Friday, November 29, 2013

Off to Kripalu!

One of the topics that has most intrigued me over the past few years is the concept of multi and inter-faith communications and understanding.  Living in a traditional Arab Muslim society, I often struggle to understand what are the true practices of Islam and what are the practices that ultimately stem from culture, adopted into the religion in order to reinforce the identity of the community.

Earlier this fall, a dear friend and Islamic scholar said to me:

"Alena, the only red line of Islam is belief in and submission to one God."

A beautiful statement but one fraught with challenges, as it indicates the possibility that anything goes.

In the hands of an empowered, self-confident, self-aware individual, I imagine a world of non-judgement, compassion, forgiveness and peace.  In the hands of disempowered, insecure, unaware individuals - all hell is likely to break loose.

Isn't this the case with all things in this world?  Ultimately, our world is driven by humanity and the tone of humanity sets the tone for our world and how we experience it.

To make a long story short, yoga has come under discussion in some Muslim communities - should devout Muslims practice yoga or is it a competing spiritual system which must be avoided so as not to taint or distract from a pure Islamic practice?

In culinary terms, can we combine chana masala and felafel and enjoy a fulfilling meal that sustains our being?  I say yes - after all both dishes are just chick peas in different forms - plus I always find myself dipping my felafel (chickpeas) into my hummus (also chickpeas)!  Ok... maybe I need a different metaphor... inshallah, you get the jist.

I digress ... I'm off to Kripalu to participate in a yoga teacher training on Sunday to confirm my belief that though our paths may be different - in the end we are all heading for the same destination.

Stay tuned!

Photo by Jolinda Cath

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A New Look ... A New Name ... A New Adventure

In 2009, as I ventured off into the world of educational tourism, my godmother suggested that I start a blog as a means of advertising.  I posted fairly consistently to South Jordan Sojourn for two years before life took over.  Now after some thought and re-evaluation, I have decided to re-name the blog as a means of more accurately portaying the work that I find myself doing in the world.  For many years, I've supported the external exploration of the world and its beauty. More and more, however, I find myself supporting the internal exploration of those around and have found that the concept of pilgrimage fits nicely with what I find myself doing.  A pilgrimage is a journey of faith through an external world that allows for better understanding of one's inner self and things that are greater than that self.  Off we go!  :)

Erjud al Matalga, southern Jordan