The cover illustration is a 7×10 limited edition, full-color illustration printed using archival inks and paper. Each print will be numbered and signed by Dr. Powell.     

The Total cost for your PRE- ORDER will be $20
This includes the price of the book, applicable taxes, along with shipping and handling for the book and limited edition print

To place your order, click here
WHEN WE PRAY PRE-ORDER
or any of the underlined links above

THE AUTHOR

The Reverend Damon A. Powell, Ph.D. is an artist and theologian who currently resides in Oakland, California. Dr. Powell’s academic research and artistic creations focus on the intersections of art, aesthetics, and spirituality. Dr. Powell’s insights come from extensive research into a wide range of spiritual and philosophical concepts that have provided him with a deep understanding of the various ways the spiritual and the aesthetic interpenetrate one another. Damon’s artistic creations are the result of ongoing spiritual practices that provide insights that he births into visual form using color, line, and symbol. Damon’s mission is to give form to divine light through the manifestation of symbolic images that reflect on the myriad ways Spirit reveals itself within our daily world.

**Please share this link with others who might be interested in this offer**

Coda: There is Only Love


FINAL CHAPTER EXCERPT   

The publishing process for my book is moving along much faster than anticipated. The editing phase is almost complete. The final phase, publication should be well underway by mid-January. Look out for opportunities to place your order very soon. Below are a few selected excerpts from the concluding chapter, Coda: There is Only Love.

When We Pray VIII: There is only Love

 

When I began to download the initial inspiration for “When We Pray,” I had no idea that a series would follow. The initial inspiration came forth just as many others have during my daily practice of prayer and meditation.  I was sitting quietly, peacefully, feeling the warm and then cool pattern of my breath when I became of aware of a very distinct sense of presence all around me. It was not a sudden awareness but a slow, steady, building which seemed to reveal itself progressively as it became increasingly more distinct all around me. I’m not sure how long the process took, but it was a slow and deliberate revelation that became increasingly more palpable. I felt no fear, only an evermore confident sense of comfort, ease, and genuine care and concern for the issues I was offering up for divine assistance. I somehow instinctively knew that my inner voice was heard, that spirit was listening and was also compassionately concerned. As I poured forth my concerns, there was a gentle but firm sense of being held, or of being wrapped by divine hands and arms. That I was being stroked and soothed as a mother would her slumbering child. At the same time, I felt as if I was also shielded and supported. Then it suddenly dawned upon me that I was in God’s hands and that this was the place I had occupied every time I prayed, but I had only now become aware of it. This realization of being in enveloped within the hands of the divine resulted in the initial image of the series…

…As we are lifted-up by love we also lift and are lifted by others. This active web of relations lies at the heart of love and forces us to confront humanity’s dominant conceptualization of love. We conceptualize love as a noun, but love is and ever shall be a verb. Because love, like creativity, requires manifestation. Love must be made visible, or it is not authentic love. All our conceptualizing and imaginings about love are simply much ado about nothing unless they become expressed in the form of concrete actions expressed in daily life. These expressions undergird our need to “make” love, “fall in” love, “give” love, “welcome” love and actively experience it in all the myriad ways it can be given and received…

…From a metaphysical perspective love never ends. But it is often born, dies, and is resurrected within the context of our material human experience. If we would simply take the time to look within, listen to our souls, and set free the love already within us, we would surprisingly find more of it everywhere we look. But we often travel through life crippled and completely lacking the very thing we crave so desperately. Love is free for the taking if we would just open ourselves to receive it. So, let love flow to you and through you. Love has no beginning or end because love is all there is.

MY NEW COURSE
I have now begun the initial preparations for the creation of an online course that will expand upon and supplement the material presented in When We Pray. The course should be completed and ready for enrollment by the 2nd week of January. 

MY NEW STUDIO SPACE
On January 4, 2019, I will become one of the resident artists at Blank Page Studio. Blank Page Studio is a non-profit corporation dedicated to providing low-cost studio space for visual artists and supporting the visual arts in Oakland public schools. It is an honor and a privilege to share in the work of an organization that supports the youth of Oakland.  Be on the lookout for your invitation to my Grand Opening celebration!

PAINT PARTIES ANYONE!
As of January 1st, I will be working with Wine and Design – Oakland as a painting party instructor. Wine and Design is located in downtown Oakland at Jack London Square.  If you want to try something different, celebrate an occasion, or raise funds for your favorite non-profit we are the ones to call. Don’t forget to request yours truly as your party artist.

