Mirabai Starr – In the Footsteps of Teresa of Avila
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Open to the blessing of spiritual illumination, divine embodiment and inspired service by walking with the West’s most celebrated female mystic through the doorways of many spiritual traditions and into the heart of a direct relationship with the Beloved.
St. Teresa of Avila was not only one of the most revered mystics and saints in all of Christian history, she was also a remarkably human woman who liked to be liked, charmed her audiences with coquettish glee and approached life in a very practical, no-nonsense way.
She was born of Jewish parents and got involved in a real scandal as a teen (which sent her to the convent). She told jokes. She baked pastries. She walked the path of holy service with great joie de vivre and gusto for life.
St. Teresa shows us that we can go deep into rapturous communion with the Beloved and then manage our business affairs in the next breath. She shows us that we can drop into deep silence, tapping oceans of quietude, and then laugh and dance playfully with our friends, how to enter into the most advanced stages of spiritual realization…and come out still recognizably “normal,” and even splendidly ordinary!
And that is why the path she walked offers us so much invaluable insight and power as modern spiritual seekers.
By carefully tracing her path through each stage of opening, so beautifully charted in her mystical masterpiece, The Interior Castle, and following the stations of her journey home into the arms of the Beloved, we can illumine, inspire and ultimately realize our own spiritual destiny: to live as divine humans.
As she sat down to write a book summarizing her legacy teachings, Teresa was given a vision of the soul as a crystal palace with seven luminous facets. This became the foundation for one of the most powerful and enduring spiritual teachings of any religion in any age, as relevant today as it was when she received the transmission five centuries ago.
She saw the soul as “the most beautiful place in all creation” – so beautiful that the Beloved chooses the center of our being as his dwelling place, beckoning each of us into the innermost chamber of our own souls to have union with him. All that is required is that we turn inward, and then offer the fruits of our love-encounter to the world.
Teresa’s vision is thus more than an inspiring story. It is a roadmap for our awakening and our sacred service. Through her, we begin to see, know and realize our own full potential.
Lucky for us, St. Teresa is not shrouded in nearly so much mystery as more ancient spiritual teachers. Because of the detailed accounts she left behind in her autobiography, The Book of My Life, as well as an abundance of other writings we can actually apply the spiritual practices she used, read about her most intimate secrets and learn about the challenges and blessings of each stage of her spiritual path – giving us a more accurate map for our own journey home.
Finally, her humor and playfulness offer us an easily accessible and joy-filled example of where the spiritual path can lead, not to some far-off mystical land, but into the wonderful divine ordinariness of human life.
So if you want to live a divinely human life, there is perhaps no better spiritual being for you to study with than St. Teresa, and her passionate disciple, Mirabai Starr.
Through Teresa’s example, and Mirabai’s lucid guidance, you can deepen your own ecstatic relationship with the Beloved and begin to see, taste and feel the sacred in all you do.
You can expand your ability to serve the deepest needs of our day with passion.
You can learn how to walk a distinctly feminine path of realization that ultimately connects you even more deeply to the world.
You can learn to fuse body, heart, mind and soul into one sacred vessel for more love to pour into life.
If you want to take a richly rewarding journey through your inner interior landscape – your own “Interior Castle” – then the 7-month program In the Footsteps of St. Teresa of Avila has been designed precisely for you.
You will, quite literally, walk the path of awakening, healing and service that St. Teresa herself did. You will go through the devastation and the loss, the ecstasy and the opening, the shedding of old skins and the cracking wide of your heart, as you enter into communion with the Beloved under the wise, loving and intimate mentorship of Mirabai Starr.
Mirabai is not only one of the most respected scholars and translators of St. Teresa’s words and life, she is also a profound mystic herself – who is culturally Jewish, practices Buddhism, and even has a Hindu guru, all while being an expert on Christian mystics. Like Teresa, Mirabai has gone through the depths of initiatory fires, passing through the “Dark Night” and into the quiet ecstasy of communion with the Divine.
During the In the Footsteps of Teresa of Avila course, Mirabai will journey right alongside you, sharing the stories, engaging the deep questions, offering the practices and lighting the way to your own illumination through the seven stages of spiritual realization that St. Teresa traversed.
In this journey, you will learn far more about yourself and your own relationship with the Beloved. You will see yourself with new eyes, at once more exalted and more humble – recognizing more of the divine presence that lives and breathes through you, while also seeing just how small you are within the vast ocean of love.
