Moving On

It has been a while since I’ve posted here.  Every so often I think of coming ’round to add a new post, but I never seem to get it done.  I think it is time to archive this particular blog.  South of Sabai has gone south, and I am moving in another direction.  Life has changed form, shifted shapes,  scattered new seeds of awakening, awareness, awfulness.

Awful, as in awe-full, as in “to inspire reverence” – the real meaning of the word before it came to mean something terrible.  Well, and for that matter, the word terrible once upon a time not only meant something to be feared, but also to be revered.

Odd, isn’t it, that fear and reverence were so closely intertwined?  But that’s the way with life, I think.  Pain and beauty, life and death – the pairs feed each other, need each other.  We never really grow and expand, or even become fully human until we’ve gone into the depths of awfulness. Pain and ugliness awaken beauty and compassion.  Isn’t it always the most intense experiences that cause us to say…. “I have changed” and give us a deeper understanding of who we are?

I have learned this: Life is sacred, holy, and beautiful in all of its forms.  Even in death.  Maybe especially in death.  When we acknowledge death we can really learn to live.

Hey you, yes you.  You reading this blog post…. do you know that you will die? No, I mean really, do you KNOW it?  It’s a hard thing for us humans to grasp.  And mostly, we don’t grasp it.  Even when it happens to those closest to us we have a hard time believing that this ego called me will ever end.

Partly, I think that’s because on some level we don’t really die.  What I mean is: the part of us that exists beneath our identity, that bit of energy that animates us, that bit we can’t quite define… that part lives on.  We know this at an intuitive level, even if we can’t quite say so.  Energy simply changes form.  But this ego, this identity called Amy, this body that claims to be Amy…. all the bits and pieces that make up the story of Amy…  this will die.

Here’s what I need to do before I die:   Live.  Yep, that simple.  I’m not talking about the kind of life that is a living death.  I am talking about awakening to the beauty that is all around.  I’m talking about following my passions and trusting that the unfolding paths will take me exactly where I need to be.

So.  I am archiving this blog and moving on. There will be no more posts here.  Not to worry, however, if you are so inclined to follow me around the web I do have a couple of new projects starting.  Because I am a blog addict 😉  I am starting up a new personal blog –  you are welcome to follow me there. I will continue to post on A Yoga Year (yes I know, I am way behind on my posts there too, but I will come back to it!)  I am also in the process of setting up my business web pages, and who knows what else will show up for me to work on.  So I will be around ~ in and out of cyberspace.  Feel free to continue to connect – I do love hearing from you.

Meanwhile, I leave this particular blog with a challenge (or is it an invitation?) issued to you as well as to me:  Let yourself know that your body will die.  Live with that knowing, and see if you can live with it joyfully.  Because I think (and I could be wrong) that if you live with it, and come to really know that your identity will die,  you might just discover that you have a deep gratitude for your life.

Gratitude is a huge gift.

Maybe you will also come to know that you actually love the life you live.  Now, there’s a gift!  And if you don’t love it, you will know that you can change it, and change it again and again and again until you find your passion, until you really fall in love with your life.

It’s a simple thing.  Remember what lights your fire and do that, be that.  If complaining that you will never do what you want to do is the thing that you love best… well then keep on complaining.  That’s ok too.  But if you want more, go for it. Is there something that calls you and you don’t heed that call because there are other things you “should” do….?

Here’s a suggestion: let go of the “should” and follow your muse.  Get wild, live outside the box.  Appreciate who you are, be grateful for what you have, and go on… be uniquely You.

Really, what else can we do?

 

“Go… be the flower, be the star…. go, and be the love you are… ”   (lyrics by Spring from Be the Light)

~ Many Blessings ~

be glad

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Published in: on October 1, 2011 at 14:29  Comments (4)  
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In Memory of Tanza, Dance!

