I recently received my first mehndi. Mehndi is the name for the special kind of body art that is done using henna, a medium derived from the leaves of the henna plant.
Initially, my intention was to show my appreciation for a woman in my local community. I felt called to do so through supporting her business, so I hired her to stain my hand with a beautiful design.
As I sat down to receive the mehndi, I admitted to the artist that I knew little about this tradition and practice. She explained to me that mehndi were traditionally created for rites of passage and celebrations. I wanted this artwork to be about more than having a pretty design on my skin. I felt a deeper call, asking me to tap into the sacredness of this process; this gift.
I received the mehndi at a drum festival. Drumming in co-creation around a sacred fire is, indeed, one of my favorite ways to pray. It is a gathering of people coming together in community; dancing, making music and sharing love. I felt good about receiving the mehndi to honor such a celebration.
As I shifted my focus to each line as it was drawn, I was met with an acute awareness; this was much more than receiving artwork on my skin. I was in receipt of an act of love. There was so much thoughtful concentration on the face of this artist, and she emanated a felt sense of gentleness and caring intention, from start to finish.
The gift of this amazing woman’s artwork kept on giving. In the days following, I noticed how struck I was by how the mehndi seemed to influence my energy. At first, I caught merely a whisper of beauty. I could easily have brushed it off, and felt the inclination to do so. There was a faint, inner voice that said, “the festival is over, no one’s here to appreciate the mehndi, no need to focus attention here.”
There was, however, a slightly louder voice which said, “please notice the shift in your energy as you do the dishes, play your drum and write on paper. Witness how you feel as you take in the beauty of this celebratory design.”
I gave myself permission to continue enjoying the beauty of my hand. This permission seeped into the enjoyment of the otherwise “mundane” tasks I’d normally rush through each day. This newfound presence sparked in me the following inquiries:
When I play my drum, can I simultaneously appreciate the sight of my hand as it strikes out a rhythm?
When I wash dishes, can I simultaneously appreciate the sensation of water flowing over my skin?
When I jot down a note, can I simultaneously write in a way that looks pleasing to my eye?
When I go from task to task, in my day-to-day life, can I simultaneously note the beauty of each moment?
Receiving this mehndi proved to be a portal to a dimension of deeper presence. Whether tuning into the gratitude of receiving an act of love, or remembering the sacredness and beauty of each moment, the design on my hand has initiated an amplification of appreciation.
This beautiful creation will fade with time. My hand, once again, will be free from these lines and dots. I’d like to think a permanent mark, however, has been left upon my ability to deeply receive the inherent gifts which lie within each life experience.
-Artwork by Astarte Tzighan of World Fusion Classroom Sacred Dance – World Fusion Classroom