You will learn how to establish a contemplative practice that is uniquely yours.
You will see how to use grief and heartbreak as portals into Divine truth.
You will find ways to engage your inner chamber of Divine source to be of service.
You will discover how to dissolve into your true self.
You will, in short, make real and lasting progress on your spiritual journey, in a community of profound dialogue, exploration, and support.
And you will discover that becoming a divinely ordinary human can be joyous, fun and filled with delight, as you learn not to check your humanness at the door but rather embrace the full-spectrum of your whole being.
This training is a rare opportunity to work with a renowned mystic and scholar at a much deeper level, as she lovingly guides you through practices for revealing the profound mysteries of your soul while also living each day as an authentic human in the world.
As you pass through each initiatory gateway, you will:
Gain a new understanding of what it means to be a feminine mystic.
Develop tools for spiritual discernment on the path.
Understand how to navigate the mystery of the Dark Night of the Soul.
Learn about the dynamic stages of the spiritual journey.
Learn to approach suffering as a form of alchemical transfiguration.
Develop a plan from your innermost chamber to be of service.
Learn to enter communion through the gateway of silence.
What You’ll Learn in These 7 Months
In this 7-month transformational course, Mirabai will guide you into the heart of an ecstatic relationship with the Beloved, utilizing St. Teresa’s illuminating map for awakening and sacred service, so you can learn to experience the rapturous heights of spiritual realization while also remaining fully rooted in the groundedness of your humanity.
Each contemplation and training session will build harmoniously upon the next, so that you’ll develop a complete, holistic understanding of the practices, tools and principles you’ll need to awaken and sustain your spiritual illumination, divine embodiment and inspired service.
Station 1 – Turning Inward
Discipline and Self-Knowledge
(Recorded Dec. 4, 11, 18, Jan. 8)
The gateway to the interior realms is a contemplative practice. By our willingness to shift our awareness within and rest in stillness and silence, we begin to disengage from the lure of thoughts and embrace the truth of what is. Once we open to the sacred suchness of the moment, a clearer sense of self naturally arises, and we are empowered to look upon our authentic essence with humility and appreciation.
In this module, you will:
Establish a regular contemplative practice that fits with your unique way of being.
Learn methods for self-inquiry that help you be present to what is.
Come to understand what it means to be a contemplative, and apply those values to your daily life (not limited to formal meditation practice).
Experience the infusion of the sacred into the ordinary when you commit to a contemplative path.
Develop courage to face the obstacles that arise when you commit to the spiritual path.
Featured Practice: Make a commitment to sit in silence and stillness on a regular basis, whether half an hour every morning or 10 minutes three times a week. Recognize that meditation is not about not thinking – it’s about being present to what is, allowing a spaciousness to open around your thoughts and feelings, an ability to bear witness to your own experience, and “not believe everything you think.
Station 2 – Love Letters from the
Synchronicity and Discernment
(Recorded Jan. 15, 22, 29, Feb. 5)
As we become more intimate with our inner landscape, the clamor of the external world diminishes and the song of the soul grows clearer. We are more able to distinguish between superficial dogma and living wisdom. We begin to recognize the voice of the Beloved in the books we read, in the spiritual talks we listen to, in deep dialogue with loved ones and spontaneous conversations with strangers. Everywhere we turn we seem to receive confirmation of the exact teaching we need, and the interconnections fill us with wonder.
In this module, you will:
Develop increased discernment for determining the validity of various teachings.
Open to receiving the abundant messages from the Beloved you need to guide you on your path.
Heighten your receptivity to synchronicities in your life and their gifts.
Deepen your commitment to spiritual practice, even when it doesn’t produce the spiritual “highs” that initially motivated you on your path.
Featured Practice: Engage in deep reflection on a chosen sacred scripture, poem, piece of music, film, or audio or video teaching that moves you. Journal your response.
Station 3 – Dark Night of the Soul: Knowing by Unknowing (Recorded Feb. 12, 26, March 5, 12)
Sometimes we take the spiritual life too seriously. We learn some things, have a few epiphanies, sacrifice our comfort for the rigors of practice, and begin to think we know the Truth. We put the Holy One into a box and smother it. Everything that once brought inspiration then feels dry and empty. This is our opportunity to surrender our belief systems and rest in the Mystery.
In this module, you will:
Soften around your cherished belief systems to allow for new perspectives.
