Pilgrim Seeking A Middle Path To Awakening
It was a lot more intense than anticipated. I went deep immediately, with my hour long meditations taking me through undulations of caverns within. To sustain this contemplative, meditative mode, I repeat a version of The Pilgrim’s mantra, “Please God, have mercy on me. Thank you”. My mind is prone to fanciful pernicious imaginings, thus requires a centering prayer for focus. As I make a cup of tea, please God, have mercy on me. Thank you. In the shower, please God… this repetition sustains the tranquil rhythm to my retreat, disrobing me of all my defences.
In this unclad state, I allow victim ego-self to take me through a decade review of my life- an evidently punishing review. I defend my innocence by highlighting all the losses I’ve suffered, the numerous hospitalisations and subsequent surgeries which mercifully butchered my stomach to save my life, and the accompanying loss of work and income. I lost my prana.
I also declare my growth, and lessons I have hopefully learned successfully, including the initiation of my healer self by mama after her death. The decade has been harrowing, but I have grown through it.
However, victim ego-self is mean and contemptuous as she dismisses my case, growling impossible questions at me: How can you still be here? Why are you in so much debt and carry so much weight and are still single? What precisely is your work in the world and (most devastatingly) what is the meaning of your life? Does God even know you? The judgements are relentless and scathing, and I fall for every one of them.
Victim Ego-self is not satiated, and charges her assault onto God. Accusations of abandonment, betrayal and untrustworthiness are thrown about with abandon. Soon enough my soothing mantra is renounced, to be replaced by a deluge of self-pitying tears that refuse to cease.
I retire to bed with a Big headache, and am basically not talking to God. Just before I fall asleep, my sadness cracks me open, and I relent and ask our brother and ascendant master teacher Abuti Jesu to “please help me”. “Please help me find another way”, I beg.
I then fall into dead sleep. Just after two in the early hours of the morning of the last day of the year and decade, I am roused and beckoned to the balcony bordering my bedroom. As I push the curtain covering the glass door open, I catch the last bit of a brilliant trail of a shooting star in the dark sky. “Please, no tricks and signs”, I implore, rolling my eyes in my head. “Let’s just talk”. And I do. I ask for help, contrite for my meltdown. I ask many questions; about myself, about life in a human body. This continues for long, only to have my soliloquy be interrupted by a startlingly bright shooting star lighting the sky above my head.
“Okay…okay…” I say. And sit there in muted awe. There is nothing to be said. So I listen. Very shortly, calmness and peace are restored in me. I then bid the night good night -I need to return to bed. It’s late. As I get up from the couch, the sky waves me good night with a faint but certain shooting star, to the right. My eyes and heart pop wide open. Three shooting stars in a matter of not more than 40 minutes. That’s astounding, right?
My 31st of December turns into a content day. I meditate several times and do yoga asana, all the time remaining in the Stillpoint within. I also listen to many A Course In Miracles videos, and have every single one of the questions I had posed earlier on the balcony clearly responded to. There’s an unseen orchestration here, lining up what I need to watch, to help me realise my freedom.
When I go to bed on the night of the 31st, it is with a grateful and open heart. Just before the turn of the new year I get up at 23:50 to do my prayers in my room, lit up by a single candle. At midnight I return to the balcony and sit there for over an hour, until the New Year celebrations dissipate. I start expressing my gratitude in silent prayer. As I do so, a shooting star goes off in the left of my periphery. I smile in acknowledgment, and continue staring into the moonless sky. I am in a state of reverential wonderment.
In playful impatience, another shooting star lights a path above my head, astonishingly low in the sky. I can’t. I simply cannot. I mean, what can I say? I’m repeating a mantra “thank you. Thank you for seeing me”. “Thank you for coming for me”. After a while I report fatigue, and prepare to retire to bed on this 1st of January 2020. I ask “please be patient with me. I’m a silly, doubting, impatient woman, but please be patient with me”. As I get up to leave, another star shoots in the sky to my right. I laugh out loud in childish delight.
I get to bed with a smile in my heart. It’s been a very eventful retreat, and possibly like none other, safe for the time I experienced light and pattern visions during the night whilst at Vipassana retreat. But six shooting stars is unbelievable even to me, who saw them with my own eyes.
I think of the bible reading done at my mother’s funeral service, which went something like “you who have eyes but cannot see…”. Apologies but I don’t know the exact verse. At this point though I know I am being asked to stop being Doubting Thomas. My doubting only fulfils my anticipated disappointment. Therefore, as I step into this new year, may I see. May I see and know.
