Teachings From My Altar: Spaciousness

Washougal River Full Moon Altar

:: 2015 ::

I’m not sure when I created my first altar.
I feel like I’ve always had one.

My altar while living in Mongolia

Perhaps my first altar was the large mirror I had in elementary school covered in stickers.

It was a space I tended daily.
I intentionally placed items (stickers) upon this altar (mirror).

When it was time to get rid of the mirror, I was extremely upset & confused.

Beginnings of a camping altar

Many years later, I found myself in another chaotic life cycle.
One of my teachers had me inspect my altar.

Sure enough, I began to notice a pattern:
When my life is in an upheaval, so is my altar.

Trance Dance workshop altar (& water bottles) at Wise Women Weekend in Ireland

This past New Moon I observed my compassion toward self & beyond.
As I built my altar with this in mind, I found many items calling to be placed:

This & that.
Oh yes, this for sure.
& how about that?

Crowded Aquarian New Moon altar

I sat with this New Moon altar.
I took in the bounty of items.

Yet, the bounty did not feel as joyous as a bountiful harvest.

I recall thinking, “I can handle this.”

The Saga Dawa altar I helped create at Jampa Ling Buddhist Centre in County Cavan, Ireland

The following two weeks I felt overloaded.

My time full & fast.

In preparation for the Full Moon,
I looked at my altar & immediately knew,
almost with a laugh,
my altar is crammed full!

Virgo Full Moon altar built with discernment

Is my altar representing the conditions of my life?
Are my helpers & guides trying to teach me something?
Did I create the conditions of my life by placing these items on my altar?

Who knows.

What I do know: the physical space my altar takes up grabs my attention.

I see it there.

I have the choice of whether I take the time to sit.
I have the choice to keep on walking.

An Mongolian elder walks the sacred circle around the ovoo, an altar made of stone & wood

As in my everyday life:

I can plow right on through
or
I can truly take the time to smell the roses.

A roadside altar in Koh Chang, Thailand