Spiritual Practice In The Most Bizarre Places

halloween-anusaraPicture this: It’s Halloween night in New Orleans. Downtown is throbbing with music, laughter, costumes and a penetrating ‘ting’ of one elf looking creature walking along as if in meditation.

Yep, that would be me. Complete with forest green cloak and a bit of petrified wood in my hair. This is the story of my fantastically weird night out in the wilds of the French Quarter, and how I brought light into even the darkest places.

To put everything in perspective, I have to back up a little. I had spent the day in an Anusara® yoga workshop with its founder John Friend.

The whole day was filled with meaning; the veil between the spirit world and this one are thin at this time of year. What does that mean? Well, for the full explanation of how honoring the past and planting seeds for the future comes into play here, read my article “The Twilight Of The Year”.

So I’d basically done 6 plus hours with John Friend of yoga, meditation, and potent intention building for bringing in light and a new year of goodness. It was from this place that I was unleashed upon an unsuspecting city…

…Ting… …Ting… …Ting…

tingshawsBefore I left home to head to the French Quarter I grabbed my tingshas. These are the little Tibetan chimes. They clear confused, distracting, or negative energies, and create a protective energy that is perfect for facilitating spiritual work.

Since my whole day had been dedicated to bringing light and blessings into the here and now, I didn’t think I should break that theme.

So as I entered the infamous French Quarter, the downtown area of New Orleans seeped in beauty and history, I stopped here and there to ring the tingshas.

One of the great things about New Orleans is that there is so much weirdness here that you can pretty much do whatever you want without anyone looking at you too strangely. It gives you a sort of permission to explore who you want to be, and this can be done with or without the copious amounts of alcohol available everywhere.

In my case, I choose clarity and stay sober, ‘cause really my yoga practice gets me beautifully and naturally high, and my body doesn’t play well with booze.

A Voodoo Zombie Wedding

Shortly after I entered the Quarter I heard drums coming from a big group of people in the middle of a street that had been blocked off. I half danced, half walked over to see what was happening.

After dancing for a while to the drums (played by some of the most beautiful people from a band named Bamboula) the music stopped and a woman began to speak.

“All the zombies come in closer,” she said, and proceeded to tell us all to make way for the people dressed as zombies, who were apparently the invited attendees of the voodoo-zombie wedding I’d just wandered into.

Say what?!

A Voodoo-Zombie wedding. Yep. It’s for real.

Just when I thought New Orleans had shown me it’s most bizarre, I wander into a new outrageously amazing experience. When I commented as such to a nearby gentleman he said “This is why we live here.” I had to agree with him.

The bride and groom were stunningly costumed. They both were wearing very nice clothes but totally looked like they’d just climbed out of their graves. The groom stayed in character through the whole ceremony, and when the cake came out they threw it around pretending it was brains.

I ended up staying there for an hour, at least. The energy around this wedding was awesome; bright with love and laughter. I had SO much fun!

The vampire conducting the wedding was fantastic, saying things like “We are here to celebrate the newly dug up bride and groom,” and, “Us vampires are always having to keep you zombies in line,” when rearranging the crowd.

Here’s a video to give you a taste of the fun:

This video is courtesy of Kathy Tilley.

Brightening Up Bourbon Street

After the wedding was finished I wandered my way through the lights and shadows going “ting, ting, ting” with my Tingshas, and generally bestowing blessings on everyone who went by, each tree I passed, and New Orleans itself.

Soon I found myself at Bourbon Street; the center of overindulgence, debauchery and the habitually weird.

The costumes were phenomenal. I’d love to show you photos, but I forgot my camera (thought I had it with me but, alas, I did not) and had to practice non-attachment to just be there and enjoy everything without snapping pictures.

Suffice it to say that if you can think it, I saw it: Giant men dressed in short sequenced dresses, a 3 foot high yellow wig, the whole mad crew from Alice In Wonderland, a lovely black man in a white suit with pink leather chaps, and Woodstock the bird from the Peanuts cartoon.

I walked around laughing, and all the while going “ting, ting, ting”. In my heart I whispered things like “May any confused spirits find peace and go into the light,” and “May every person here know the light of their heart.”

I felt the potency of these blessings ripple out and shift the vibrations of the night. I knew that the work I was doing then, and the powerful work we’d all done with John earlier in the day was all contributing to the transformation of darkness to light.

Om bhur bhuvah svah…

After a while, it was time to head back, as I’d seen and done what I wanted and still had another 6 hours of yoga workshop the next day.

As I walked by Jackson Square, the central park area, I looked in to see that beyond the closed gates there were pieces of cardboard with small mountains of cat food on them and some kitties nearby. There are many feral feline communities in New Orleans that are cared for by volunteers, I had just never thought of one being in Jackson Square.

I stopped, drew close to the rod iron fence, and started singing.

Om bhur bhuvah svah

Tat savitur varenyam

Bhargo devasya dhimahi

Dhiyo yonah prachodayat

I sang the Gayatri Mantra to those cats, to the trees, to the people around, and sent it out across the whole city and beyond into the world. “May all beings be illuminated by the light of spirit and the song of peace,” I thought.

I kept singing the whole way back to my car. The people walking beside me, in front of me, and behind me smiled at me if they even took notice. Like I said, you can be whoever you want to be here. There is such diversity in New Orleans, it’s like coming home to the world of possibility.

I hope this made you smile. To me it was a night I will never forget.

  • If you liked the article, have comments or questions about New Orleans, or want to share a Halloween story yourself, please post them below!

4 thoughts on “Spiritual Practice In The Most Bizarre Places

  1. I love you!

  2. Beaming love back at’cha. Yes, I know, I’m one of a kind. However, there are many light workers doing various jobs as energetic clean-up crew and overall brightening. I just happened to choose a wild and odd place and time for this little mission. Ah, life can be so much fun. 🙂

  3. great story. I think I could hear your “ting” in the video! I would LOVE to visit New Orleans.. someday.
    My Halloween was full of super heros with great big super hearts. We went to Caravan Theater near Enderby and were totally entertained by some very creative actors and musicians.

  4. Nice! I like the sound of that – “super heros with great big super hearts.” Sounds like a lot of fun!

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