The morning is cold, windy, gray.  It is June, and I still wait for summer to arrive here.  Not that there hasn’t been sun – there have been some incredibly beautiful (albeit cold) days.  Just this past Saturday, however the day was warm AND sunny. What a gift! A proper send off, I think, for my sister Tanza.   She and I share the love of warm and sun, and often we laughingly wondered what the heck we were doing here in gray, rainy Washington.purple wildflower

Even with all the rain, we did enjoy the spring here.  Tanza delighted in seeing different flowers and birds than what she’d known in Florida, and for me – well, I’ve lived in the desert so long I’d forgotten how many colors of flowers there can be.  I am continually astonished at the beauty around me – flowering trees and tulips and rhododendrons and bleeding hearts and lilacs and flowers I have no names for – an abundance of color and fragrance!

flyingTanza left here on Thursday.  I wish she could have stayed to feel the warmth of the sun on Saturday, but it was not to be. Instead, she flew free, dancing I believe with the lightness that can only come from leaving your body behind.  She once told me that the thing she loved most about dancing (her training was in classical ballet) were the high leaps. The sense of flying, stretching out her arms to the sky, leaving the ground, being free.  Living Large.

For all of her love of flying, she also loved the earth.  She helped our niece design her garden, and taught her how to plant so as to attract birds and butterflies.  She loved the trees, guardians of the land, and knew the devas that inhabit the growing things.  From ocean to ocean, she loved the water.   Atlantic ocean,  Pacific ocean, the Baltic Sea and more – in all her travels she found the water to be her home, and it fed her spirit.

I can’t imagine anyone living with more grace and beauty and love than my sister Tanza.  She was a dancer, an artist, always willing to step out on a new adventure, someone who cared deeply.  Even in her pain, she saw beauty, thought of others, cared for life.   She understood more than many that life is sacred, that life is love, that life should be lived, fully.  She lived her life in such a way that all who came in contact with her felt something special, and she leaves behind a legacy of love among many, many people.

DanceThese are her words:  “We are creative beings, so in memory of me… do not send flowers, but contribute to your favorite charity, or call your mom, or plant a garden.  In memory of me, I request that you light a candle to the angels, dance to your favorite song, write a poem, in short, be creative!  Plant a garden,  turn a pot,  do something you’ve always wanted to do.”

Today, in memory of Tanza, in memory of all those who have gone before us, in honor of all those you love, in honor of your life – Dance.  Do something you have always wanted to do.  Don’t put it off.  Live your life with full attention.  Love the sacredness in this life!  It is a gift to be here – honor that, and celebrate your very molecular existence.  We are, each of us, a miracle of Love.

~om shanti~

Lori Ruth Smith

Tanza Lorraine, aka Lori Ruth Smith
October 18, 1955 – June 2, 2011

Waterlogged in Washington

path through the wetlandsI’m soaked. The dog is soaked. The cat goes out for a moment, and comes in soaked, and with an indignant meow, he looks at me accusingly as if to say…. what’s with that door?  Where’s the dry land?

This is Washington State, where (I am told) it rarely rains. Really.  It does not rain.  It pours, it showers, it drizzles, it mists….. but rarely does it rain.  Which begs the question… what exactly is rain?  To that, I have no answer.  All I know is that its wet.  Soggy.  Dreary and damp.

My hands are chronically cold.  They might be permanently numb if it weren’t for those microwavable heat packs that I can wrap around them once in a while.  And it’s not that the temperatures are all that low… it’s just that this constant damp is so bone chilling deep.  I’ve been warmer in single digit temperatures, with snow on the ground.

The other thing about a gray climate: I am never quite sure when morning arrives.  Shouldn’t the  morning sun be a cue to get dressed and begin the day? But here, there is not a clear sunrise. Instead, the sky shifts gradually from pre-dawn rainy black to subtly lighter shades of gray.  Suddenly, you look at the clock and realize its noon, and you haven’t had your morning shower and breakfast because you are still waiting for the sun to come up.

Alright, so maybe I exaggerate a little, but really, this constant rainy gray is tough to get used to.  We are doing what we can to invite the sun –  We placed hanging crystals in all the windows to add a bit of color, and bunches of daffodil buds placed inside the house are opening to a brilliant yellow.   I find myself wanting to wear bright colors, and to throw bright-colored blankets over anything gray or brown. 

It’s not all drab and dreary, however.  Nearby is the watershed area, and mossy treethere are beautiful trails that dip down into the earth and wander through fluorescent green moss and ferns. The trees embrace the wet moss and reach high up into the sky, and  the birds are abundant here. At night:  a beautiful chorus of frogs and crickets.  Yesterday, while out walking, I heard the sweet sound of red-winged blackbirds, and my spirit soared with their song.

