Creating Space in Meditation

One of my meditation clients asked me recently if I would write about the concept of space and its importance in meditation. I’m grateful for what is sure to be a challenge, so here goes.

Let’s start with a definition. Space is one of the five elements along with earth, air, fire, and water. Also referred to as ether, space is both a container for all that is and a vast expanse and emptiness. The experience of space, at least for me, is a key component that arises out of meditation practice.

Form does not differ from Emptiness
And Emptiness does not differ from Form.

Form is Emptiness and Emptiness is Form.*

As an element, or something of which we ourselves are comprised, if we have an imbalance of ether, either too much or too little, we will experience that symptomatically. Too much and we may feel literally “spacey” or have difficulty concentrating. Too little and we may be quite preoccupied with insignificant details or feel lack of divine connection. A balance of the element results in harmony and inspiration.

So, I don’t want to give the impression in writing about space in meditation that there is anything one should or must do in order to experience or foster space. Space is always there. We simply need to be aware of it. But if you’ll forgive me, I will bring the reader’s attention to three aspects of space for contemplation.

BODY

While we meditate, our breath itself can be the entry point to our awareness of space as we feel the space of the lungs filling and emptying. We can bring our attention to all the empty spaces in the body…between the bones, the organs, between the cells, and even between the atoms of the cells. When we feel pain, we can work to bring our breath and a sense of spaciousness into the pain and notice any shifting that results. As we sit still, we can turn our attention toward the body in space and feel how our awareness expands beyond the body.

MIND

We can also bring our attention to the space within the mind. This is accessible through the senses, such as noticing the bed of silence upon which sounds in the environment are occurring, for example, or by noticing that one perceives a smell in the room and how that odor might originate in one location and spread upon air molecules through the open space to our nostrils. We can also utilize an awareness of passing thought. When we place our attention on the silence and the gap between, it is as if we are expanding space. It seems to grow. But as I’ve said, it was always there. With this cultivated spaciousness in the mind, we can question our thoughts and inquire into our true nature.

SPIRIT

The final point, if there was a final point, could be said to be the expansion of spirit. It is the recognition that we are, in fact, both within and without that very spaciousness that we are noticing. We are both form and formlessness.

Finally, I will share a message that came to me in a dream the night that mother died. She was quite ethereal but unmistakable herself, yet she didn’t speak. We stood at a window, the sill at about waist height. She pointed with great insistence to a spot on the window sill, as if it held great importance. I followed her finger, gazing at the tiny details of dust particles that had collected. And then, we began to rise off the ground, her finger still pointing, but as we rose, more and more came into my awareness. From a focal point of a spec of dust, to the color of the paint, to the panes of glass, to the frame itself, and outward. Up and up we went, my awareness expanding to include more and more, out from the window now, to the wall, to the house, to the city, to the country, to the earth, to the sky, to the universe…and every detail was contained within the space, but the space was eternally expanding and more and more inclusive and aware of not only everything inside of itself, but of itself as well.

Rather than impose any further interpretation of this dream on you, I will refrain and let you sit with it yourself.

Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha*

(Gone, gone, gone to the Other Shore, attained the Other Shore having never left)

*from the Heart Sutra

Wait! Stop Trying to Meditate!

Despite that fact that there is now almost daily new evidence that supports the importance of and benefits received from meditation practice, there is still a lot of resistance to actually doing it. I’d like to take a look at that today. Why is it that so many people, often the people who need it the most, believe they can’t meditate or think it cannot help them?

I’m not saying it is the answer to everything nor am I claiming that one size fits all. (The latter idea is as far from my philosophy as it could be!) However, I do believe with every inch of my being that there is a form of meditation available for everyone be it through physical yoga, chanting, mindfulness, music, breathing, mudra, cooking, painting… One just has to discover what works best and then approach the activity with the proper intent.

So, what exactly are the reasons that come up for why people don’t want to meditate?

I can’t sit still that long!

I’ve heard a lot of people lay claim to this. The idea of “doing nothing”, even for 10 minutes, is too much to bear. The moment a person sits still, all the feelings, thoughts, and problems that she’s been pushing away with constant activity come flowing in like a tidal wave. It isn’t a comfortable feeling.

Early one, when I was forced to silently meditate sitting with my teachers years ago, I would be in absolute hell waiting for them to just get on with the teachings. I would hear myself begging for it to come to an end. Somewhere along the way, that agony left me. Gone. No trace. Poof!