FINE ART INSTRUCTOR
My contract as a Fine Art instructor for 6-8 graders who participate in the Higher Ground After School Program has been renewed. Higher Ground is a non-profit corporation dedicated to serving youth in the Oakland public school system. 

The Aesthetics of Enlightenment

MANUSCRIPT COMPLETED!!
I spent long hours over the holiday weekend working on completing the manuscript for When We Pray. The manuscript and the images have all been formatted and sent to the publisher. I will be publishing through Balboa Press Books with an estimated release date of late February- early March provided everything runs smoothly.
The book will be printed in an 8.5 x 11 softcover version which should run about 80-100 pages. I have decided to complete a special illustration for the cover and need to have it completed for publication by mid-January. I AM SOOOO EXCITED!!! I am literally overflowing with anticipation to see one of my lifelong dreams coming to fruition!!

MY NEW COURSE
I have now begun the initial preparations for the creation of an online course that will expand upon and supplement the material presented in When We Pray. The course should be completed and ready for enrollment by the 2nd week of January (if not sooner). The new year is going to start off with a bang!

ARTICLE PUBLISHED
My article, “Conjuring the Muse: A Theology of Inspiration and Imagination” is now in print (finally). It is available in the November issue of the SEEN Journal – HOPE edition, Vol. XVIII (November 2018) a publication of the group CIVA (Christians in the Visual Arts).

EXCERPT ROM CHAPTER 
Below are a few selected excerpts from chapter 2. Remember, my manuscript hasn’t been poured over by the editor yet so things could change.:-)

When We Pray II
The Aesthetics of Enlightenment: The Universal & the Particular
                When the word “aesthetics” is mentioned in contemporary circles, most of us associate it with theories regarding how we perceive and understand beauty, but this is a very limited perception that merely props the door open. If we open the door fully, we are invited to enter a much broader landscape which grounds aesthetics in the realm of sensory experience. Our senses are essential to this discussion because beauty must be perceived in order to be experienced, and perception is impossible without the use of our senses. You see a beautiful work of art, you hear beautiful music, you see and taste a beautiful meal, you physically and emotionally feel the power of nature. Beauty, at its most fundamental level, is a celebration of the sensual which props open the door to a wider range of aesthetic experience. “Aesthetics” is derived from the Greek root aesthesis which can best be defined as “of the senses” or “perceptible by the senses”. When the founder of the discipline, Alexander Baumgarten coined the term “Aesthetics” his original intention was to establish a scientific method for the study of empirical experience.[i] If beauty props the door open so we may glimpse what’s on the other side, Aesthetics opens the door and invites us into an exploration of sensory perception and the nature of human embodiment.
Far too many of us live disembodied lives. We are rarely fully present to our experiences due to living in the past, worrying about the future, over medicating, overindulging, blocking or denying our feelings, ignoring or neglecting our bodies…until we reach the end of our lives without ever having truly lived them. Unfortunately, many of our religious and spiritual traditions do more to re-enforce this tendency toward disconnection than encourage healthy and affirming attitudes toward embodiment. We have been told that the body is bad, sinful, part of the reason we suffer and a host of other negative assertions. However, embodiment is essential because It is through the locus of our bodies that we perceive and experience this reality…

               …Science now re-enforces this claim by proving that every perception we have is accompanied by a corresponding physical sensation that is stored in the body as cellular memory. Whether it is a thought, an experience, a feeling…it is still perceived by the brain and the body as sensory data that is recorded and stored within the cellular memory – whether we are consciously aware of the experience or not. This finding supports psychological theories which discuss trauma, PTSD, post-traumatic slave syndrome, recalling experiences in the womb while under hypnosis, and practices such as the curing of ailments through body awareness practices, improving intuition through muscle testing…etc. This process of cellular encoding ensures that all human experience is sensory, embodied, and aesthetic.
If all experience is aesthetic, then the paths to enlightenment, nirvana, and the road to heaven must all be paved with sensory experience. If we are to walk this path, we must first define what we mean by enlightenment. Enlightenment is not a destination to be reached nor a threshold that one must pass through. Enlightenment is a blossoming, a progressive unfolding of insight and revelation into the nature of universal, divine, consciousness. This perspective moves us away from the misguided notion that Enlightenment is a prize to be obtained or a goal that one accomplishes. Neither is it a destination to be reached. This mindset is much too static. A more nuanced perspective allows us to envision a progressive, ongoing, revelation of consciousness that moves us through the sensual toward the supra-sensual until we eventually become one with pure consciousness. The movement toward enlightenment is one of relative degree and expansion into the vastness of all that is…
                 …We have this treasure in earthen vessels. But in order to find the “treasure”, we must be willing to dig for it. We must be ready and willing to get down on our hands and knees and dirty ourselves in the soil of life. This is the true purpose of living. To dig deep into the ground of existence, to struggle to be present to our particular lives and all the experiences it will present us….(excerpt).

