I wake up and look out my window – joyful summer flowers blooming, the sparkle of water in our pool, birds cheering the day and sun shining over the garden! I am grateful for many blessings, my freedoms, for sweet America, for the forefathers who came together with a vision to resist oppression and wrote the Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. My prayer for America today is that we recognize and utilize our strength of spirit, insight, awe of the beauty around us, and a full perspective of the choices and possibilities for our country, its people and all people everywhere. May we protect our mother earth and nourish her to health and vitality. May we open our eyes to the suffering of people and animals around us, and lend a hand to make this world a better place in which to live now and for future generations. May we have the vision and strength of the great eagle. Today, may we lead the way in changing the culture of oppression within and without our great country.
I love this Thomas Merton quote,
“In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all these people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world. . . .
This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud. . . . I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now that I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.
Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed. . . . But this cannot be seen, only believed and ‘understood’ by a peculiar gift.”
I’ve been breaking ground and unearthing while getting my garden ready. It’s amazing what comes up from the ground: old rotten roots, hardened clumps, grubs that can destroy new plants, worms and toads full of life. Seems like an analogy for life, when we take time for reflection, inquiry and acknowledgement of the present moments, as well as of all the beliefs and old patterns we hold from a lifetime of conditioning. The other day I was driving down the road after an incredible kayak trip, singing along ecstatically with my favorite Eva Cassidy songs and feeling the beauty all around me. Then I got some news that unearthed memories of old sadness and shame around growing up in a family with mental illness at a time when there was little public awareness and even less help. For many years the effects were wounds invisible to the outside – an inner and lonely experience. What does it take to heal? Well, for me it was a self revealing, an acceptance, a learning to love my self and others, and a sharing of gifts. When I heard this news about my relatives, I allowed myself some tears and pain, and the release of loud yelling from my core, and then practiced the “5 A’s”. Hope these will help you or someone you love.
The Five A’s for widening the window of tolerance for our emotions, thoughts & actions, and for creating witness consciousness & enhancing self regulation:
Attention: Pause & be present. Bring attention to what is in the moment, the here and now.
Awareness: With a spirit of inquiry and awareness of body, mind, emotions, and beliefs, create a bridge to Self. The Self is the witness of all things.
Acceptance: Accept all that arises with ease and gentleness, and allow yourself to open to the present. If there is something that you do not like, you can say to yourself: I will sit with this for just a moment. Accept all of yourself and live in equanimity with all your parts, the light and dark, joys, and sorrows.
Ahimsa: Practice “loving kindness” toward yourself and others. Say a kind word, place a hand over your heart, touch yourself tenderly. Bring another to mind and send them “loving kindness.”
Action: Share the fruits of your practice with others today!
Join me for two minutes of Qi gong by the water!
Don’t Do it! Make those resolutions, that is. It’s not time yet. There is a better way!
On my vacation, I have seen iguanas many times and on my way home tonight there was a huge one sitting absolutely still in the middle of the road. I had to hold up a bunch of cars until a local man stopped to help, who knew how to get her to move. Then she bolted into the jungle.
The iguana is a satisfied and restful creature who knows how to bask in the magnificence of life! The iguana has clearly mastered the Art of Simplicity!
The iguana spirit has reminded me to be content, to stop, rest, have some ease, breathe, relax and bask in the sun, to flow with the rhythms of nature and be held by great mother earth. She reminds me to appreciate stillness.
I have been contemplating my ability to be content. I certainly fail here again and again, but the more I bring in awareness and gratitude the more I notice when I am content. I catch myself when I am wanting more, something else, the feeling of lack or not good enough, or the need to do more. I can stop, gain repose and rest in ease. I am good enough, life is wonderful and I have all I need when I rest in pure and simple awareness of the Great I Am!
For the timing of those resolutions, wait. Winter is the time to go inside, to rest, reflect, contemplate, to embrace the darkness and just be. Even the birds, insects, plants and animals require a time of rest. Can you relax and find more ease somewhere? Perhaps in your breath, body, actions, pace of life, criticism of self or others, or whatever gets in the way of just being and appreciating who you are, who you are with, or what you have?
Back to the iguana. She knows how to rest and she knows how to move, and quickly, when it’s time for action. Give yourself some time for repose and soon when the winter fades it will be time to take more action again. Synchronicity has it Valerie from Esparanza Beach Yoga asked during class “Where can you soften and do less?” Where can you do less, soften, ease up and be content? I wish you time for rest, reflection, looking deep within, rejuvenation and ease.
Aum Shanti, Peace, Paz