Restlessness is a completely expected stage of meditation, often much worse in the beginning, but it also comes and goes throughout a lifetime of practice. (I can still feel restless from time to time.) If you aren’t willing to work through it, you are giving it power over you. If this is your sole reason for avoiding meditation, I urge you to simply sit with the resistance. The payoff is so worth it!

It’s boring.

There are those who experience meditation as boring. Being still, following the breath, focusing on the body is not enough to entertain the raging monkey that is the mind. These types tend to need constant stimulation and input. They need the radio or TV on, even if they aren’t listening or watching. What do they think all that stimulation is doing? It is distracting them. It is stealing their energy and making it harder for them to know themselves. It is filling them up with worthless noise and making it impossible for them to hear their own answers. It has trained them away from the subtle of life to such an extent that they actually believe the universe could ever be boring!

I actually feel worse when I meditate. My mind is so loud!

Similar to reason number one, this resistance presents itself when people have a misunderstanding of what meditation actually is. They think they are supposed to have no thoughts at all, a blank and quiet mind. But that just isn’t realistic. The stream of thought is incessant. But it doesn’t really matter. It’s a misconception to think one isn’t meditating if one is thinking. Let the thoughts come. Watch them as they do. Then watch them as they morph and go. They are fleeting even if they are torrential! Don’t give them your attention and run around trying to extinguish them. Let them be. You keep quiet!

I’m too busy/I don’t have time.

This is such an empty argument. All it means is that the person doesn’t really want to do it. Sure, meditating for 20-40 minutes is ideal, but even 5 minutes before bed is better than nothing, and I’m sorry but everybody has 5 minutes before bed. Heck, even 3 minutes of focusing on the breath and body is sure to impact your sleep and dreams in a positive way.

I meditate on my own.

There’s nothing wrong with this. I meditate on my own all the time. But when I have groups at the house, I am always blown away by the force in numbers. I’m inspired by their challenges, insights, and energies, and I am often amazed at the depth of my own meditation when others are present and we are all supporting one another. The experience is enhanced. So, if you find yourself making excuses not to go to a meditation group or class, ask yourself if you are cheating yourself of a deeper experience. There is a reason that Buddha made the Sangha one of the three refuges.

Meditation is a waste of time.

Perhaps they’ve tried and “failed”, or they’ve never even bothered to try; they’ve simply decided. Really, if someone holds this idea, then they probably just aren’t ready to meditate for whatever reason, be it deep-seated fear, religious judgment, or some self-sabotaging beliefs. But it is based on a misconception. Meditation cannot be a waste of time. It can only be wasted.

The gifts one receives from a regular meditation practice are so glorious and liberating (and yes, challenging and difficult at times), but if you remain blocked by any of the above excuses, they are a treasure you will never discover. But don’t “try” and work through these blocks; none of these block, not even the latter, are substantial. Stop trying so hard. Meditation is an effortless state of simply being.

Don’t worry. You’ll find your way. Only you can!

 

 

Carl Jung

“He who looks in the mirror of the water, first sees his own image. He who looks at himself, risks to meet himself. The mirror does not flatter, it shows accurately what is reflected in it, namely that face that we never show the world because we hide it by the persona, the mask of the actor. This is the first test of courage on the inner path, a test, which is enough to frighten most people, because the encounter with oneself belongs to those unpleasant things, one avoids as long as one can project the negative onto the environment.”

Carl Jung

Meditation: Beyond the Trend

medI recently came across a fascinating article about how different types of meditation affect the brain differently written by

The article distinguishes two main types of meditation: directive and nondirective. For the sake of clarity here, directive meditation requires a focusing of the mind on something whether it be one’s breath, an object, or a thought. Nondirective meditation, on the other hand, allows the mind to rest or wander freely. In other words, there is very little effort mental exerted.

The research discovered that those in the study practicing nondirective meditation actually had more neural activity than the directive group.

Nondirective meditation led to higher activity than during rest in the part of the brain dedicated to processing self-related thoughts and feelings. When test subjects performed concentrative meditation, the activity in this part of the brain was almost the same as when they were just resting.

These results suggest that nondirective meditation is more helpful when it comes to processing our thoughts and feelings. If the whole point of one’s meditating is to “know thyself”, then it is clear which form of meditation would be more beneficial.

Last night, my meditation group worked with a Gyatri Mantra meditation, listening to a drone and powerful chanting created by one of my favorite online resources for chants, Dr. Nipun Aggarwal. Afterwords, one of my fellow meditators wanted to know whether what we had just done was the first type, directive, or second type, nondirective type of meditation.

