The Modern Spiritual Woman
BY OLIVIA CLEMENTINE KIRBY
I have dueling desires: to be a monk in a cave and to be a visionary, connected and in service of our modern world.
My mystic soul desires to solely practice meditation for hours on end and study texts on liberation and the nature of mind and heart. I want to climb into the mountains and settle into a retreat cabin. Retreat for extended periods of time where I am in nature, with complete focus on the dharma. That is all. Practicing. Walking. Stretching. Practicing. Being nourished by earth’s bounty. Here, I want to give everything away. I want to love all people, and let go of identity. Everything I accumulate, successes and failures, to give them away as an offering to the liberation of all beings.
And then there is this other side of me that wants to create and adorn my life in the beauty of this world. I want to create a beautiful business that is in service for something greater. Since I was young I had an entrepreneurial spirit. Everything I set my vision on seemed possible. And as my mother recounts, it was intense (and wonderful) to have a child with this type of determination. When I am with anyone, I see their possibility and all I want for them is to live in their desired life. A life that springs from that deeper place where desires are also good for our world. I want to make a living so I can give well, but also because I do like the beauty and design we tangibly create.
So, I am constantly straddling these worlds, moving between wanting to create and wanting to be. Not wanting to allow these loves to become a manifestation of spiritual materialism, but a celebration of beauty, of connection, of spirit, of manifestation, of life.
Until recently I did not know the path to find a sense of peace in these two seemingly distinct visions.
And then I realized:
The beauty of being a woman is that we have the capacity to have our hands in many pots. We are made to carry a baby, while making dinner, holding a conversation, responding to work calls, while finishing up a myriad of projects. This is our skill.
The art of being a woman is to understand oneself through the continual unfolding through one day, one month and our lifetime. Our whole life is based on moving with this ever-changing nature.
Being driven and focused on creation, such as family or business, connects us to the relative world. And being devoted to the path of awakenment, to truth, to dharma, keeps us connected to the absolute world. By holding room for both we may feed each, lovingly and fully.
What came with this realization is that I could flow between my desire to root in completely to my spiritual path and my desire to serve outwardly in our modern world. This capacity is an innate possibility.
And once I relaxed into this I no longer had a choice. I had been filling my vessel for so many years I was now overflowing and needed some place to put this bounty. And instead of waiting to move into a monastery (which I knew would probably not happen) I needed to offer myself outwardly to the world.
Here we are today. I am resting in the gift that being in the world brings. Here, I am interacting with a range of experiences, putting my intentions to the test. Seeing where I have evolved and where I have much work to do. And putting intention to become one with life, so even my notion of having dualistic desires falls away so I can rest in being in truth, in oneness. This is the path of healing, of creation and of spirituality.
What a gift it is to be a human. We have the possibility of living a deeply committed spiritual path while being visionaries, creators of living beings, beholders of every day magic.
I look forward to holding space for modern yoginis. We are in an exciting time. We are fortunate— so fortunate.
Blessings on your brilliant path.
Olivia is a healer, farmer, herbalist, and self-transformation teacher. She offers tea ceremony, retreat and private consultations. She lives and works on a farm along the Hudson River in Staatsburg, New York.