I break my retreat the following morning with a hike on Silvermine Reserve. It’s a strenuous hike, and my mind is free of thoughts as I walk in the morning heat. I notice beautiful bright orange and pink flowers dotted all over, and am happy. My mantra “thank you, thank you” accompanies my every step.
Ka Lerato. Thank you for reading.
As I complete my meditation in the early hours of this Thursday the 19th morning, I feel compelled to capture some lessons dropped into my awareness through A Course In Miracles teachings into my journal:
“Divinity has made me like Itself, and has given me Its power to create like Itself”.
So why am I using Divine Power to create the stress and madness that is my life?
Why am I using this Power to create and sustain what I do not want?
“Divinity will never choose against me”, but I choose against myself over and over again, swiftly delivering myself into the imprisonment of strive and disappointment, anger and lack.
I have to find another way, a way that reminds me that I am co-creator and eternal in God, right now.
I have to find a way that reminds me that even as I misuse my Divine Power in rampant self defeat and sabotage, that I can forgive myself and choose again with Divine Guidance, and create peace and prosperity.
This I Will today.
I give thanks to Divinity for choosing me always, and for waiting patiently even as I dodge and hide from It. I accept Your Love, and welcome Its soothing balm to heal me; Its song to gently caress me to awakening to the memory of You.
As I complete my journaling, I sense that I was being watched. With unusual unconcern, my eyes saunter outside through the open balcony door, to meet a faint but certain rainbow riding a grey cloud, staring straight at me from across the lake. I am slightly startled by the gaze as my mind struggles to make sense of how a rainbow could possibly be painted perfectly in the Northern sky like this, with the light of the hidden morning sun shyly shining from the East? The angle is wrong. It does not make any sense…
I reach for my spectacles from the top of my bedside pedestal to ascertain this vision, nearly knocking over the ‘in-case-of-a-nighttime load-shedding episode’ unlit candle in my haste. My breath quickens ever so slightly as I snap the glasses open with some impatience. I raise them up to meet my face, adjust the horn-brown arms behind my ears, and push the bridge connecting the lenses together into position on top of my nose with my right middle finger. I then settle forward to behold Her.
Catching my bespectacled eye, She boldly intensifies her mesmeric colours, challenging me to dare doubt my seeing her.
I stare, my mouth falling agape as I take Her in. Oh yes, I see you.
I do see You. A rainbow is always a surprise; an astonishing vision of a miracle, signifying the play between light and dark, those companions in duality.
This morning it is my messenger.
My fear. My doubt. My self sabotage. My impatience. My disappointment. My Darkness. My experience of Lack. My failed trials. My Doubt!
I surrender all these, and place them upon Your Altar as my offering. These are my treasures that I have created carefully over many lifetimes. They have exhausted their usefulness to me, and fail to serve me any longer. I surrender them to You, and choose to welcome instead Your Divine Light to lighten my load.
Love. Faith. Trust. Endurance. Delight in all that shows up. Light. Utter abundant living. Welcoming of every trial and knowing it is all here to serve me. Surrendering to Your eternal Love.
I will this. This my prayer today.
She listens intently, and without interruption, gathers my intention into her bosom, and promises to deliver my message. When She is done, She shakes off her painted robe, and slips away as unspectacularly as She had appeared, dissolving swiftly into her Cumulonimbus Chariot. This interaction barely lasted a minute.
Messengers are everywhere and appear to all of us all the time.
I want to be present to all the Messengers that are sent to me, and courageously welcome their gifts.
May I learn to be patient and discerning, and understand their messages with clarity and wisdom.
May what I treasure be not the ephemeral of the world, but the True Gifts from God, and may I understand precisely what this means.
May I recognise the beauty that surrounds me always, and perhaps also the beauty that is in me, and that is me.
May I find and follow my True North.
May the only longing I have be the one that is already quenched eternally.
May I too agree to being a messenger, and deliver what you and I need to hear.
Above all else, May I finally awaken to my memory of God, in God.
I am yanked awake by the slippery sensation of the breathing tube being pulled out of my mouth. The extubation leaves me without breath. My brain, still in aenesthetic fog, cannot select between one of the two choices- inhalation or exhalation? I am left suspended, hovering far too long over death.
