The Moon Times

March 2018

a letter released around the full moon
sharing thematic teachings, news & affirmations to
cultivate psycho-spiritual wellness, creativity & community

The theme of this moon cycle is

  • love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person, activity, or cause.
  • religious worship or observance.
  • prayers
"Whether we realize it or not, at every moment we stand devoted to something—something which we cherish above all others. It may be money, a job, a person, an ideal, or our own comfort, but whatever it is, it's the thing to which we orient all our resources, all our interest, and all our hope."
Choosing the object of your devotion

What are you devoted to?

Dearest reader,

This "moon times" letter comes with the waxing crescent... I've been sitting quietly on this theme of "Devotion," processing how my actions, ideals, implicit biases and habits all reflect that which I'm actually devoted to, and how it can all be a resource.

In this reflection, I've realized that I'm devoted to some pretty beautiful things like knowledge of self and cultivating community; as well as to some stale narratives that don't serve me, like fears of rejection or a victim mentality...more on this later.

"Devotion" resonated as the theme for this moon cycle because our devotions consciously and subconsciously determine our actions, and our actions bring about change, healing or harm. Inviting space to reflect and possibly clarify our devotions seems more important than ever, so that we can move forward with more clarity and alignment with our deepest values. In writing this letter, I wanted to bring more personal consciousness and meaning to the motions I take on a daily basis, and practice to see the deeper purpose within my actions. Anyway, take what serves you and leave the rest.

The intention of this newsletter is to, through the concept of devotion, encourage awareness of our thoughts and actions; where do we pour our love, enthusiasm, worship, and observance into- from sacred to profane?
In reflecting on my "devotions," I wanted to clarify what I'm devoted to in theory and action, explore what veils me from my devotions, and actionable and devotional practices that help me reclaim and cultivate clarity around my devotions. Sharing 3 personal, interpersonal and systemic devotions in answering these questions:
  • What are the objects of your devotion- personally, interpersonally and systemically?
  • What hijacks or clouds your devotion?
  • How do you cultivate and reclaim your devotion?
#devotions #revelations #reminders
Objects of my devotion Hijackers of my devotion Cultivators of Devotion

Expanding knowledge of self, exploring my light and shadows, deepening self-compassion to increase compassion for all beings
Cue in Knowledge of Self by Black Star

My name in Sanskrit translates to “awareness” or “consciousness,” which means that I’m both deeply awake and painfully sensitive to things.
It’s felt like my life’s work to alchemize my sensitivity to compassion, and my self-consciousness to divine-consciousness. Over the last few years, I’ve used visual affirmation art as a platform to transform my highest visions and deepest pains into tangible and heartfelt tools.

“Without inner revolution outer action is repetitive.”
-J. Krishnamurthi


Feelings of overwhelm
My feelings can be flooding, sometimes I get swept up by them without rationale. The inner teenager takes over at times too with sulking tantrums, not wanting to give much regard to anyone.

Fear of self
I can be petrified rather than inspired by my power, responsibility to and influence over certain people and situations. I don’t always have faith that I am deserving, righteous or worthy.
There are times when I cower under my own looming shadows. I can be jealous, judgmental and critical, and it often begins against my self.
A victim mentality
I can spend a lot of time overly-identifying with my flaws; seeping, like a teabag in bitter tea, in the narrative of my lackings. Over the last few years, my inner critic has been especially loud in berating my intelligence, imposterizing me among a beautiful community of scholars, teachers, leaders and stars.

Moving body

Moving however my body wants to "dance", running, climbing trees, and sweating it out in hot yoga help me expend excess energy that feels overwhelming.
Emotion can get lodged in our bodies.  Moving it out, allowing our bodies to express themselves naturally, powerfully, awkwardly, sensually or playfully is so sweet for release and transition.
Chanting, in my experience so far, is a powerful meditative and devotional practice, I’ve been chanting namu myōhō renge kyō, which is a vow and expression of determination to manifest our Buddha nature.
Distraction in balance
Any distraction that gets my mind off my own mind can help, so long as I’m not consistently running away from myself.
I love a good soothing box to delve into items that caress my senses and invoke memories of loved ones and cherished moments; including visual art, good music, shea butter, a favorite ritual, or a resonating quote.

RAIN Meditation
Tara Brach's RAIN meditation to sit and move through difficult emotion.

R – Recognize what is happening
A – Allow life to be just as it is, holding
I – Investigate inner experience with kindness
N – Non-Identification / release attachment
Serving and sharing in community
I come from a strongly collectivist culture and my primary years were spent under the same roof as my grandparents, parents, uncles and aunts in South Africa. Moving at age 7 with my nuclear family 10,000 miles away a to a foreign land where we sought belonging for many years, my child self had to quickly adapt to new and deepened levels of privacy, longing and loneliness.
Living in a Berkeley Cooperative these last few years has taught me so much about communal living. I’ve been living among folk who care deeply about sharing in community, co-creating, tending to and harvesting the earth by gardening and composting and recycling, and learning how to create space for diverse people who come and go.