Gain a new understanding of what mysticism really is.
Study the spiritual teachings of The Dark Night of the Soul from John of the Cross for guidance on navigating spiritual emptiness.
Become truly comfortable with the many blessings of groundlessness.
Featured Practice: Make a list of the spiritual practices and religious concepts you feel most attached to-either through inherited conditioning or personal experience. Create a corresponding list of questions and challenges for each. Journal the fruits of this inquiry.
Station 4 – Prayer of Quiet:
Dropping from the Head to the Heart
(Recorded March 19, 26, April 2, 9)
Once we shift from trying to figure God out with our minds to focusing on feeling God in our hearts, a spaciousness opens inside us and we enter a place of sweet stillness. This stage represents the balance point of the spiritual journey. We have three stations behind us, in which we attain spiritual development largely through our own efforts, and three stations lie ahead, in which grace takes over.
In this module, you will:
Practice heart-centered meditation techniques to help you more fully experience the expansion of the Beloved in your heart, not your mind.
Learn about the active and passive stages of the spiritual journey, and how you can determine which stage you may be experiencing.
Explore St. Teresa of Avila’s “3 waters” teaching and how it applies in your life.
Taste the freedom that comes when we drop our need to fix ourselves and allow ourselves to abide in a sacred field.
Featured Practice: Guided Metta Meditation.
Station 5 – Prayer of Union:
Annihilation and Transformation
(Recorded April 16, 23, 30, May 7)
This is the phase in which the silkworm of the soul spins itself a cocoon and climbs inside to dissolve. It is only when the old self is annihilated that the true self can emerge. In her suspended state, the soul rests in the Divine, and the Divine rests in her. The soul experiences this dying as a great joy.
In this module, you will:
Study the inter-spiritual teachings of self-annihilation and how they might apply to you personally.
Identify aspects of your false self that need to be released in order for your metamorphosis to transpire.
Explore St. Teresa of Avila’s “butterfly” metaphor and how it is reflected in your life.
See your personal relationships as a reflection of your growing intimacy with the Beloved.
Featured Practice: Create a work of butterfly art – a drawing, painting, poem, play, dance, song, video, sculpture, or any other creative project that reflects the transformational power of the butterfly.
Station 6 – This Beautiful Wound:
Longing for the Beloved
(Recorded May 14, 21, 28, June 18)
In this phase, the lover (soul) experiences longing for union with the Beloved (God) as a searing pain. Often the person who has navigated the spiritual path deep into the landscape of Mystery begins to suffer from various outer afflictions that correspond to the inner fire. People at this stage may grapple with numerous illnesses and multiple losses, all of which intensify their sense of alienation from this world. And yet “an ineffable sweetness” lies just below the surface of the turmoil, and the soul knows she is growing closer to the Holy One.
In this module, you will:
Explore the connection between personal loss and spiritual longing.
Understand spiritual longing and the connection between personal loss and the longing for God/union with the Divine.
Learn to approach suffering as alchemical transfiguration.
Use your sense of separation as a portal to access union.
Receive a more spiritual and practical understanding of how to deal with grief and loss, using them as a catalyst for your spiritual opening.
Featured Practice: Gather poems of loss and transformation and create a collection that you can add to on an ongoing basis.
Station 7 – The Innermost Chamber:
Self-Realization and Service
(Recorded June 25, July 2, 9, 16)
When at last lover (soul) merges with Beloved, only love remains. The challenge of the spiritual journey is to get out of our own way and allow the Holy One to love through us. As distinctions between self and God begin to dissolve, we experience our essential interconnectedness with all that is. Once we have experienced this melding, our only remaining desire is to help alleviate suffering in the world. Raptures, visions and other altered states of consciousness fall away, and we find ourselves squarely in the center of the human condition, ready to step up and be useful.
In this module, you will:
Explore inter-spiritual perspectives on compassionate action, the Bodhisattva Vow and the connection between contemplative practice and service.
Expand your conception of what it means to be of service.
Discern between charity dispensed to those we perceive as having (or being) less, and compassion based on the realization of our essential unity with those who suffer.
Find a healthy balance between personal spiritual practice and loving service.
Featured Practice: Through guided meditation, develop a plan of action to engage in service Be creative. It can be a local effort or a global one. It may not look like your preconceived notion of social or environmental activism. Find your authentic prophetic response.
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