Foreboding looms over me as I frantically search for my source of life through endless passages. It is dark and unpleasant, fearsome even, and is nothing like the bliss inducing light that the newly dead encounter as they transition out of this world. My fear is all encompassing. This cannot be right. Why are You presenting me with this gruesome sight?
My brain remains uncertain of the most useful action to take under the circumstances, although I am seductively drawn to the long, morbid final exhale. Just as I yield to this cavernous incertitude, perhaps ambivalence, the Medulla Oblongata springs awake, bravely wards off death, and breathes me back to life. It is quite a shock, this, and quite dramatic.
I become aware of myself in my body, and open my eyes to the theatre nurse and aenesthetist calling my name.
It is the 22nd of June, and as Winter Solstice leaves our shores, Her invitation to accompany Her is almost irresistible for me.
This Portal opened to me on the 9th of June, the day marking the tenth anniversary of mama’s death. Please read my last post for the story of her passing.
This Portal Opening first shows up on that very Sunday the 9th on my flight back to Cape Town, after having spent time with my family in Tshwane. At first it appears as nothing much but the telltale sneezing, headache and slight body pain, marking the whisper of the flu. But it’s nothing- this I can ignore easily.
Except I wake up in the morning not able to tolerate light, and with an inability to get out of bed. I’m usually doctor weary, but have become cautious since my pneumonia attack last year. So I call my doctor and plead for an immediate appointment.
When I arrive at her consulting rooms a day later, she is so shocked by the state of me that she immediately puts me on swine flu treatment. She explains that she’d already admitted two patients to hospital for swine flu, and was was not taking any chances by waiting for full blood tests.
The flu flattens me for two weeks, leaving my body in constant pain, and relegates me to bed. I lie fallow, contemplating every laboured breath, nourishment coming from the diluted juices I substitute for food. A neighbour, Trisha, drops off chicken soup, whilst another, Bradley, delivers much needed prescribed medicines to my door. I am loved.
It takes me a fortnight to finaly manage to leave my bed, but am immediately struck by another affliction that sends me straight back there. This time, a hospital bed.
It is Friday the 21st, still June, marking winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere. It is possibly my first day properly out of bed, so I go downstairs to enjoy the fire that Clement has made to lick the cold out of the house. I make myself a fruit smoothie for lunch, a welcome variation from the diluted juice diet I’ve been on since I contracted the flu.
I’m enjoying its pink deliciousness as I watch the predicted hurricane-like storm unsettle the Cape out my window. After a mere few sips, I feel my stomach unsettle in a disapproving cramp. I know this cramping all too well. It has successfully landed me in Casualty Units of hospitals around South Africa about a dozen times since 2015. Countless scopes, blood tests and other invasive investigations have failed to pinpoint the exact source of this.
At this time, I decide to ignore it, and hide from it in work on my laptop. But the cramps are persistent, and keep sending me loud whispers. Buscopan Co should sort this out, so I take two. Three hours later, by 6pm the cramps cease their threats, and attack full force. I take two more Buscopan Co, and distract myself by watching a movie on Showmax. They dial up the pain, and I’m losing. I don’t know what to do anymore, and walk about the house with a painful stoop, like mama used to close to her death.
By 9pm the pain is successfully invading my body, so I retire to bed upstairs. ‘Retire’ being a generous overstatement. The effort of climbing the stairs upsets my stomach so much that I vomit violently as soon as I hit the landing. Diarrhoea closely follows.
I stay in the bathroom a long time, hanging onto the towel rail for support. I have to remain here since everything is being released all at once through every orifice. By now the pain is everywhere in my body, and I’m unable to sit or stand or lie down in any way, so I roll about on my bed.
I don’t ask for help.
It takes me an hour before I eventually convince myself that this is not good. I need help. Thirty minutes go by with me listening to the wild storm hurricaning through the night, refusing to call Cape Medical Response, a service I pay a monthly subscription fee for, to assist me through my medical emergencies.
I’m embarrassed they’ll think I’m being dramatic, that I’m calling them out in the middle of inclement weather. I start bargaining with myself- I’ll call if I vomit again (I do), or if the first card I retrieve out my wallet without looking is my CMR card (it is), and ridiculously, if the second card I retrieve without looking is my medical aid card. Incredulously enough it is! (When I relate this my friend Injairu says my poor guardian angels had to work extra hard that night). I have lost all my bets with myself, so I relent and place the call. By then it’s around 10pm. The cramping started at 3 in the afternoon.
