Posts Tagged: Meditation

Still. Here. Now.

It’s been a wild ride the last six months. By that I mean that it’s one I don’t want to repeat. Lots of unexpected challenges coming from the outside world that I didn’t choose. Things like being hit head-on at a high speed, followed by my daughter being hit by a drunk driver two months later. At the same time my mother was suffering and requiring surgery across the country. Those kinds of challenges. Read More>>

Tolerating Peace

I’m learning to tolerate peace. I’m shocked as I see myself writing that, which takes me right out of peace. You see, my identity is so wrapped up in being a Peacemaker that it’s a Giant Step to admit that peace very often in my inner life has often been missing.

I’ve been a Peacenik my entire adult life. My credentials are impeccable. I became an anti-war activist when I discovered the realities of the Vietnam war. I organized an anti-nuke installation using little tree-farming cones to demonstrate insane levels of nuclear warheads in the early 80’s.

Peace Beyond Belief

I’m about to head off for a 5-day retreat at my favorite hot springs. (Here in Oregon at this time of year, hot springs are perfect because we’re still in our long spring season). I’m preparing the materials, going to the Farmer’s Market for local flowers, flowing from here in the valley to there in the mountains.
Peaceful. As long as I remember to notice when beliefs would pull me out of the flow.

Thought Yoga

I’ve practiced yoga for about twenty years, and I’ve taken one class or another about twice a week during this time. That’s a lot of hours. You’d think there would be nothing much new happening. That’s what mind would say. But (as I keep learning) mind is often wrong. My body loves it when I ask it to repeat movements it understands internally. Then body (and mind) settle into a peaceful and deep connection. Yoga has taught me that. Yesterday, as my body found its way from a Child Resting to Warriors One through Three to Triangle to Dogs and Dolphins and Pigeons, there was a felt sense of familiarity mixed with curiosity about what I would discover. Yoga has given me this.

Anchoring

On my bedside table there’s a brass anchor and a candle.  It serves as a reminder of my need for stabilizing as I question and learn and grow.  A reminder of those things that hold me to the earth and bring me back to myself and the present moment when my mind begins to wander, as it has a habit of doing.  Here’s a quick list:  my dog, a warm shower and clean clothes, sitting quietly in the morning, deep and sustaining breaths, holding hands with my husband, and a dear friend’s face.  The more I look for examples, the more I find.  And it begins to look a whole lot like a list of gratitude.

What’s on your list?  What brings your mind back to what’s important?  Find out. And let the list grow.

Reminders to Self While Viewing Pearls

I love the time after any trip, when I return home to (borrowing from TS Eliot) “see the world with new eyes.”  Now that I’m out of the forest and into the routines I call my life, I see my loved ones, my garden, my friends with such gratitude.  I love savoring this time, slowing mind down, checking it out to see what’s different.  I have a habit of making notes and lists in my journal, a kind of trail marker the next time I get a little lost (or my eyes get “ old” again).

Here’s what I notice after this trip. Even though the stress of some of those around me has escalated, my mind has remained calmer. Last week a participant at the retreat referred to Deep Soul Diving..  So this time my list looks like a string of pearls, distilled loveliness  that serve as a reminder to myself about my latest the journey into my  inner world.

Slowing down the mind allows it to open, revealing its treasures. When mind gets questioned and  is allowed the time to answer, this closed oyster opens enough for the pearls to be seen. Now that I’m home, when I remember to go slow the hummingbird, the summer breeze, the spider in the corner , take me directly to my heart.  I can return to a sense of spaciousness any time I notice, and when my mind is too cloudy to see how, I can ask some questions and wait to be surprised.

No new thoughts. As they say in Bali, “same, same.” Every time I work with someone inquiring into their thoughts, I discover my own. So the one in front of me gives me what I need to find myself.  We seem to be recycling the same thoughts:  my body isn’t right, my kids would save themselves grief if they’d listen to me, talk show radio hosts are Satan in drag.  It’s all in me too. Same, same.

Time Can Expand. Riddle: When is two and a half days not two and a half days?  When I slow down to go fast! I notice a spaciousness to time even now that I’m home from the dive.  Note to self:  now is a good time to stare at the ocean, sit with the dog, slow time down.  Even for a few minutes.  Now.

Gratefulness for the miracle of the human heart opening. When I get real with myself and the folks around me, the world changes.  I develop a deep appreciation for sound of the heart opening.  Each time I experience this within myself or with another, I am blessed.

This summer, give yourself a little time after a vacation or trip to see your life anew. Bring out your souvenirs. Make some lists.

How is your world different, even a little, than it was before?

• What moments would you like to keep in your memory?  The toddler with ice cream on his face?  The kindness of a stranger in the airport?

