I’m home after a month-long pilgrimage to India where I lived in Shantivanam, a Hindu-Christian Ashram, and visited ancient Hindu Temples. To join the established prayer, chanting and meditation routine of the Ashram dropped me down into a sweet and deep reverence for the accessibility of the divine presence, a minute-by-minute communion that I found both gratefully relieving and quietly exciting. Seven days of silence and solitude offered me a further needed respite from usual social contact, and space for deep reflection and prolonged meditation. On trips to south Indian temples we participated in devotional rituals that have been practiced for over a thousand years. We would climb barefoot up many old stone steps to the top, circumambulate the temple clockwise three times and enter the inner sanctuary, carved deep into the mountain rock. In the dark inner recess – the Cave of the Heart – the priest performed the puja then brought out the sacred fire to share with us. After we told him our name and astrological sign he would offer a blessing. A highlight was our early morning climb up the sacred mountain of Arunachala to sit in meditation for an hour in Ramana Maharshi’s cave. I look forward to sharing more experiences as time unfolds. View the slideshow HERE.
About the Author: Jacob Watson
Jacob Watson grew up in a New England family, attended traditional schools, then took a hard turn left. He was a grief counselor until his client’s broken hearts and wounded spirits – and a fire that damaged his counseling office – propelled him into ministry. He received a Doctor of Ministry degree from the University of Creation Spirituality, and after further study at the Chaplaincy Institute for Arts and Interfaith Ministries, was ordained an Interfaith Minister. He is the founding Abbot of the Chaplaincy Institute of Maine, and devotes his life to teaching, writing and prayer. “Sometimes we are quite naturally shy about our emerging spiritual lives. We may have spiritual wounds from the past when our natural instincts toward the spirit or religious world were not supported by family or friends. We often need privacy and confidentiality to heal spiritual wounds, and begin to create new relationships with the divine. The intimacy and depth of individual meetings can be affirming and helpful.” “As an Interfaith Minister and spiritual teacher I have had experience teaching, mentoring, and providing individual spiritual companionship, support and guidance to our diverse community. Serving as a Hospice Chaplain and Chaplain Supervisor I have counselled individuals and families through their grief and helped them on their path. At the Chaplaincy Institute of Maine, which I founded in 2002, I teach classes and workshops on interfaith spiritual practices.”