A CMR medic arrives within minutes, carrying a backpack brimming with hopeful drugs. She sits on my bed and listens to my story about these reccurent cramps, takes some notes on a pad, and refuses to give me any painkillers. She says I need to go to hospital; that she cannot chance medicating me without knowing the source of my ailment. There are so many major organs housed within the abdominal cavity, blah blah… I need to go to hospital, she insists. I refuse. She remains seated at the foot of my bed, staring me down, am not sure if it was kindly. In my mind’s eye I’m staring right back, but in reality it’s impossible, since I’m writhing about in pain. “Just bloody well hook me to a drip and load it up with pain drugs”, I plead, but she’s unmoved.
Twenty minutes later I stagger to the toilet for a mother of a long, dry heave, the type that makes you feel like you’ve vomited yourself right out of your body. When I return to the bedroom, her quizzical gaze bores into me, and I tell her: “Fine. Call the ambulance”. Whilst we wait she advices me to pack an overnight bag since I’m likely to get admitted, and I look at her and say: “they’re not going to admit me”, and pack my phone charger instead. And my Kindle reader.
The treacherous ambulance ride elicits more gloopy saliva vomiting. The force of the wind is so strong that it occasionally destabilised the sagittal vehicle, piercing through apocalyptic roads. My pain couldn’t care less that the world is ending.
Mercifully I’m pumped with drugs as soon as I arrive at Casualty. The doctor on duty insists on doing a full investigation of my organs for the source of my pain. I’m too out of it to note the amount of blood being extracted from my veins, but all tests come back clean.
The doctor eventually sends me to radiography for a contrast scan, where iodine is injected straight into the veins. As it razes slowly and thoroughly through my body, I feel like I’ve swallowed hell. Even my vagina goes up in internal flames.
It has taken the doctor on duty the entire longest night of the year to finally discover an incisional hernia plus a bowel obstruction, curtesy of the contrast CT scan. Of course she admits me to the ward, and I finally get some sleep at around 4:30 in the morning. The surgeon comes to see me at breakfast, and tells me I’m to have nil by mouth since I’ll be in surgery in about 2 hour’s time. Yes, it is an unscheduled emergency surgery, so of course I freak out. So does my family in Tshwane.
This is the surgery that ended up taking two hours as opposed to the 45 minutes the surgeon had promised. It’s the one where he discovered two and not one hernia, of course including the bowel obstruction. And it is the very one that acquaints me to death.
All my loved ones surround me, and cloak me in certain unconditional Love. My eldest sister Maureen flies down from Gauteng to give me care, whilst the rest of the family rearranges in order to all hold wherever they can. This call to death was felt so strongly that my 12 year old nephew, Boipelo, the family seer, commands me in his sleep: “No Mmane Makgati. Stop It!” This my sister tells me when she arrives in Cape Town.
I am loved.
I lie fallow again in convalescence. Now my entire June and July have me hibernating, in stillness, listening to life. In that time I download wisdoms and guidance, and am given the next steps to take.
My next post will pick up from the one on Mama’s Death, and will integrate gifts received through her passing, as well as the lessons given in my almost encounter with death.
Thank you for reading.Ka Lerato 🙏🏾
Mama refuses to take my call, and I angrily talk to Papa instead.
I hate how she does this, how she ignores me, as if I don’t matter. But it’s fine, I’ll make some small chit chat with Papa, and maybe try her some other time. Or maybe I’ll not call at all, and force her to connect with me through my silence. Yes. That is what I’ll do.
When I finish talking to Papa, who tells me that Mama has not said much to him either since he returned from working at the herbalist chemist shop they ran together, I report my disappointment to Sara over dinner, and promptly put the whole thing out of my mind. Afterall she’s not been all that well lately.
We go to bed I cannot remember what time, and I eventually fall into a deep sleep despite the uncharacteristic (for Joburg) wind that is surely uprooting everything in its path. It is scary out there and I wonder what the world will be like in the morning. This is biblical!
I’m a bit disoriented as I reach for my phone which is alarming me awake long after I’d been asleep. It’s Papa on the phone.
I am in dreamstate and simultaneously wide awake as I silently question my father’s reason for calling at this hour. My mind is urged, no, compelled awake and is on full alert since my father is not a silly man, is not one to place capricious calls in the middle of the night. As this thought rouses my mind to attention I consult the mobile in my hand for a reading of the time, and note that it’s twenty minutes after two on a Tuesday morning. Sara is now also awake, and examines my face for a reading of the reason for my father’s call as she sits up in bed.