[i] Richard Shusterman, “Aesthetic Experience: From Analysis to Eros” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 64: 2 (Spring 2006), 218.

Chapter Sample

Yes, my book is almost done! Finally! The manuscript will be completed by the end of the month and expect the book to be out on the market around mid-March to early April. I didn’t get quite as much completed as I would have liked last month but am making significant headway already this month hand have set myself a hard deadline. Now you have my promise to have it done in print!

Below are a few selected excerpts from chapter 3. Remember, my manuscript hasn’t been poured over by the editor yet so things could change.:-)

When We Pray III
Signs, Symbols and the Sacred

From 2014 to 2018 I maintained a small studio-space within a local gallery in downtown Oakland. On the first Friday of each month, the city and most of the local galleries would host an event known as the “First Friday Art Murmur”. My space along many of the surrounding galleries located within the downtown area would be open during that evening allowing the public to come explore their galleries and the various artist’s studios. Even though I was working full-time for three of the four years I maintained my space, I always did my best to have at least one new piece on display during First Friday. After the first year, this became one of my favorite opportunities to show my work. I welcomed this event because it helped me stay focused during the month, provided me with an opportunity to show my work on a regular basis, and most important of all I was able to observe the visitor’s reactions, hear their comments to one another, and speak with them about my work. This source of direct feedback provided me with insights that have proven invaluable in innumerable ways.

One of the most astounding things about these encounters was the ways in which people responded to the symbols used in my work. Those who were not familiar with a symbol found in a certain piece would usually ask me what it meant and why I had chosen to use it. It was always both humbling and amazing to receive words of appreciation as they began to grasp the connections between the symbol’s meaning and the other elements within the piece. It was as if it all began to click, and most would stay and examine the piece more closely as if this newly acquired knowledge allowed them to digest the imagery more thoroughly. Those who recognized many of the symbols would often speak about how much they appreciated them being used in appropriate ways, and comment about the various nuances in meaning they grasped in a particular work because of one of the symbols encountered within it. This recognition of a familiar or meaningful symbol often increased their appreciation of the work and filled it with more significant meaning for them. These conversations let me know that I was on target with my desire to incorporate symbols into my work and helped me to better grasp the power of symbolism…

…Signs and symbols help us to make things “special”. If human beings lacked the desire to make anything “special” we would all lead very drab, indistinct lives. Making special is as natural to us as eating or breathing. This notion of making things special is one of the most significant aspects of our humanness – particularly for those of us who are striving to live our lives with an intentionally spiritual focus. It is the human desire to make things “special” which lies at the heart of any discussion upon the distinctions between the sacred and the secular. Things which we have designated as “special” are deemed as such because they hold significant psychological value individually or collectively. We prize a particular ideal, experience, object, symbol, person, role…to such a degree that we imbue it with significant psychological value. By doing so, the value we place upon it makes it “special” and in many cases it becomes so special that it enters the realm of the sacred. Making Special is the true essence of the sacred-secular distinction. Whether individually or collectively, human beings possess an innate need to make things special and the degree of value we place upon them determines whether or not they are deemed sacred. Throughout history art, signs, and symbols have played a significant role in this process by helping to: designate something as special, remind us that it is special, or celebrate its particular psychological value…

…What was coming more immediately to the foreground of my consciousness? What did I need to “make special” and why? Asking these kinds of questions increased my trust in spirit and deepened my meditation practice – because it helped me to see how important it was to practice looking for the “signs” instead of wondering and waiting for what was often already right in front of me. So, look for the signs. Open your senses and feelings to the signs. Pray for a sign. Meditate on the signs. Believe you have and will continue to receive the right signs. Give thanks for the signs. Trust the signs. You’ll have more appreciation for the journey, if you pay attention to the signs along the way.