I realized that it wasn’t so much the technique as it was the meditator that would determine which “type” of meditation was experienced. This woman expressed that she was mentally focused on counting the lines of the mantra and so felt as though it was a directive meditation. I, though, had had a nondirective experience allowing the sounds of the mantra to simply wash over me. Thoughts came and went. I do remember at one point turning my attention toward the practice of circulating energies of the Microcosmic Orbit, so there was for several minutes, a more directive experience for me as well.

This all has me asking more questions. Is is possible that these two forms of meditation, or what are classed and treated as two distinct forms of meditation, are really only one form of meditation experienced at different levels of ability? Is the goal, in other words, always nondirective meditation? Assuming the person meditating is doing it to “wake up” to the self, then wouldn’t nondirective meditation be a higher form of meditation than anything directive? In fact, what are the benefits of a more directive form of meditation if such a form doesn’t help us process our thoughts and feelings? It is merely reduced then to a form of relaxation or exercise for the mind?

I recently shared a post on Facebook how meditation is a growing trend. I commented that I was happy to see more and more people learning to meditate but not at all happy it was “trendy”. One of my friends asked me why: More people are exposed to it with greater benefit; what’s bad about that?

At the time, I didn’t much feel like trying to explain how when things go trendy, especially spiritual things, they also get watered-down and greatly misunderstood. It happened with yoga, and now, while there are of course those who do understand, many turn to yoga as a mere physical challenge, completely and ironically ignoring the body in the process. It is likely to happen with meditation as well. If people do not understand the differences between directive and nondirective meditation, there is a grave danger in masses of people thinking they are meditating when all they are actually doing is concentrating and bending the mind to will. Worse yet, there will be those who take The Mystery out of meditation completely sterilizing it in the process. I’m not saying just because it is trendy that people won’t benefit from meditation. That didn’t even cross my mind (until someone I know explained that’s how they read this). I just want everyone to have a chance to experience the best that any meditation has to offer.

Setting aside the “trend” debate, everything has its place. We all have to start somewhere, and often, directive forms of meditation are the easiest. It’s where I started. I suspect it’s where most of us start. I’m not claiming to know that nondirective meditation is somehow superior to directive forms, either. I’m merely asking the questions and sensing what has been true for me. I love many different forms of meditation, including directive. But I must say, for me, the most transformative of experiences have been resting in the wide (and wise)  open space of the self, being still but observant, free from efforting, concentrating, and controlling anything. It took a nondirective practice for me to experience that.

 

Osho Quote

“If you can become a mirror you have become a meditator. Meditation is nothing but skill in mirroring. And now, no word moves inside you so there is no distraction.”

Osho

 

Paul Morand

“Mirrors are ice which do not melt: what melts are those who admire themselves in them.”

Paul Morand

Elizabeth Gilbert

“A true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.”

~Elizabeth Gilbert,  from Eat, Pray, Love

Mirrors in Magic

Mirrors have a historical starring role in magic shows. Illusionists use them to create their spellbinding, entertaining deceptions, making things like an elephant disappear or levitate. Of course, all but the more basic of tricks are carefully guarded secrets. What fun is a magic trick if you already know how it is done? Don’t worry. I’m not going to give away much. Mostly because I can’t! Instead, I’ll just share a brief introduction of mirrors in magic.

Mirrors can strategically bounce light in different directions and make one think one is seeing what he or she isn’t. Mirrors can also conceal what is hidden behind them. Add controlled light to the mix, and you have the ability to fool the eye and convince the mind of all kinds of things.

Magicians aren’t the only…um…magicians who use mirrors. Mirrors are used in theatre and film (and increasingly in art) for special effects as well. To get a taste of what they can do, check out this brief video introducing mirror magic and this link of surprising mirror art.

If you do want to know more about how a couple of traditional mirror tricks were done (and are still done), check out this cool link or this one.

As far as Mirror Spiritus is concerned, it’s all light and mirrors. The world we see around us, the life we live, is the grandest illusion of all.

Kahlil Gibran

“Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror. But you are eternity and you are the mirror.”