An encounter on the rainy trail this morning:  An old man in a red plaid shirt, blue jeans, and brown muddy rain boots, carrying an old ragged umbrella greeted me with a bright good morning.  “I’m wondering when the rain might stop!” he said cheerfully.  “But then, when you’ve lived here as long as I have, you never mind it and you just live your life anyway!”

That seems like sage advice.  To just be in the moment, to appreciate what is, to live my life anyway – this is wisdom.  Regardless of what is happening on the outside, this moment IS my life.   Whining is useless.  It is much more practical, not to mention pleasant to seek the beauty, to live the love, to be with what is.  When I notice that the rain brings amazing gifts I am thankful,  and the doldrums fall away pretty quickly.

And in all fairness, there have been a few sun breaks in the past week or so (my sister tells me that this is the only area where tholympics from capital baye weather casters actually use ‘sun breaks’ as a technical term). When the sky is blue and the air clear, we can see across the bay to the Olympic Mountain ranges.  Really, the area is so incredibly beautiful.

My father, who lived here most of his life, always said that there is no place more beautiful than Washington State.  After long trips, he relished being home where the land is green and fertile, and the salty smell of the Pacific Ocean drifts through open windows and nestles around damp corners.  I think of him often here: I feel his spirit, and invoke his love of the area to keep me sane in all of this gray.

I do know that spring will arrive here eventually (it is only March, after all) and that one day soon the rain will stop, the sun will shine, and there will be the great outdoors of the Pacific Northwest to appreciate.

For now, we take it all day-to-day:  living, loving, laughing where we can.

Life Simply Is.
May you appreciate your moments in all that you do.
~Namaste~
roots

Rain in Summer – A Poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

How beautiful is the rain!
After the dust and heat,
In the broad and fiery street,
In the narrow lane,
How beautiful is the rain! 

How it clatters along the roofs,
Like the tramp of hoofs
How it gushes and struggles out
From the throat of the overflowing spout!

Across the window-pane
It pours and pours;
And swift and wide,
With a muddy tide,
Like a river down the gutter roars
The rain, the welcome rain!

The sick man from his chamber looks
At the twisted brooks;
He can feel the cool
Breath of each little pool;
His fevered brain
Grows calm again,
And he breathes a blessing on the rain.

From the neighboring school
Come the boys,
With more than their wonted noise
And commotion;
And down the wet streets
Sail their mimic fleets,
Till the treacherous pool
Ingulfs them in its whirling
And turbulent ocean.

In the country, on every side,
Where far and wide,
Like a leopard’s tawny and spotted hide,
Stretches the plain,
To the dry grass and the drier grain
How welcome is the rain!

In the furrowed land
The toilsome and patient oxen stand;
Lifting the yoke encumbered head,
With their dilated nostrils spread,
They silently inhale
The clover-scented gale,
And the vapors that arise
From the well-watered and smoking soil.
For this rest in the furrow after toil
Their large and lustrous eyes
Seem to thank the Lord,
More than man’s spoken word.

Near at hand,
From under the sheltering trees,
The farmer sees
His pastures, and his fields of grain,
As they bend their tops
To the numberless beating drops
Of the incessant rain.
He counts it as no sin
That he sees therein
Only his own thrift and gain.

These, and far more than these,
The Poet sees!
He can behold
Aquarius old
Walking the fenceless fields of air;
And from each ample fold
Of the clouds about him rolled
Scattering everywhere
The showery rain,
As the farmer scatters his grain.

He can behold
Things manifold
That have not yet been wholly told,–
Have not been wholly sung nor said.
For his thought, that never stops,
Follows the water-drops
Down to the graves of the dead,
Down through chasms and gulfs profound,
To the dreary fountain-head
Of lakes and rivers under ground;
And sees them, when the rain is done,
On the bridge of colors seven
Climbing up once more to heaven,
Opposite the setting sun.

Thus the Seer,
With vision clear,
Sees forms appear and disappear,
In the perpetual round of strange,
Mysterious change
From birth to death, from death to birth,
From earth to heaven, from heaven to earth;
Till glimpses more sublime
Of things, unseen before,
Unto his wondering eyes reveal
The Universe, as an immeasurable wheel
Turning forevermore
In the rapid and rushing river of Time.