When We Pray – Progress

Greetings Family,

I was unable to complete the whole manuscript of my book last month. Although I was quite enthusiastic to get it done, I think I was a little unrealistic about the amount of time I could actually put not the project without going to a retreat location and write from there. However, I did manage to get four chapters completed which places me at the halfway mark! I have four more to go and will be ready to get back into writing mode as we refocus for a new month.

Unfortunately, I was sick with the flu the whole holiday weekend and spent 85% of my time at home in bed! 😦  But I’m almost well now and plan to get back into the swing of things later this week.

Below is a summary of each chapter of the project. As you can see below I don’t necessarily complete the chapters in order because my brain just won’t work that way. I meditate upon which chapter should come next and trust that Spirit will guide me to the write one, as it inspires me with the needed content.  Hope you find them of interest!

WHEN WE PRAY:
8 MEDITATIONS ON THE AESTHETICS OF PRAYER & THE SPIRITUAL LIFE
CHAPTER SUMMARIES
Preface

Since the book is really a series of essays or meditations (or monographs??) I don’t think a formal introduction to the contents/concepts is needed. However, I do think it important to basically set the tone for the reader and provide a few insights about the overall direction of “When We Pray” and my reasons for developing its content.

When We Pray
Making the Connection: Prayer, Aesthetics & the Spiritual Life
This initial essay will paint a picture of the overall conceptual framework that allows the reader to begin to see and understand the connections between prayer, aesthetics and the spiritual life. In this section, I will define some essential terms, provide some historical and contextual grounding, and lay the overall framework for the more specific points of discussion that will comprise the other meditations.

When We Pray
The Aesthetics of Enlightenment: the Universal & the Particular – COMPLETE
It is here that the real work begins. I delve into the most misunderstood paradox in spirituality, how the seemingly particular act of going within through prayer and meditation ultimately leads to an ever more intimate understanding of that which is most common to all – the universal. This essay will delve into this paradox and help us to understand how the aesthetic dimensions of spiritual life help us to better understand the universal and the particular.

When We Pray III
Making Special: Sacred Symbols, Sight & Geometry – COMPLETE
What does it mean to make something special? How does our concept of the sacred relate to our use of symbols and the ways in which symbol is used on the spiritual path? This meditation will examine these ideas and relate them specifically to the process of spiritual growth and discernment – particularly with regard to the ways both humans and Spirit utilize symbols and signs as a means of communication.

When We Pray IV
The Work is all Divine: The Role of Imagination in Prayer & Manifestation – COMPLETE
In this essay, I will explore the ways in which imagination and manifestation play a central role in prayer and the spiritual life. It will present the conceptual framework and context through which manifestation and imagination helps us to see understand the inherent connection between prayer, imagination, and the process of manifestation.

When We Pray V
Awakening: The Art of Prayer & the Art of Life – COMPLETE
We use the term “art” in relation to a wide range of human endeavors that stretch from the actual creative work of the “Arts” to the facility with which we live our lives. This meditation will explore the term “art” by defining it in a manner that allows us to connect it with aesthetic experience, inspiration, and the spiritual life. Particular emphasis will be placed upon the notion that prayer is an “art” and how human beings can harness the aesthetic dimensions of prayer in order to live inspired and artful lives.

When We Pray VI
In Defense of the “Woo-Woo”: The Aesthetics of Mysticism and the Spiritual Life
The contemporary scientific model and its accompanying evidence-based approaches in the softer sciences have given mysticism a bad name. Even many Spirituality and New Age professionals will often shy away from the mystical or qualify any mystical statements by apologizing for becoming to “Woo-Woo”. In this chapter, I will address this phenomena and put forth a perspective that argues for mysticism and spiritualization as key components in prayer and spiritual development. This meditation will explore the ways in which the aesthetic dimensions of mysticism and mystical experience have always been and continue to be integral to prayer and the spiritual life

When We Pray VII
In the World & of the World
This chapter will focus upon the more practical aspects of living the spiritual life by examining how our spirituality should deeply ground and connect us to the world in which we live. How does one think about and frame their response to the world’s problems from a spiritual perspective, and what can the aesthetic dimensions of our spirituality bring to that discussion? There is a real and needed place for social activism, global thinking and reflection upon the ways in which our spiritual life can be brought to bear upon the needs of our current place in human history.

