The space was the desert in the south of Tunisia. Camp Mars to be precise. The practice was an early morning walk, the air still cool as the sun rose up above the mountains of sand. The community were the people I loved who were faraway yet very present in my heart during that early hour, who I knew would love this place and would hopefully see it one day.
At the top of a sand dune I stopped and felt invited to whisper Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo, a mantra of connecting to the wisdom within and the wisdom of all those teachers gone before us. I imagined I was whispering to all the women gone before me in my family and I wondered if they could hear me better here without buildings and wifi and traffic. Somehow the miles and miles of sandy spaciousness surrounding me brought to mind this precious kinship, which I am only just beginning to become aware of. I remember and I honor with this mantra because these women are my teachers and my guides making up a long line of light that I am part of.
Beginning the day this way was golden. I walked with this light to breakfast into a huge tent; the heart of the campsite. My husband and our friends were already there with bsissa and coffee, warm bread and honey. Breakfast was good. I noted people enjoying the act of holding steaming hot mugs with both hands because with no wifi, there were no phones to be busy with at breakfast. I appreciated their absence at the table and instead seeing people just being with their coffee and their thoughts.
Star gazing after dinner filled me with awe and quietened my busy mind full of its dramas, plans and to-do’s. As Alan Watts so wisely states: “Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well or badly arranged constellations.” We just observe. And without the city lights that hide these perfectly placed stars from us, we are reminded of the greatest space we are a part of. It is a space that needs no saving, fixing or re-arranging. To gaze at this perfection is calming to me during a period where my new home is still full of the unfinished and much needs fixing.
Tea lights in paper bags guide us each to our tents. I sleep incredibly well in the pure darkness and wifi empty air. I wake up naturally and find it was not a dream. I still feel like I’m on Mars. Where there is more space than stuff that reminds me of the vast space within me that is even more dear when my environment right now is far from spacious and clear.
Photo credit: Amin Ben Abderrahman