Travelogue in Brief

11 Days, 7 hours, a handful of minutes
4,114 miles (6620.841 km)   –  give or take a side trip or two
Mostly southern route from coast to coast, corner to corner – see map

It took a day to get through Florida  (very long state) – then on through Alabama (best rest stops) – Louisiana (detour through New Orléans: big city, lots of traffic) – Texas (choose your speed) – Oklahoma (was there something significant here?) – Texas (again!) – New Mexico (oh, the sky!) – Arizona (vast and open, painted desert, whoops…. snow!) – California (Mohave Desert – too vast to photograph) – California (Barstow to Lodi: ugh, yuck, and worst restrooms ever) – California (wine country, much better vibes, Sonoma gave us the Best Breakfast of the trip) – California Coast (Pacific Ocean, beach front motel) – Oregon Coast (beautiful, rugged, nothing like it) – then inland over to the Oregon I5 corridor to (finally) Washington State where it snowed ONLY in Olympia, our destination.

You can see a few photos from the trip here.  If you have never driven across our beautiful country, do it.  Everyone needs to take the drive at least once,  and several times if you want to do the southern, middle, and northern routes.  What a beautiful country we live in! It is good to escape the cities and see the vastness of natural beauty:  deserts and rain forests, snowstorms and white sandy beaches,  mountains and valleys,  rain and dry, cracked old mudflats….  how can you not be amazed at the beauty in this world?!  People from all walks of life ~ all connected in this country, by this earth.  Diverse and immense, this is our land.

I wonder: If more people took the time to step out of daily dramas and explored this land, would we learn to honor and take better care of our earth?

Published in: on March 5, 2011 at 12:40  Comments (6)  
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On the Road Again

Snapshots of a winter in South Florida:

pink hibiscus blossomGreen, lush growth.  Sun.  Neem trees.  Waving palm trees. Flowering Cacti!!  Pink hibiscus and red wild roses. White lilies, and night-blooming jasmine.  Cold, gray days.

Mr BluejayMr. Bluejay claims ownership of the yard. Blackbirds sing to the sun.  Incessantly cooing turtle doves do the love dance. Little green finches splash in the bird bath.  Lizards race across the ground. Black Skimmer in a flock of gulls

Beach, sand, and ocean juxtapose with a tourist strip of boardwalk and bikes, restaurants and runners.  International voices.  Green market on the beach: organic produce.  Seagulls and a lone Black Skimmer.  Flocks of parrots.

Noise. Traffic.  Horns. Persistent city-ness.  Mindfulness.

Daily Yoga.

Sun Salutations
I have been here for most of the winter, helping to care for my sister.  There has been much to be grateful for here – friends and food, sun and garden, sharing and caring.  I found a wonderful Iyengar yoga studio – if ever you are near Hallandale in South Florida, I highly recommend the teachers at Yogarosa.  I took classes with Rosa and Marilyn: both excellent with a deep yoga understanding and, just as important, the ability to share it.  I learned much, come away changed, and am very grateful for the opportunity to have practiced with them.

Soon, Tanza and I will be driving across the country – corner to corner.  With a loaded Volvo and a spirit of adventure, we are planning to head out early Monday morning – Valentine’s Day.

Destination:  Olympia, Washington with a short stop-over in Carson City, Nevada.   Are we crazy?  Maybe.  The trip is likely to be challenging.  We will travel early in the day, stop mid-afternoons, and take plenty of breaks along the way. The southern route, I am told, is experiencing a warming trend.  This is good.  We will take with us plenty of food, music, smiles and (hopefully!) a sense of fun.  We travel on faith, love, and attitude ~ your thoughts and prayers for a gentle journey are most welcome!

Attitude

Published in: on February 12, 2011 at 22:40  Comments (8)  
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Back at it…

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here.  Yikes, I just checked, and I haven’t made a proper post since New Year’s Day!   I haven’t completely disappeared – I’ve been busy over at A Yoga Year, trying to meet my post-a-day quota there.