“Papa”, I think I repeat.
” Go fedile” he explains.
“Ke Mama”? I remark.
His voice cracks at the exact time that my heart does too.
” Ee. Go fedile”.
It is done. It is finished. I’m sorry but I do not have the exact English translation for this. Certainly not one that will explain the immediate confusion my mind goes into when I tell Sara that Papa says it is Mama, and that we need to get there immediately. There being my family home in Mamelodi, with here being our home in Auckland Park.
I still think we should wait for daybreak but Sara is already out of bed putting our clothing and things into bags. She directs me to contact my Joburg based nieces and arrange for a pick up. One of them, Ntlotleng arrives in her own car which she parks in our yard as we go pick up the other, Fofo at her university residence.
Sara drives. Sara always drives since I dislike it so much.
The highway is blissfully empty as I chit chat and laugh with my nieces all the way home to Mamelodi. Or maybe it was only me laughing actually.
Sara drives the Jeep into the dusty streets of my township. It is possibly close to 4am as we drive past mothers and fathers, uncles and aunts making their way on foot to the train station for their long commute to work.
Soon enough the Jeep is driving down my street. Everyone has now gone silent, tension taking my breath away.
As Sara turns the wheels right to face my parent’s house, the space I continue to call Home, I immediately know my mother is dead. Everything that’s been quiet all along goes even more still. I’m struck by this layered word that expresses the cessation or movement and sound, whilst also acting as bridge between the past and the present.
I can hear my heart beating in my nose and eyes and feet as I get out the car to push the heavy metal gate my father welded himself to the right to open it. I am incapable of opening it all the way open for the car, so I leave it and enter through the narrow passage I managed to create.
As I walk in the house, it is to be greeted by Papa’s crying face, cotton handkerchief wiping his nose. I grew up washing his handkerchiefs by hand, which disgusted me to no end. Right now I unthinkingly walk straight past him to their bedroom.
Mama is lying there, glowing in bed, her face shining and bright, and dead. Her eyes are closed.
A strange sense overtakes me and I am smiling and joyous as I walk towards her, kneel by her side, and reach my face over to kiss her ice cold face.
This is my first encounter of a dead body, and I marvel at the strange absence of warmth of her body. It reminds me of that time I had handled a snake that my third year students had brought to class as part of their presentation years ago whilst teaching at RAU.
As I examine my mother, touching her and trying to lift her arm, now heavy with death to wrap it around my neck, my heart is dancing and I tell her she’s beautiful, and praise her for defeating death: “You are not a body, you are free for you are as God created you. You were never a body Mama. You are limitless. Death will never taste you. Ililililiiiiii” I ulilate silently, caressing her face as I climb onto the bed next to her, and rest my head on her bosom.
I tell her I forgive everything and that she must go happily with those that have come to fetch her. “Go. You have accomplished your mission” I tell her. “Thank you for agreeing to host me. Us. Go. That Light is here for you!”. “It is true what Papa says. Go fedile” I assure her.
I light a candle in the room as other family members stream in for prayers. My father has not stopped crying as he relates the story of the death of his Love, his Companion of over 60 years. He feels urged to tell us So we listen.
As I listen and hear, sudden searing pain lacerates all of me. In my distraught state I forget how to cry, but unknown tears weep me, releasing a lifetime of dammed up, unshed tears through me, and suddenly I cannot stop crying.
Right now as I write this, it is the 8th of June 2019, 23:42 and I am Home in Mamelodi.
This time 10 years ago my mother had already refused to take my call, knowing fully well that she had entered her death process, and more importantly, that she was about to give me the gift she had agreed to give me, in this lifetime. The gift she could only deliver through her death.
I will conclude this writing tomorrow, on June 9.
Thank you for reading.
The woman behind the eVisa counter at Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi scrutinises my passport photograph, brow tightly folded into three deep grooves. I get nervous, castigate myself for not applying for a regular visa back in South Africa. There’s not many people in these queues, hardly queues, so she potentially has all the time in the world to make my life hell. Shit!
