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Your Inner Altar

Updated: Oct 11, 2020

Yesterday I was listening to an Iyanla Vanzant podcast and she said:

“From welfare mother to New York Times best-selling author, from the Brooklyn projects to Emmy Award winner, from broken pieces to peace, Iyanla Vanzant is one of the country’s most celebrated writers and public speakers, and she’s among the most influential, socially engaged, and acclaimed spiritual life coaches of our time.”

Two words popped out and have stayed with me since then. Inner altar. I have an altar here in my home of special objects that are dear to me including a picture of me as a child, a Buddha statute, crystals and the like. What’s on my inner altar?

When I sit in silence my inner altar is present. Otherwise, I’m too distracted to see it. I can say what used to be on my inner altar. My story about my abuse was front and center beside my story about my chronically-ill daughter. My degrees in education, my career accomplishments, my anniversaries that are important to me, the births of my daughters, and special people who are dear to me.

As I have grown, I realize my altar is less cluttered. My stories of pain are no longer there as they may have contributed to who I am but they don’t define me. My altar holds little lights glittering in the sunlight that represent every heart connection I have had with people, animals and nature. My altar also holds a scenic vista of my favorite place. And lastly, in the center surrounded by beautiful flowers is a large bowl of gratitude.

“But you don’t know my circumstances. That won’t work for me. I don’t have it as good as other people. You should see my life. It’s a mess.”
“Religious leaders, psychiatrists, physicists, new and ancient philosophies agree. We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are. When we’re restless, irritable, and discontented, everything looks bad. That’s because we’re practicing negativity. It’s a powerful form of magic, only the magic it works is dark.”
“Practice deliberate gratitude. Force it and fake it if you must. When you look again, after practicing gratitude, you will see that we—and our circumstances—have shifted into a different place.”

Participants’ Reflections:

  • I loved the words about sparkling inner lights. It reminds me of a mason jar with bright lights in it that I put out during Christmas. My higher being is inner light. During the meditation, I envisioned everyone having their inner lights stringing together and connected. It seems right. It’s a great image. What you said about seeing others as we are. I like the idea of seeing people’s inner light.

  • I loved the inner altar image. During the meditation, I was building my altar, putting places that are meaningful to me. I asked what makes them meaningful, maybe because of the people I connect with or the place or because it was relaxing. And I put people there, people from my childhood and from now. It was great.

  • The idea of an inner altar is a beautiful idea. You can bring it wherever you go, hang out with it. During the meditation, I thought about what to put in it, from the past, the present, even the future. Future things could be places you want to go or a trait you want to hold, like having the quality of peace of mind.

  • So nice to be at this altar with these people. It reminds me of a song about praises for the beauty of our beings. When we are in gratitude, life blossoms in ways it cannot when we are negative. Raise and praise: we raise our energy when we praise.

  • The idea of deliberate gratitude breaks a negative habit. When people are negative, it hurts and it’s contagious. It’s contagious internally. When I’m in a negative spiral, I have to yank myself out of it. I build altars everywhere, but I’ve never thought of building an inner altar. During the meditation, I sat on the lap of the mother goddess. Usually, I go looking for her outside of myself. During the meditation, my vision directed inward, looking for her, not outwards. This was very comforting.

  • Both altars are incredible. I know what I must do.

  • During the meditation, I pictured three flames, one for myself, one for my son, and one for my daughter. And there was also a flame for my close friend who passed. And also lots of little flames for others and nature. I have pain in my heart. I was glad I saw the flames and not the all-encompassing pain I’ve felt. I do practice deliberate gratitude. Thank you will come out of mouth. I was tired driving and almost cut someone off; I thanked the angels watching over me.

  • I liked the image of a bowl of gratitude. I envisioned it as a big bowl, abundance.

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