Monthly Archives: June 2009

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: 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.

Grandmother Snag

It’s Memorial Day, and instead of visiting the graves of my human ancestors, I’m sitting in the Oregon old growth forest at my favorite altar in the world, above a noisily  burbling stream.  From this spot, if I peek through the hemlocks and cedars just in front of me, there’s a snag, the part of the tree left over after the rest of it has broken off and thundered to the ground.  This particular snag, about fifty feet tall at a third its original height,  was created about twenty years ago, from the falling of a two-hundred year old giant.  They say that when it split in two, an eighty-year old woman in the cabin crushed by the fall was saved because she was looking into her refrigerator, which held up the roof above. This image has given me such peace when I stand mutely gazing at my own leftover larder, but this is only a teeny little part of the inspiration of this stately scene.

The truth is, I’ve passed hundreds of snags while hiking without being transported to this deep peace I feel today.  It always takes a while for my mind and my eyes to relax enough to truly let in the subtle majesty of such an old, broken relic.  After about a day here in the forest, my vision shifts. I’m reminded of my personal relationship with each tree here at the cabin.  I begin to call them my friends.  It’s then that I truly see her,  the old Grandmother of the hillside, the sacred snag. Read More>>