Vary casually she reaches for a nearby stamp resting on an ink pad, rummages for a new page in my passport, stamps in my new visa (thank God!), scribbles entry and exit dates onto it, and hands it back to me with a smile. I’m so taken aback that I forget to smile back. But she’s not done with me- as I leave she pinches strands of her hair between her thumb and index finger and tells me: “you change your hair?” nodding and shaking her head simultaneously, in that confusing Indian style. Welcome to India, Makgathi!
I was here in 2015, my Pilgrimage Year, that year that I took off from work in order to save my life. It had been five years since my mother had died, and everything had fallen apart since then. I’d lost so much- both parents, a partner, friends, two homes, my beloved cat, a city, and countless other valuables. But I’d been pushing myself, and nearly broke down in 2014. So I decided to put my shekels together and take myself on a year long pilgrimage.
Second stop was India, for a Yoga Teacher Training stint in Rishikesh. This was IT! And it went very well, except that upon my return, my health joined the long list of lost items, landing me in hospitals at random intervals since June 2015. I never got my health back, and somewhere last year decided that I needed to return to India, ‘to fetch myself’ is how I put it.
So here I was, well ensconced in my yellow and blue room, in this orange ashram located deep within a dust covered, luscious green valley, with black cows and red monkeys owning it all fully. A gentle Mother Ganga tributary whispered wistfully nearby, inviting one to pause, and take a contemplative moment with her. I was about to spend four weeks in a womb, doing the very yang Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Training course, which entails, amongst others, three hours a day of asana classes with my very unfit and unprepared body. I was afraid.
My superseding reason for being here was not completely coherent, but I knew that I wanted to work with my inner masculine, and heal and integrate that aspect. To yog, yoke my sacred feminine with my sacred masculine within. So it was fortuitous to be held within this very feminine space of the valley, and to discover that every single person about to work with us was male, including the kitchen and cleaning staff. Turns out that the Masculine wasn’t only to meet me here, but was to journey with me throughout my time in India, including when I went to stay with my friend Nutan in New Delhi. I was surrounded and loved and nurtured by men who cared for my every need, without any conditions, my whole entire time. My very narrow notions of masculinity were being expanded.
By midweek of the first week I was over this yoga thing, and wanted to go home. My entire body ached all the time, making even the simplest actions excruciating. I hated everything. I stopped eating the dhal that showed up at almost every meal, and developed an unexpected sweet tooth. Regular trips to the spaza shop up the road became a welcomed feature of my days, with me stocking up on three-bite sized chocolate bars.
Come week two and my body succumbs to the cold of the winter below the Himalayas and the punishing schedule, and I contract the flu. I know that yoga is about listening to self, and treating that self with compassion; that it’s not necessary to perform absolutely every asana during asana practice, but my view is, how will I get it right if I don’t practice it? My body however disagrees, and that’s how I get sick.
People are worried, and I get taken to the hospital. I retrace my steps back to the very hospital I’d been taken to when I got sick here in 2015. Apparently I’m fetching myself from here too. Medical care is really good in India, and I’m soon back on my feet, back to the pain mat of Ashtanga primary series.
It gets so bad that I one day hear myself groan out in pain to the Vinyasa teacher “Ani, please come pass me my leg”, determined to get into the asana.
Eventually my clumsy misstep dance with this Ashtanga Fire God slowly finds its rhythm. He comes to meet me, and one day I surprise myself by kicking into an unassisted headstand, and float gently up, feeling my head ever so lightly lift off the floor. Fire God consort is not surprised at all. Me and my ego on the other hand are so pleased with myself, that I allow things to get to my head (pun intended). Under ego’s watchful eye, I struggle to hold the pose for even one second. It’s like that. At least I now understand what these yoga teachers mean when they say float. It is a float.
In our Meditation class, our teacher, Swami Narendra gives us a lesson on chakras. Now Swamiji, being a Swami, dresses top to toe in orange, has the most delightful laugh, lovely gestures and such a chewy accent that it’s often hard to decipher what he’s saying. We have to fill in the blanks ourselves, and most of us don’t mind. We love him so much. Plus he calls me Mother. Matha. “Matha, come sit, sit sit” he invites me with a soprano giggle and the ubiquitous head nod-shake, patting my would-be seat.
For this Chakra lesson, we sit in the sun on massive mattresses, sometimes listening, mostly dozing off in irresistible, stolen sleep following our morning Ashtanga class. These twenty something year olds are as challenged as my 52 year old self by these asana classes!