Kahlil Gibran

The Chinese Magic Mirror

I’d never seen or heard of a Chinese magic mirror, not until investigating the use of mirrors in magic for this site. I didn’t get far in my research, because I became fascinated with this ancient art. When I first read about it, I had a hard time wrapping my head around the concept. Seeing was believing; this video made it quite clear:

The magic mirror dates back to the Han Dynasty of China (that’s about 206 BC to 24 AD). They are made of polished bronze on one side and an intricate design on the other. When one holds up the polished side to a light source, the symbols on the back side are projected mysteriously, as if the whole thing is transparent.

Apparently, some mirrors exist that actually project an entirely different or secret image than the one carved into the back of the mirror. Fascinating! Now I want one!

The Sun King & His Hall of Mirrors

sunThe French king, Louie the XIV unveiled for us the immensely beautiful Hall of Mirrors (also known as the Galerie des Glaces) in his palace at Versailles in 1684. This hallway was a tribute to light, decorated with 17 grand windows opposite 17  mirrored arches with dazzling chandeliers dripping from the ceiling and gleaming silver furniture. There are actually 578 total mirrors in the room. Can you imagine? Some components of the hall were sold to help finance the war in 1689, but much of it remains intact for lucky visitors today.

The hall was constructed to signify France as a powerful cultural and economic center, but it also served to magnify life in court. Mirrors were a symbol of wealth, and not just because of their great expense. They radiated light. Indeed, Versailles was a symbol of the center of the Universe from which all power emanated outward. It was Louie himself who chose the symbol of the sun to represent him, thus staking claim to his nickname, The Sun King. The hallway was used regularly for family and court functions and as a daily passageway. What would Feng Shui have to say about that!? And could we please all meet for a mirror meditation there?

Interestingly, the Hall of Mirrors is located between the Hall of War and the Hall of Peace, in which the Treaty of Versailles was signed many years later, bringing an end to the first world war in 1918.

To learn more about this lavish and fascinating building and time in French history, visit The Chateau Versailles.

Shakti Gawain

“The people we are in relationship with are always a mirror, reflecting our own beliefs, and simultaneously we are mirrors, reflecting their beliefs… one of the most powerful tools for growth…”

Shakti Gawain

Mirror Superstitions

Many of us know that if we break a mirror, it is considered to be 7 years bad luck, but I’ve never met anyone who could tell me why. Fortunately, I’ve never had the misfortune. Have you? Even if you have, I’m pretty sure you can relax and lay to rest the age-old superstition which dates back (at least) to our Roman ancestors. (I say at least because there were many ancient cultures with similar beliefs about the mirror and it’s ability to reveal the soul.) The idea stemmed from a belief they held that A) mirrors did indeed reflect the soul and B) life renewed every seven years. To break a mirror would damage the soul that was reflected in it at the time. Mirror Spiritus suspects our souls are a lot more resilient!

mirrorpieces
Image Source: Flickr Photo by: Orin Optiglot

Still, this superstition really got around. Early American slaves were not immune. In their case, they had the perfect antidote. You could wash away those 7 years with 7 hours of soaking the shards in a river heading south.

The superstitions surrounding mirrors involve more than broken pieces however. Some believe death is close by when a mirror falls and breaks by itself. Others are fearful of mirrors in a room where someone has died, lest they catch a glimpse of themselves, as this portends another visit from the angel of death…for the viewer! In Feng Shui, mirrors should be hung at the perfect height to avoid headaches which can occur if the top of one’s head is cut off in the mirror. I have to wonder if that’s superstition or just common sense. And for all you thespians out there, you might be familiar with the belief that looking into a mirror over someone else’s shoulder is likely to bring about some bad luck of your own.

Did you know that mirrors in Feng Shui are believed to absorb the negative energy in a room? That mirrors are used to contact the “other side” and tell the future? And did you know you should cover your mirrors at night lest your soul wander and get trapped on the other side? Did you know that a marriage will be happy if the newlyweds see each other in a mirror? Did you ever hear that burying pieces of a broken mirror could save you the years of bad luck? Or that a girl could catch a glimpse of her future mate by eating an apple and brushing her hair in front of the mirror?

The list of mirror superstitions goes on and on. One can’t help but wonder at the truth that is buried beneath all the fear. Could it be that mirrors really do hold some mystical, other-worldly power over man?

N…yeah, we don’t believe it either. Not because a mirror is an inanimate object with no mystical properties but because the stories and ideas of these properties has been blown so out of proportion with the truth. Take, for example, movies such as Oculus or Poltergeist, which have made mirrors symbols of horror.