Fears of rejection

My fear of rejection can be so potent sometimes that it keeps me tight in a bulb with no desire to be honest and vulnerable. In these cases, I often allow the “safety” of staying quiet, inward and solitary. I wait for others to take the lead or invite me into the space, so as to not make any “wrong” moves. 
Ego: the need to be superior

My ego, and the collective ego (society’s propensity to put us against one another in competition), is the single most inhibiting thing to community in my life; it’s divisive and hierarchical. It separates me in my mind from others, telling me “I’m better” than someone else because of what I think I know, have or do; it also tells me that “I’m worse” than someone else because of what he/she/they seems to know, has or does. These narratives have kept me self-centered and disconnected.

There's so much more here; the ego's need to feel special/superior may be the theme of exploration for a future moon.

Recognize your attachment style
According to attachment theory (a framework that albeit Western, shifted my perspective on myself in relationship), our attachment styles are determined by the responsiveness of and separation from our primary caregivers in the first few years of our lives.

I've seen the attachment styles be broken down like this:
  • Secure: “Being close is easy!”
  • Anxious-preoccupied: “I want to be emotionally intimate with people, but they don’t want to be with me!”
  • Dismissive-avoidant: “I’d rather not depend on others or have others depend on me!”
  • Fearful-avoidant: “I want to be close, but what if I get hurt?”
These ways of relating early on affect us in our adult relationships, and we can learn and develop a secure attachment style.

Cultivate humility
I love being with humble people; they hold an aura of nonjudgment, groundedness and open-heartedness. Humble folk can gracefully embrace abundance without making it their identity or expectation.

Humility helps us offer greater generosity, helpfulness, and gratitude, all things that draw us closer to others.

 “As I have said, the first thing is to be honest with yourself. You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself…Great peacemakers are all people of integrity, of honesty, and humility.”
-Nelson Mandela

Bringing the healing arts into public schools to empower young people
Public school could be significantly more empowering; we could learn so much more about the wisdom of our bodies and spirits, in addition to our minds. School could do so much better of a job to honor our natural propensity to move, work with one another, be in nature, and express ourselves in various ways beyond scantron tests and fill-in-blank worksheets.
I love creating more space in local public high schools where young people, especially girls of color, can creatively express through visual art, song, and body movement, while learning more about the eternal intelligence within.
Going through the public education system in California as a student, I came out feeling dejected and unintelligent. I see and hear similar sentiments in many of my students whose unconventional wisdom in intrapersonal, kinesthetic, emotion or spatial intelligence for example are not equally honored or affirmed by the system that’s gravely influencing their success.

Bureaucracy of education

Regulations and laws on the creativity and empathy of school faculty are shackling. Interactions between faculty and students can be stoic and cold; They're trained to mute or stifle our empathy in order to following “due process.” Teachers and counselors are instructed never the touch or embrace a struggling student no matter what, in fear of being sued or misconstrued- can we be more trusting of emotional intelligence than that?
Capitalism & competition
When we have to compete to give resources like education, wellness services, time and space to young people and faculty, it's really hard not to burn out and be crippled by scarcity.

Internalized patriarchy

One of the most dis-empowering things I hear from young women is their competition and fight against other young women for attention and approval from certain people (specifically boys). The cultural norm among many of the teens I've spoken with is trading in friends for crushes, which only intensifies their isolation, fragmented and low self-esteem.


“Love is the small death, and love gains it loveliness only through care, where this means a self’s systemic devotion to the object of the practice most fitting its character. Through care the self is able to cast aside its ego, thus altering itself, this sacrifice of ego then being the basis of the self’s own ennobling…Ego-centricity has been cast aside and space made for a more expanding self, a self able to care for the other.”
-The Poetics of Philosophy (A Reading of Plato), David Ross

Focus on inspiration and collaboration with other organizations that are doing similar work

Some groups that I've been particularly inspired by lately are Holistic Life Foundation, bringing mindfulness and self-care practices into schools all over Baltimore, and YES!, influencing social change movements worldwide by convening transformational gatherings called Jams and building lasting partnerships with diverse social entrepreneurs.

 It's easy to take this collective work to refresh our systems of disempowerment personally, thinking that the burden is on any one person or that the faults of the systems are faults of me, or you.

We are not alone, we’re all in this together to shift our paradigms, refresh our traditions, teach and learn from one another. As long as we are each doing the deep work of an inner revolution, we are contributing to the outer revolution.

So dear reader, how would you reflect on these questions?
  • What are the objects of your devotion- personally, interpersonally and systemically?
  • What hijacks or clouds your devotion?
  • How do you cultivate and reclaim your devotion?
I'd absolutely love to hear from you.
Email me:
Upcoming events to explore devotion to self & others

This workshop explores how maintain our intention and awareness amidst the ever-flowing presence of transition in our lives.

Joined by wellness visionaries and teachers, Nkechi Njaka and Lauren Ash of Black Girl in Om; we'll reflect on mindful transition with yoga, conscious movement and expressive arts at the lovely shop-space Kosa Arts.
Chetna is facilitating workshops in high schools centered on arts and creative expression, self-reflection and self-empowerment. Click below to learn more about these workshops, and to support its expansion into more schools and organizations.
Stay tuned with the next full moon on March 31st
for The Moon Times - Issue 6
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