Now remember that the chakra system is an energy system that clarifies that we are made up of not only the physical body, but also of more subtle bodies which are unseen, but which play a crucial role for our growth, healing and finally our waking up to our true nature as aspects of Divinity.
Swamiji tells us that the first two chakras, the root chakra or Mooladha and the sacral chakra or Swadisthana are, respectively, about being grounded and the meeting of physical needs; and sexuality and sexual pleasure (I will blog later in greater detail about all the chakras and their application to my life).
It is when Swamiji speaks about the third chakra, Manipura or solar plexus chakra, that I wake up from my solar slumber. This chakra is located in the upper abdomen, the stomach area (the area that’s had me be rushed to Casualty Units of many hospitals in the past few years). It is masculine in nature, of course being Solar Plexus, the Fire God, and is about issues of self worth and esteem, doubt and wisdom.
Swamiji tells us that it’s easy to get stuck at any of the chakras, but particularly at this Manipura. These first three take a lot of personal effort to move through and transcend, and at this third one that we meet some of our biggest life trials- life asks us whether we mistakingly identify only as our bodies, or do we know that our real identity is Divinity-Aham Brahmasmi?
If you have doubt about your true identify then you will continue to see yourself as your belongings, and focus your life on things that identify you as a separate human being. For example, I could over identify as a woman, or my blackness, my sexuality and many other features that we humans use to help us know who we are, but that invariably also keep us separate from our true selves and each other when we are too attached to those very identities. Life however requires that after differentiating, we need to dissolve self boundaries and return to oneness with ourselves and each other.
For me in particular, being stuck at these lower three chakras shows up thus- I perceive lack in my world, lack of many things but romantic love, specifically, yearn and act to fulfil this lack, feel unworthy of what I yearn for, repel it with my own thoughts of unworthiness, perceive the lack, yearn and act to fulfill it… do you see the pattern? That’s been my life, in a nutshell.
The trial at Manipura is really Grace trying to help me see that I am not my body and all its longings, that in fact, as an aspect of Divinity, I already AM all that I long for. Even “him, the guy”, he is in me, in fact he is me, energetically and in essence. Looking for him out there is useless, and only pushes him out of my awareness, and further cements the veil that hides Truth from me.
It was during Swamiji’s class that I realised how much time I was wasting in waiting with worry. I was living against myself.
My journey through this life is one of Self-Realisation; ‘a pilgrim seeking a joyful path towards enlightenment’, and here I was taking root at Manipura. That’s not okay for me. I want to progress through the heart, all the way to the crown chakra, experience enlightenment, and return after my last lifetime to serve humanity in Samadhi.
And there, in my meditation class, held in the womb of Mother Earth and hatched by the warmth of Father Sun, I cracked open and cried.
That night, in my room, with incense burning and mantra chanting, I journal a Freedom Letter to myself: I release me. I am free. I release me. I am free.
I vowed to move my attention from lack to practising genuine gratitude, and see everything as a Gift from Divinity. If I struggle with the Gift, maybe because it’s not what I seemingly want in that moment, I shall regard the Gift as a learning opportunity, there to help me progress through to enlightenment. I vow to trust that everything is here to serve me, and be grateful for it.
I am very much open to a holy, romantic relationship with my soul companion, but I’m not consumed by the longing. In fact, since returning home, I notice a certain lightness in me. I am clear that my task in this lifetime is to experience Divinity, and to follow Its guidance on how I should live. I’m smiling more. And I feel genuine freedom. Now when I say God is within, I believe it.
Thank you India. You have released me back to me. Did I fetch myself? Well let’s just say that since arriving on the 9th of January, I’ve been landing slowly back into myself. And I’m still landing.
Thank you for journeying with me.
My would be lover comes to me in a dream. I don’t recognise him, but the dark recesses of my soul know him. They knew he would come, and so welcome him quietly.
When he sees me he gathers me into his arms, lifts me up and walks about with my hands around his neck. He leans in to kiss me, pulls back for breath and asks me: “what do you need, to live in this world, this modern world”?
I too catch my breath, smile into his youthful eyes, mischievous, flippant really, ready to offer a disposable response. He, already knowing me, stops me mid thought and cautions: “I don’t want a pop song response. Nor a romance film answer please”.
I withdraw my gaze, dropping my focus within, to meet Their disapproving glare. I rearrange my sense, look back into his eyes, and tell him:
I need meaning… I need authenticity…
I soon wake up from the dream reciting a list of my needs, but remain in that in-between liminal space of not asleep but not quite awake either, and continue adding to it…
… i need vulnerability and authenticity.