Several times, I’ve had something in mind pushing at me, wanting to be written and posted over here on my personal blog, but I don’t know, I just let it go.  Somehow, the time gets away and I find myself with only a very limited time to sit down, be, and write what comes.

That’s life though.  There will always be something calling, distracting, needing immediate attention.  Which, really, is all the more reason to create time.  If we learn to create the time for what we need, then there will never be not enough, right?  (how’s that for a double negative?)  It’s really just about priorities, and focus.   If you want to do something, you just do it.  Time, like money, works itself out one way or another.

I know this: when times are tough, and life is too busy or too overwhelming, and it feels as if there is no time for ourselves – that’s when we need most to take the time, make the time, for the things that feed our spirit.  For me, there are 3 things that help keep me grounded and centered, no matter what is going on in my life:  Yoga, Meditation, and Writing.

So in the spirit of  “do-it-anyway” I am back.  I have decided to make more time for my personal blog.  To help me do that, I decided to add this blog to the WordPress post-a-week challenge.  If all goes well, and maybe even if it doesn’t, you can expect to see a weekly post here.

Consider yourself fairly warned.   😉

Published in: on February 11, 2011 at 15:19  Leave a Comment  
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A Daily Challenge

A short post today, to direct you to another post on another blog…. (if you are interested)

I’ve been thinking about what happens when we make a commitment to something, anything.  In my New Year’s post, I said that it is never too late to begin something new, but the flip side of that is that it is never too soon.  We can begin any time, any day.  We don’t need to wait for New Year’s, or a birthday, or until our body feels better; until we have the perfect tool, the perfect place, or until the stars are lined up correctly and the situation is perfect.  We simply begin, now, whatever the circumstances.

So I am taking my own advice.  I have been wanting to deepen my yoga practice, to make it an integral part of my life.  Over the past few months, I’ve let my personal practice go, relying on the occasional class to keep me yoga-fied.  It’s not enough for me.  I crave a deeper relationship through yoga, and so I am re-committing myself to my practice.  I’ve decided to take this commitment public, and begin a blog specific to that journey.

You can read the introductory post in that blog here. I also invite you to join me…. if there is something you would like to step out and do, do it, and share your experience.  A journey traveled with friends is a journey well shared, and one to be treasured.

xmas_sunrise

Thanks for hanging out here with me.  Namaste.

Published in: on January 6, 2011 at 09:42  Leave a Comment  
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1/1/11 ~ New Year’s Day 2011

kona looking down from Kona's ButteWhen I wake, the world here is white.  Snow throws itself down toward the earth, piling up across the landscape, turning even the air, and the space between things white. This is not the slow, meandering snow that comes with big soft flakes. Not today, not this first day of a new year.  No, this is fast and furious, sharp at times, like a pointed white rain.  The new morning of a new day in this new year comes with its own intent, its own resolution.  Kona and I head out for a walk, letting the wet sharp cold exhilarate our moods.
little boxes
The early morning is quiet, few people stirring, the roads thick with tire pressed snow, the sky indistinguishable from the distant view. White, white, white.  Up on a hill we call Kona’s Butte, we look down over snow covered roofs on identical houses that stretch out deep into the whiteness, disappearing into forever. We climb higher up the hill, above the town, above the cookie-cutter houses to the east  (“little boxes… on the hillside… little boxes made of ticky-tacky…” )  and the manufactured and older homes to the west.  Up here – no houses – just sagebrush, rocks, a quiet meditation in the meeting of earth and sky.

Sometimes, to climb above a city is to climb in to a new awareness, a place of stillness above the metaphorical and literal noise, a place where the brain can momentarily cleanse itself from its ordinary busy-ness.  In today’s early morning, the town below is as quiet and still as the hill, and I walk and watch as  slowly there are signs of waking: trucks with snow plows begin to move over the roads, increasing numbers of cars traveling to and fro, people up and about… the new day begins.