• As you look back at your experience, what would you change?  This is a good place to star to questioning  the mind.  I shouldn’t have eaten so much potato salad. Is that true?  Find out.  Question the thought that  whatever happened wasn’t for your learning.

•What pearls of wisdom do you bring back? What did you learn about yourself?  Others?

• What advice do you have for yourself about future trips?  I find this a great way to remember what ways I was kind and unkind to myself so that I can plan future trips with more kindness.

• I love putting a physical thing I bring back or that reminds me of my experience on an altar or someplace that I’ll see it when I wake up in the morning.  Each time I see it, I’m reminded of the new pearl on my strand.

Enjoy your pearls with new eyes.  Summer is young.

Little Questions, Big Trees, and Me

I just returned from a three day event at Breitenbush Retreat Center in the old growth forest of the Oregon Cascade mountains. There we all were, almost thirty of us,  with some big questions, some big trees, and ourselves. Because we weren’t able to access our cell phones, Internet, or ordinary life stories, there was a sense of adventuring together as we asked the Four Questions and Turn-Arounds of Byron Katie. We adopted the name Deep Divers, which described perfectly the experience of going again and again into the depths of our own minds. Once we began to answer the questions, we each emerged with our own pearls: the truer and kinder answers that brought each of us a sense of peace in our own lives . Maggie Carter, long-time practitioner and facilitator of The Work, reminded us that there’s nothing magical about the 4 Questions. (If you’d like more explanation, go to Katie’s website: http://www.thework.com/thework.asp) And yet there was little doubt for any of us that the process itself was magical.

I notice as I return that a renewed clarity and a peace of mind is possible when I’m not in the thrall of my beliefs. I notice I have a choice in whether I want to live from the old, archaic beliefs that have caused me stress or to challenge myself to find a kinder way. When I believe that I’m in charge of everything, I suffer stress. I fatigue myself.

When I notice all the ways I’m not in charge, I feel free. When I believe that other people won’t accept me when I operate from my own sense of authenticity, I shrink back and don’t offer my gifts to the world. When I don’t believe it, I’m free to honor my own knowing and act with integrity.

Again and again I’m noticing a Beginner’s Mind that allows me to see where I have a choice and where I live out of an unexamined belief. This is the true power of inquiry for me, the experience and the scent of freedom. This is kindness. This is the pearl that I bring back to examine again and again in the light of reality. This is magic.

Aha! Moments and Epiphany

From the first day of the holiday season, even as I’m savoring the feasting, singing and celebratory chaos, my favorite holiday moment beckons.  I’m not of the religious persuasion that celebrates Epiphany at the end of the Advent season, so I stumbled on it by chance.  For a number of years I noticed that the season wasn’t really over for me until a few days after New Year’s Day.  Once tree was down, the last stale cookies were eaten, the kids were back at school, I dropped back into my own life with a sigh of relief.

This was the time to recap the holidays and decide what might work better in the future.  This was the time to imagine possibilities for next year. I began to notice how many insights would come as I sat with my journal and tea, waiting for resolutions to emerge from detritus of Christmas past.  As it turns out, year after year this magical day was nearly always about Jan. 5th or 6th.  Curious, I looked up the date on a liturgical calendar and discovered that it’s a celebration of the Three Wise Men, the Persian travelers who showed up to acknowledge the divinity of the Christ child in human form.

Following from that origin, the word Epiphany is about an Aha! on any level, a sudden realization or comprehension of the essence of something.  Aha! I thought.  No wonder I had discovered clarity over the years, had recognized my own essential direction every year about this time.  It was a time honored tradition! So for the last ten years I’ve entered the Epiphany date in my calendar along with some extra private time for contemplation. I invite all my friends and clients to do the same.  Sit. Be still. And listen for direction. My wish for you on this, my favorite holiday.

2015 Visualization

Ever since Election Day, I’ve noticed my mind’s been a carnival or an amusement park. There’s the roller coaster, with emotional highs (mostly) and lows (some), based on my beliefs about whether the best candidate won or whether the ballot measure is just. Then there’s the spinner,  which mixes the news up with my opinions about it, twirls it around and around until my brain is dizzy. And then there’s the House of Fear, which replays scenes from past elections and leaders, re-playing all the scariest images of political assassinations from my youth.

Yesterday a friend forwarded me a soothing email suggestion. It puts my mind at ease and helps me find a seat on the bench, watching all the amusements from a peaceful distance.  I have no idea who the author is, but I’m grateful, and it’s simply too good not to share with you.

The year is 2015.  You glance at the television one morning and see Obama having another of his many press conferences.  He has now been in office for almost 8 years. Read More>>