We assert that the power remains in the one who uses the mirror as a tool…not within the mirror itself and definitely not with some “other side”. That isn’t to say they can’t help improve an environment or reveal some deeper truth to what they reflect. In fact, mirrors are just as equally symbols of self-knowledge, deep wisdom, and purity in literature and art. At Mirror Spiritus, we lean in this direction and away from fear-based superstitious nonsense. In the end, mirrors may indeed reflect the soul, and that is something to be embraced, not feared…unless you’re a vampire! ; )

 

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The Obsidian Mirror

“He said, ‘I am the Smokey Mirror, because I am looking at myself in all of you, but we don’t recognize each other because of the smoke in-between us. That smoke is the Dream, and the mirror is you, the dreamer.'”

~from a story by Don Miguel Ruiz

In ancient Mexico, mirrors were made out of polished iron pyrites and obsidian. Some say that the ancient people of Mexico used these polished mirrors, known as tezcatl, as tools of black magic. Um…black? Are they being literal? Because while it may have been used for magic, I doubt it was used exclusively for dark purposes. (Oh, the Western mind! Is there any hope for it.)  Just because the shamans used mirrors to travel and communicate with other realms hardly qualifies as black magic. These tezcatl were understood to be portals into other realms and likely used for healing, divination, burial ritual, and yes, in the wrong hands, for dark purposes. But put anything into the wrong hands and said humans will find a way to misuse it.

obsidianmirror
Image Source: Flickr Photo by: rvacapinta

The Mexican god, Tezcatlipoca, or “Smokey Mirror”, is often depicted with an obsidian mirror, sometimes replacing his right foot, sometimes at his head or chest. He is said to be the Lord of Sorcery, King of Rulers, and Lord of the Night, and through his mirror, he could see the true thoughts and motivations of man. For a whole new light on the dark lord of Tezcatlipoca, check out this beautiful story written by author of The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz. In it, Don Miguel weaves of tale of Smokey Mirror‘s awakening from the dream of the planet to discover the oneness of life. Though he attempted to share his new-found revelations with others, it was only to be misunderstood. Everyone else was still caught within the smoke…the dream of the planet that separates us from our truth. He knew he too would fall back into this dream state.

A Mexica (Meh-she-ka) mirror was one of several reflective objects used by 15/16th century astrologer and magician John Dee for divination practices. He had a fascination with mirrors as well as with supernatural and psychic phenomena. With the help of medium, Edward Kelly, Dee would transcribe messages that Kelly perceived “through the looking glass”. This mirror currently resides in the British Museum and is made of volcanic glass (obsidian).

To learn more about obsidian mirrors, check out these links:

The Getty Research Institute: Obsidian Mirror Travels

Mirrors in MesoAmerican Culture (most excellent and fascinating tidbits)

To read more of the myths of Tezcatlipoca:

Tezcatlipoca: Aztec God of Night, the North, and Sorcery

Tezcatlipoca on Wikipedia

 

Mirrors in Feng Shui

Ludwig von Langenmantel’s Woman in a Blue DressThere is an art to using Mirrors in Feng Shui and for good reason. They reflect the beauty around you (assuming you are indeed surrounded by beauty), put eyes in the back of your head (I loved my over-the-stove mirror that let me see what was happening behind me in my kitchen), and magnify the light, pushing or pulling chi. They have a reputation of being a cure-all, but as you’ll see from this blog, there are right ways and wrong ways to use mirrors inside your home.

We don’t often pay attention to what the mirrors in our homes are reflecting. Mirrors are typically meant to serve either a functional or simply decorative purpose, perhaps making a small room feel larger. But when we become more conscious of how we are using our mirrors, maybe some of that good-old Feng Shui luck and prosperity can come our way. If we don’t, we may end up with bad Feng Shui and bad luck! I remember looking at an apartment once. As soon as I opened the door, I suffered the shock of someone standing right at the door as I entered. Even if it was only my reflection, it made me jump. Not a good mirror placement and for more than one reason! This blog gives some very good tips about mirror placement.

Mirrors have fascinating qualities, not just expanding a room, as this blog reveals. They carry water energy and can help us stay in the flow. They can help us awaken and access our creativity, and they can repel the “bad energies” that come at us from all directions. But it isn’t just where the mirror is placed. There is also the consideration of the quality and condition of the mirror to ponder. Is it dirty, cracked, peeling? Such conditions can create or magnify problems for us as this blog shares.

