What is embodied spirituality? 

Spirituality is generally related to the spirit and the non-material aspects of our existence, which is right, of course. And when we talk about incarnation, it is about the passage on earth, from birth to death. It is about our human, physical condition, with its spatio-temporal limitations. So how do you combine the two, spirituality and incarnation? Isn’t that a contradiction?

A woman, with her innate creative capacities, knows from her own experience how the sacredness of life, of Creation, is formed in matter, in the womb. And she is instinctively, intuitively connected to the earth, in which the seeds grow, in which a cyclical transformation of death and rebirth takes place from season to season. Earth, water, heat, air and light are all elements of growth that are offered to us. By who ?

How did we forget? How did we come to plunder the earth of its resources as if we were independent and sovereign? What is this pride that led us to the health crisis, economic crisis, but above all the ecological crisis that we are experiencing? What is this quest for more, always more? Having more than before and more than others. How can we believe that it is possible to be happy at the expense of others?

The concept of unity, so dear to spiritual traditions, and in particular to Sufism, is an answer. If we are one, we are interdependent, like a body. A member of the body cannot function independently of the other members. The hand needs 5 fingers. Each finger is different and each finger has its specific function. So it is with the whole body; the limbs that allow you to move, act, speak, hear, smell, and the organs that allow you to breathe, eat and digest. Our body is a masterful creation that cannot function cut off from an ecosystem, in this case from nature. Unity is in everything and everywhere and we experience it daily.

An embodied spirituality would therefore amount to remembering that we are one, that we need others and that our happiness depends on the happiness of all. Concretely, we are facing water and food challenges. The Coronavirus has taken us by surprise, but we cannot close our eyes to the alarming prognoses that predict a very uncertain future for our children. Unless we radically change direction.

The decisions we make to care for and save what’s left of life come from a place within us that can be described as highly spiritual. This place is called the heart; the heart which is able to love unconditionally and to forgive the worst injustices.  Woman know these injustices. They have endured them like the earth, for centuries. And they are ready to forgive, to start over, to rebuild, but not as before!

Going back to the earth, growing a vegetable garden, planting trees, building rainwater harvesting systems and rethinking the education of our children are today spiritual acts of great necessity. The spiritual term therefore takes a new form, a new flavor, and it is intrinsically connected to our incarnation.

The majority of humanity has evolved from matriarchy to patriarchy and the time has come to unite the two. In the matriarchy, a new generation followed blindly that of the former by continuing, without questioning, the traditions. In such a tribal society, the individual does not exist. Through patriarchy, individualism and self-centeredness was born; the I, the Me. We have learned to think for ourselves, until the mind has become our master. 

Are we ready to put our thinking skills and our technology at the service of the human community? What are we ready to let go of for the survival of all; humans, animals, plants and minerals? What would be the significance today of the role of Khalifa (lieutenant on earth), given to the human being? Are we not at the hour of repentance?

Humility would be a good guide in these times and what better example than the earth, the most humble of all. New professions are invented and the most humble professions are valued. The medical profession finally receives the deserved esteem. Cleaning aids, garbage collectors and delivery people too. And we come back to the trades of gardener, farmer, beekeeper and shepherd. Our children’s education must change to adapt to the new world, and education takes on a whole new meaning when we realize that we, as adults, are the creators of this new world.

Finally, I must say that I am optimistic and hopeful, because I see around me young people who are connected to the divine in a natural and spontaneous way and who are ready for change, because for them, the old world has never really been an option. Let us follow them, support them, let us go in their direction with the best of what we have to give; our love. 

With all my heart,

Aya Annika Skattum