I need long deep silences
…and raucous laughter,
I need earnest companionship with myself.
I need to be me, and for you, to be fully you.
I need to stop being afraid, and be audacious.
I need to hold my tongue…
I need to speak up and out and loud!
I need to yield, and hold my ground.
I need to smile with my eyes, and unburden you of my issues.
I need to explore the far reaches of my capacity, and stretch and be stretched till I fill them fully with me.
I need to move, and dance and leap and gyrate to the certain beat of my heart drum.
I need to experience my own Wholeness.
I need to honour all my losses, and release them to the wind…
I need to forgive… So much I need to forgive.
I need to make peace with disappointment, flaws, scars, aches, sadness, rage, heaviness, my body.
I need to welcome disappointment, flaws, scars, aches, sadness, rage, heaviness, my body, me.
I need truth that is True, and only True.
I need to be more kind, more understanding, more patient, more trusting.
I need to listen, but more importantly I need to hear.
i need you, and us. I need connection with All There Is.
I need to know that I am Love, and live my life as Unconditional Love, no matter what.
I have all that I need, and need none of what I have. For this, I am deeply grateful.
I am Whole.
Nothing in this world, including me, is real.
I surrender to Divine Guidance as She leads me back Home.
Only That, God is Real, and It is all I seek.
This entry introduces my reflections on my Yoga Teacher Training journey in December in India. Stay tuned for that post please.
Ka Lerato 🙏🏾
An Invitation To A Yearlong Divine Feminine Women’s Circle Journey.
I am in the process of convening two community circles for women: one, A Circle of Crones, for women aged forty five and above, and the second, The Maiden’s Meet, for women forty four years of age and younger. Ideally the younger women should not be younger than 25.
I will work with each circle on an identified Saturday once a month during the entire year, and will bring the two circles together for an inter generational ceremony at each New Moon and Full Moon. We will close our circles together in an end of year combined retreat.
We will follow the natural unfurling of the seasons, as we honour that which is called forth for expansion and contraction within ourselves.
We will draw on indigenous wisdoms, ancient practices, psychological processes, the expressive arts, and rites and rituals drawn from our own and other cultures as our vehicle.
The themes build on each other; it is therefore not recommended to skip any of the sessions.
I will occassionally invite specialists to our circles to share their wisdom and progress our growth and learning.
The Divine Feminine Circle journey is not based on any one religion. Rather we make space for, and respect what you need to bring to the process.
Currently the circles will be hosted in Cape Town, and am able to to host them in other parts of South Africa, particularly Gauteng, as needed. Please feel free to explore options with me.
I am also able to amend various aspects of the programme to suit your needs for your NGO/NPO groups, or for any other constellations existing in various contexts. Again please let us explore.
Costs: R350 per session if you attend all 12 sessions. Or else R550 per session if you skip two or more sessions. All amounts are inclusive of the bonus New Moon and Full Moon ceremonies (which are optional). You are welcome to arrange a payment plan with me.
The Divine Feminine Circles can only accommodate six women per group. However you are welcome to invite one important person in your life to the New Moon/Full Moon ceremonies.
Each Divine Feminine Circle will run from 15:00 and will conclude at 20:00 hours on the prescribed date. Please bring a small meal and drink to share. Thank you.
To make your booking, here are my contact details: +27 0845803494. Makgathi.firstname.lastname@example.org
I look forward to walking this journey together.
Ka Lerato 🙏🏾
Who is this being inhabiting a body labeled Makgati Louisa Emma Mokwena?
Who am I beyond this body? Without all the noise that essentially is an extension of this body, comprising things I cherish? Own?
Who am I without my family, friends, tribe, and all the people I pull towards me, only to have them serve as an extension of me?
Who am I without my past?
Without my hope?
My longing and yearning?
Without my disappointments?
My self betrayal?
My traumas and pain and hatred and shame?
Without my missed opportunities?
Without my judgments and opinions and cleverness and achievements?
And titles and entitlements?
Who am I without my fears and failures?
Without my star sign and numerology numbers and 11:11?
Without my preferences?
Who is this me, without all these stories I tell myself about who I am?
About who and how I ought to be?
Who lies beneath and transcends this big veil of unknowing?
I really want to know me, clean, and unfettered by all my stories.
May 2018 bring me closer to the Me I already Am.