I had this quote by Dorothy Parker on my vision board a few years ago. I put it up there because I couldn’t understand it. I couldn’t wrap my mind around its logic.
I was in debt. In fact I felt immobilized by my debt. I could barely manage my essential expenses like shelter & food, so how could I possibly consider luxuries first?
As I often do, I started by clarifying the terms. What do I consider luxuries & what do I consider necessities? A safe place to sleep, healthy food to eat, clean water to drink, a strong body to live in–these are my necessities.
What do I consider luxurious? When I’m feeling desperately poor, anything beyond those necessities is a luxury. Yet when I have a bit more room to breathe financially, then the luxuries can be more extravagant. So, like most things, it’s relative.
At that point when I was feeling poor, I looked at what would make me feel more luxurious within my current circumstances. I couldn’t change my home but I could claim more time & space for myself within my home. Hot baths are health insurance to me in a cold climate–or a sauna if I have access to one. So I took more hot baths those winter & spring months. Time to write seemed like a luxury so I made it a more regular & even required part of my day. Feeling safe to lie naked in the sun is a luxury to me, so I found a way to do that.
Here is an etymological definition of luxury (n.) c. 1300, “sexual intercourse;” mid-14c., “lasciviousness, sinful self-indulgence,” from Old French luxurie “debauchery, dissoluteness, lust” (Modern French luxure), from Latin luxuria“excess, luxury, extravagance, profusion; delicacy” (source also of Spanish lujuria, Italian lussuria), from luxus “excess, extravagance, magnificence,” probably a figurative use of luxus (adj.) “dislocated,” which is related to luctari “wrestle, strain” (see reluctance).
Meaning “sensual pleasure” is late 14c. Lost its pejorative taint 17c. Meaning “habit of indulgence in what is choice or costly” is from 1630s; that of “sumptuous surroundings” is from 1704; that of “something enjoyable or comfortable beyond life’s necessities” is from 1780. Used as an adjective from 1916.
Wow that’s a long journey. I didn’t even know the word luxury was related to lust & debauchery! And yet this is what I started to realize in an energetic sense. First Chakra energy is about security. It’s our feet on the ground, our foundations, our sense of being safe in this body, in this world–what I might call our necessities. Second Chakra energy is about creativity. It’s our relationships with our sultry (pro)creative selves, with sex, with intimate others, with what flows–emotions, money, power. What I might consider luxuries. These two chakras are so physically close to one another–Svadisthana, one’s own sweetness, is nestled into Muladhara, the acceptance & “ownership” of one’s right to exist in this world–that we might even say they co-exist!
Because of course they do.
We look at things in parts so our small brains can think they understand them,
but we actually exist in dynamic multi-dimensionality.
This nestling together brought me to a wondering I’d had before–which comes first? The seed or the roots? If we are going to be linear in our approach to these chakras, where do we begin & where do we end? I confronted this dilemma last year in a chakra workshop. I had to start somewhere & end somewhere, unlike how I teach year after year, which is cyclical & seasonal in structure. Everyone (I’ve come across) talks about these energy centers in a hierarchical & numerical way–1 through 7, bottom to top.
Yet I have found it makes far more sense for me to start, if I must choose a step-in point, at “#3” in the navel centre. Then we go upwards from there to “#7” at the top of the head & continue from there to “#1” in the feet, legs & tailbone. We then culminate in “#2”–coming home to oneSelf. That’s how I have structured my spirallic teaching of MYOGA Seasons the past, nearly, 6 years. Sue’s testimonial from that page gives you a good sense of how it “works”:
“The MYOGA seasonal practices are truly transformational. It doesn’t happen fast, but if you stick with it, over the years you’ll see incredible change in yourself. The first year my body was transformed by the challenge of practicing consistently – this came as improved strength, better posture, alignment, body awareness. The second year my mind got more of a work out and transformation – improved concentration, focus, and a sense of control over myself and my choices. And then in the third year, I felt those benefits as a transformation of spirit – this expresses itself as happiness and contentment, no more low-level anxiety. I started these practices when I was 50, and I can honestly say at 54 I feel stronger, younger, and more vibrant and vital than I’ve felt in my life!” –Sue Kerr, Wolfville, Nova Scotia
And that’s also been my personal experience in my life, which is really the only genuine thing I have to teach from anyway.
When you start is when You start. I’m more interested in what enables you to ‘never stop starting‘.
Maybe you start in Winter, so that’s the Seasonal sadhana (dedicated spiritual inquiry) you step into. If you keep going you’ll experience the Deepest Winter, First Spring, Brightest Spring, First Summer, Fullest Summer & Autumn practices & cycle back around to where you “began” in First Winter. There’s no doubt you’ll find it to be a different practice than you did a year prior.
So which comes first? The sense of luxuriating in your existence? Or the necessary stabilizing of your existence? What if they’re intertwined? What if you luxuriate in your body in whatever way suits you best AND you look after your animal needs?
You eat as well as you can–you don’t starve your poor animal.
You drink plenty of the best quality water you can access–you don’t dehydrate your poor animal.
You sleep in a warm, safe space–you don’t throw your poor animal out into the cold.
The key part of accepting the wealth I did have, was recognizing it–seeing it–in the first place. If I was all caught up in “poor me” who can’t go anywhere & is in debt, I was missing the virtues & blessings of what I did have to begin with. My healthy body, ways to keep it healthy, my healthy mind, ways to grow my mind…And as I began to accept myself right where & how I was, I found I could relax & luxuriate more in the blisses I’d missed before.
What does your animal need? Are you seeing those things as luxuries? Is there any way you can take the time to breathe, to move, to eat, to drink, to sleep
so that what you’ve been relegating to the luxury basket becomes the necessity nest?
Feel free to share in the comments below…
I’ll leave you with a few words that came to me yesterday when I had a date with mySelf:
free the vessel
free those critters
free that wild
melt your body down
become the critter you are
then strengthen & nourish it
give it warmth, give it grace, give it home