When We Pray VIII
Coda: There is only Love
Ultimately, love is all there is. This final essay will serve as a concluding segment that will weave together the various strands from the previous meditations through an examination of the concept of divine love. It will provide an overarching vision that incorporates the key concepts from the meditations. However, it will not be a summary, but rather an inspirational vision that is both a didactic and beautific discussion on love and the ways aesthetic insights can aid us in the expression of love in our every day lives.

When We Pray copy

Gravity: The Manifestation of Form

INTERPRETATION

The Root Chakra is key to all physical manifestation. Not just the form and shape of our body but the form and shape of the life and life experiences we manifest while within our body. The root chakra brings about existence or the manifestation of being and form into existence. As the first chakra, it is singular, whole, and complete unto itself.  Just like the number one, it is the beginning of all beginnings. This emphasis upon manifestation is one of the reasons why the charkas move from the lower to the higher vibrations. Although the 5th (throat) chakra may inspire creativity and the 6th (skull) chakra opens us to receive the vision, creation always necessitates form. Without form, our inspirations and visions have no hope of being grounded in physical reality. These higher vibrations must slow down, congeal, and condense before they can enter the material realm. That process of grounding and manifestation is the domain of the root chakra.  

In my previous post on the 6th chakra, I spoke about the process of purification and envisioning I was lead to undergo at the beginning of the year. But once you have seen the vision, manifestation is always the next step in the process. Moses went up the mountain to meet with God and receive the vision, but if he hadn’t come back down the mountain to manifest that vision his entire trip would have ultimately meant nothing. The results of my sojourn led to the manifestation of “Gravity.” The shape and feel of our lives is always a result of the manifestation of our consciousness in form. For me, this meant going back to my own singularity. Going back to my own roots psycho-spiritually and re-examining the mental and spiritual thought forms manifested there in order to decide if the events, people, places, and things in my life were accurate manifestations of “who” and “how” I wanted to be in the world. I was not very happy with what I was seeing. 

The root chakra is not only singular and whole but is also about grounding and connection. This grounding and connection occurs as we manifest things into form, and from our ability to maintain the stability needed for further nourishment and growth. This ability to “anchor in” and find stability is the basis for the development of individual growth and personal power. Gravity is a force of attraction. It encourages in-gathering and the marshaling of one’s inner forces. It is from this stable core that we are then able to attract or draw forth the power needed for acts of concrete manifestation. This is why the energies of the root chakra ground us into the earth so that we may develop the stable roots needed to grow and exercise our power through acts of manifestation.

Spirit was reminding me of this and letting me know that it was time to re-ground myself through a re-examination of what I had manifested thus far. I needed to make some long overdue changes. It was time for me to take a deep look at my beliefs and values in order to ascertain if they were still reflective of who I wanted to be. It was now time to ground down, find myself, and make serious efforts to change, jettison, or adjust any values and ways of being that no longer served me, or reflected who I “am” and want to be. In my case, this meant addressing my own issues concerning guilt, shame, and self-worth. Everything in my life, and the life I live is firmly grounded in my ability to: affirm what I do have, to believe that I deserve more, and my willingness to allow myself to have more. As within, so without. And so it is!

Gravity The Manifestation of Form

Gravity: The Manifestation of Form

SYMBOLISM

The graphic symbol above the figure represents the four leaves of the root chakra and the Sanskrit character for that particular chakra. The red hues throughout the composition are all associated with the chakra’s red color. Red, the color of blood, fire, and life. You will notice that some areas of the background are much softer and more diffuse than others. This was an intentional decision to symbolize the idea of form coming into and out of various stages of development and manifestation as it slows, congeals, and hardens into the shapes and sizes of physical matter.

The figure is standing in a form of the yogic prayer pose which is also a variation of the popular mountain pose. This pose is a grounding pose which allows one to stand in firm stability as the feet and root chakra energies ground down into the earth. Her feet are grounded deeply within the heart of the lotus she stands upon, as the minor chakras in her feet and knees transmit sensation from the lotus up into her root chakra. Her head is bowed and her hands are positioned in prayer over her heart. Her concentration is both meditation, prayer, and in-gathering as she places her focus upon the work of manifestation.

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