I could be writing here about New Year’s Resolutions, and looking back at what was, making plans as to what will be.  There are plenty of posts to that effect (here is a good one from Tiny Buddha, if you want to read a different perspective on making and keeping resolutions).  It is a good time to take stock, to recognize who we are, where we are going, make adjustments based on future plans.  But then, so is every day.  That’s the thing to remember.  New Year’s Day is an arbitrary point in time, one we have collectiva bit of greenely designated as a reminder to take a closer look at who we are.  So use it ~ not to judge yourself for all your bad habits and make promises to yourself that you never intend to keep – but use it as a simple reminder –

A reminder that today, like every day, is new, a day that has never existed before.  Anything can happen. On any given day little shifts can create big changes.  We can make adjustments to our direction,  choices to be happy,  appreciate what we have, those we love, who we are, the bigness of this life that we live.

It’s never too late to step out of old patterns, to do the things you always dreamed you could do, to create new adventures, and live with great bigness.  Whether it is a new day of a new year, or any other day,  it is possible to make a different choice ~  and as Mark Twain reminds us:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.
So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Magnificent suggestion! Whatever you do, wherever you are…. live the big life, whatever that means to you.   Seize this moment – don’t wait. Live it fully with joy and gratitude, and let every moment be your resolution, your creation.

The sun is out now, and the sky turns a bright blue.  Contrast is restored to the landscape, colors re-assert themselves.  People are awake and moving, life turns ’round on itself, and today is a brilliant day to begin again (for the first time).

On this beautiful New Year’s Day, 1/1/11, I wish you the greatest of  joy, an abiding peace, and a deep gratitude that gives you the courage to live the life you choose.

~
Peace is every step.

The shining red sun is my heart.
Each flower smiles at me.
How green, how fresh all that grows.
How cool the wind blows.
Peace is every step.
It turns the endless path to joy.

– Thich Nhat Hanh

pure joy

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may my words, thoughts, and actions contribute in some way to that happiness and freedom.

Om Shanti

Published in: on January 1, 2011 at 14:00  Comments (6)  
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Winter Solstice

fire “The Winter Solstice is one of the oldest and most potent rituals of renewal. As the northern hemisphere of the earth reaches its darkest point of the year, the Winter Solstice is the turning point of increasing light from December 21st onward. It is the sacred juncture within yoga and the Tantric Body that mirrors the drawing of the light and in-breath into the lotus of the heart – a linking of the individual and cosmic flow. This is further heightened by the alignment of the nurturing soma or inner nectar of the full moon. For many world cultures, the Solstice is the true new year as the ritual marker to truly let go, honor and bring closure to the past year and ignite our deepest visions and intentions for the coming year as the light is emerging. Our bodies as nature are intimately connected with this macro solar rhythm giving us a powerful opportunity to align and be in harmony with the greater flow.”    ~ Shiva Rea

Tomorrow is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. The depth of darkness precedes the returning of the light.  In many cultures the solstice is celebrated as a time of renewal and rebirth: out of darkness the birthing of the sun. It is no accident, I think, that it coincides with the western celebration of Christmas, and the story of the birthing of the son.

Seasons remind us that life is cyclical. The cold gives way to warmer days, dark turns again to light, we live, we die, we grieve loss and let go, and we celebrate renewal and give birth to new joy as we cycle through the seasons of our lives.  Darkness can be a time for turning inward, for reflecting, for taking stock – remembering the joys, the sorrows, the laughter and tears, acknowledging change and the shifts in “who we be” that come as a result of our experiences.

As I reflect on the many changes this past year – the growth and the sale of my business, letting go of what once looked like home, family re-connections, moving, travel and the opportunity to spend time with my sister, a deepening yoga practice, and through it all an evolving spiritual awakening – I am struck by a strong sense of change and evolution. Life is shifting.

I am letting go of who it is I have been up to now, making room for something new, some new expression of life and love.  I don’t know yet what it will look like, and so I open to possibility, moving in the moment, one breath at a time. I am grateful, and honored to take this journey through life with my husband JB, to have in my presence a mirror, a sounding board, another whole to share this life with.  I am grateful too for the friends whose hands and spirits have held me up in moments when I most needed it.  I am grateful that I can walk this path with my sister, whose life in many ways is a reflection of my own, and whose grace and strength touches my core, teaching me about love and letting go, connection and family, life and death.

Without darkness, we would not know the light ~ for as the light comes forth from the darkness so also does the darkness reside deep within the light.  Experiences, good and bad, are opportunities to ask….  Who Am I in the presence of This? and somewhere in the choices we make we discover we are more than what we had believed ourselves to be.