Finally, one should also think about how a mirror is hung. Is it too high? Too low? This blog offers some good tips not only on hanging mirrors according to “good Feng Shui”, it also gives ideas on how to use mirrors to magnify your dreams and personal affirmations (what Mirror Spiritus is all about!).

Have you found a really cool way to use a mirror in your own home or life?

 

 

 

Mirrors and Traditions

The ways in which mirrors have been used throughout the centuries are fascinating. Surely, their importance in various world-wide traditions points to something quite archetypal regarding our reflection. Did our ancestors understand something we have forgotten? There are, of course, myriad superstitions regarding mirrors around the globe as well, but I’ll save those up for another post. Here, I focus on a few tidbits of mirrors and traditions.

Image Source: Flickr Photo by: dakinewavamon
Image Source: Flickr
Photo by: dakinewavamon

THE CELTS

The Celts were an artistic people with a love of metalwork and incidently, mirrors made of bronze, iron, or a combination of the two. Theses mirrors were decorated with the motifs of Celtic art frequently reproduced today and have often been recovered from graves begging the question, “What was their significance?” They are generally regarded as “status symbols” among wealthy women, but was there perhaps a more mystical purpose? Very few Celtic mirrors survive intact, and this wonderful website created by Stephen Markoff, has a collection of fascinating resources and pictures for you to peruse.

JEWISH CULTURE

In the Jewish religion, when a loved one passes, the mirrors of the home are covered while the family sits in mourning for a seven-day period in order to facilitate the transition of the departed from this world to the next. If the mirrors were not covered, it is believed the soul could become entrapped in this realm unable to transition to the “afterlife”. Of course, the more popular version of the meaning is that the bereaved should not be at all concerned with their appearance during mourning but should rather reflect inward. You can read more about the touching customs of Shiva here.

SERBO-CROATIAN CULTURE

Yet another culture that buries their dead with mirrors. Perhaps this Serbo-Croation tradition gives us insight into the significance of burial mirrors in the Celtic tradition. The purpose was two-fold: one) it was thought to prevent one’s spirit from wandering and two) it kept evil spirits from rising up, perhaps by providing them with a means of self-fascination in the grave.

MESOAMERICAN CULTURE

Status symbols of the elite and instruments of sorcerers, ancient mirrors have also been excavated from Maya tombs. Typically fashioned of iron or obsidian (volcanic glass), such mirrors have been found placed near the body (specifically the head, the chest, lower back, groin or feet) or at some distance from the body. Interestingly, the Mexican god, Tezcatlipoca, is often depicted with an obsidian mirror at his head, chest, or foot. What was the significance of these burial mirrors? Were they merely prized possessions for their beauty or reflective qualities or were they viewed as portals into other realms?

Do you know of any interesting cultural uses of mirrors?

 

Nichiren Daishonin

“A mind now clouded by the illusions of the innate darkness of life is like a tarnished mirror, but when polished, it is sure to become like a clear mirror, reflecting the essential nature of phenomena and the true aspect of reality.”

~Nichiren Daishonin

 

Shisha Embroidery

shishaDid you know? Shisha embroidery is the craft of sewing tiny mirroring objects to fabric. It originated in 17th century India (supposedly with the wife of Shah Jehan who built the Taj Mahal in her honor) eventually spreading throughout Asia and the Middle East. Interestingly, Native Americans are also known to have used mirrors to decorate their dress supposedly seeing them as symbols of wealth and prestige (though Mirror Spiritus has a much more spiritual theory on their usage by tribal cultures). Whether sewn on clothing or into domestic fabrics such as tablecloths and hangings, shisha is used in some cultures to throw off the “evil eye”, whether this was believed to happen because it reflected the evil away or because it dazzled and distracted, one cannot say. Mirror Spiritus finds shisha a delightful means of bringing more light into our world. (And the “evil eye” protection can’t hurt!) We feature some shisha throw pillows in our store and are keeping our eyes peeled for other exceptional products out there to feature in the future.

The mirrors most often represent the center of flowers or the eyes of animals. In wall hangings, they sometimes represent the ears of the Sun God or the breasts of Radha, so they aren’t random decoration traditionally. The video above demonstrates (in a rather meditative fashion) how the mirrors are affixed to fabric.

For those of you who have never had the privilege of seeing the Native American “Jingle Dance” live, take a look at this video. Though it is not related to Shisha in an obvious way, Mirror Spiritus would speculate that the numerous rows of shiny metal bells perform a similar function…to bring in more light and cast out darkness. What do you think?