This winter solstice, I will be spending time in prayer and meditation, honoring the darkness within, opening to the light, and allowing intentions to unfold as they will…

sunrise
Joy to you in the year to come.  May you find your own peace in the midst of chaos, may common sense and reason guide your steps, may you laugh through all the ups and downs, gain wisdom through your experiences, be passionate in what you love, and revel in the living of your life.

Om Shanti ~ Namaste

~~~~~~~~~~~

May Peace Prevail on Earth

join with others in a universal prayer for peace

Published in: on December 20, 2010 at 12:49  Comments (1)  
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Welcoming Life

“Remember what it is that makes yoga different than exercise ~ for it to truly be yoga, there must be the mindfulness, the awareness, the willingness to feel and explore everything in your body, without judgment.  It takes courage to stay with what you feel….  ”

These words came from Angela, my yoga teacher, upon my return to her marvelous class.  As I listened, I wished for a moment that I were still teaching, so that I could pass the wisdom on….  and then I let that go, and came into the sensations in my body, discovering impatience and resistance, along with the joy of mindful presence.

I was recently introduced to a practice that comes from the contemplative Christian tradition, as taught by Father Thomas Keating and the Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault.  This practice, while coming from a Christian perspective echoes what I have learned over the years in yoga – that the willingness to feel exactly what is going on in your body without resisting it, and as Rumi says to “be grateful for whoever comes” – can lead you into a kind of surrender that allows for a deeper appreciation of life.

In this practice, called the Welcoming Prayer, you scan the body, noticing whatever is there …. pain, or numbness, or resistance…  any sensation.   If you find nothing to focus on, you simply become aware of the body itself, where it is in space, on the chair, etc.  Focus on the sensation, feeling it completely, sinking in to it,  and then say this word:

Welcome.

Welcome.  Welcome.  Welcome.

Then let go.  Let go of the need to change it, let go of the desire for this moment and this sensation to be anything other than what is.

What??  Welcome the pain?  Welcome the anger?  Welcome that annoying irritability?  OH NOOO!
But Yes…. perhaps I can welcome even the resistance to the welcoming…

This is what we work with all the time in yoga.  Feeling that edge of the pose that says “no more ” – feeling the impatience that comes up, or the wanting to quit, or the resistance to the practice itself….. and if we are truly doing yoga, we notice this, and notice how it plays out in our lives.  In practice, we learn to stay present with that anger until it moves into laughter, or not.  We learn to stay present with the uncomfortable sensations, feeling the freedom that comes when we let go of  resistance, noticing how we can use these tools in our life: in traffic, at work, with family.  We learn, if we are willing, compassion as well as mindfulness.

How many of us really want to feel our pain?  I’m not thrilled about welcoming the discomfort of being unable to breathe in an asthma attack after a hike up a mountain.  I don’t really want to welcome the irritability that comes up when reckoning with impatience as I struggle with a pose, or more practically learn how to live in a small space.  And I certainly don’t want to welcome the helplessness I feel when I see the pain my loved ones are in, and can do nothing.

Learning to stay present, however, opens us.  To stay present with pain can break open our hearts, deepen our understanding, teach us to be more compassionate, and grateful.  We can’t see with the bigger picture of All That Is. We can only know our own small piece of current being-ness. If we can stay with that little piece, maybe we will find that Rumi’s words are real… that whatever this is “may be clearing you out for some new delight.”

It does take courage. But then, living takes courage.  Whether we choose yoga as our path, or a Buddhist meditation practice, or the welcoming  and centering prayers found in the Christian contemplative tradition … or some other tradition….or no tradition at all…  it doesn’t matter.

What matters is our willingness to open, to welcome What Is in this life that we are living.  Call it the indwelling Christ, or the God I AM, or the Universal Presence, or simply Life….   Here we all are.  Can we live this moment, this now, as it is?    THIS is our experience.  And simply the fact of having this experience means that we are Here.

We are here, we are alive, this is good.

Today… Be in love with Life in all of its craziness.  Know that this is your experience, and because it is yours it is sacred and beautiful.

Published in: on November 23, 2010 at 08:50  Comments (2)  
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