Thursday, December 20, 2012

Moon Time



This is the time of the moon
the soft
and the cold time,
the time for baring branches
unabashedly, 
the glow time
and the know time,
the time for dark things
to come 
and rest in our arms,
cared for.

This is the time of tears
and broken breaths
for stillness
for sleep.

This is the moon time,
when your white bones
can cradle your regrets
while you sing yourself
a lulling song.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Gratitude Sunday

Good morning! I'm joining Taryn today, over at Wooly Moss Roots for

G r a t i t u d e  *  S u n d a y
{Sunday's heartfelt tradition. A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful. A list of gratitudes.} 
*

This week I have been grateful for

- The rain. It's been so peaceful and dark around here with rain pretty much constantly all week long. I missed the rain so much when I lived in Arizona. It's wonderful to have it now.

- Going on walks in the rain with the kids. We put on our rain gear and truly enjoyed the wonder of rainy days.

- Making this beautiful craft with the kids on a day that truly felt like winter. Candle holders out of clementines, cloves, and cranberries. They smelled wonderful too.

- Having had a car to drive this week. I've been riding my bike everywhere since April, and it's been such a blessing to have been lent a car these past two weeks. I was grateful to be dry throughout the day.

- Some wise words from a teacher, about how we all try to be so small. We should let that go, and be the biggest versions of ourselves. 

- A trip to the ocean. This always refreshes me. This time in particular, e.e. cummings words were strong: "as small as a world and as large as alone."

What have you been grateful for?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Conviction


Conviction. To me, it means staying true to our own path even when life is incredibly difficult, and the present moment is profoundly uncomfortable. Staying present when every drive you have is toward disconnecting and distraction. Giving up, even. There were several times this week when I just wanted to cry, and throw in the towel. What's the point? But this is it: the point is to be here. The point is to seek the truth of things, even in yourself, when it hurts. The point is to be courageous in this way. To know that it hurts. To know that you have the potential to hurt others. And yet. To keep going. To go with kindness and compassion. To remain aware of your intentions. To love yourself, even so. To accept the moment precisely as it is. Even when you are barely able to exist in your own skin. Of this I am convinced: the point is the truth. The truth is here and now. And I am capable of here and now.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Giving Thanks

Turning of the Gingko Leaves


Gratitude is a lifestyle. It's great that there's a holiday to remind us, but it's also a shame that we should need reminding. I remember very clearly the moment in my life when I realized gratitude was an every moment kind of thing. I was in my early twenties, and had been barrelling along, grateful here and there of course. But something shifted, and I saw the value of constant gratitude. Of gratitude for all of it, not just the things that made me prosper or feel good. I started to feed this feeling, and my life immediately became more fulfilling. I was more present and happier. And people noticed. I worked a stressful retail job, but during Thanksgiving week, I taped a big sheet of paper to the counter right beside the cash register, and at the top in bold letters I wrote "I am thankful for:" and I left some pens out beside it. I filled in the first few words, and let it take its course. By the end of the week, it was full, and everyone was so happy as they completed each transaction, reading other's gratitudes and recalling their own.

Unfortunately, I didn't keep up this practice. I let it fall to the wayside when life's stresses overwhelmed me. I would come back for periods, and then forget again. I would get caught up in the stories as we can do so easily. I would forget that the hard things were worthwhile.

Here I am eight or nine years later, and what I have experienced in the past year or two has brought me back to gratitude with a new strength and devotion. I have been so conscious of every little thing, and how it affects my life. And I have been making a greater effort to show people that I am grateful. This practice is very powerful. And it grows and grows.

My wish this Thanksgiving is that we can all embrace a lifestyle of gratitude.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Gratitude Sunday

I'll be joining Taryn this morning, over at Wooly Moss Roots for 

G r a t i t u d e  *  S u n d a y
{Sunday's heartfelt tradition. A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful. A list of gratitudes.} 
 

This week I have been grateful for:

- Having my plants inside unexpectedly. The building I live in is being repainted, so all of my potted plants had to move inside off the balcony. Their presence indoors really changed the space, so peaceful and beautiful. My basil loved the warmth so much, it flowered. 

- I also harvested all my calendula. So grateful to have such a powerful plant working with me.

- Some extra snuggles from kids this week. They were sweet and appreciated.

- The infectiousness of joy. Being around people who are deeply joyful gives me a deeper joy as well. I love that.

- Last weekend I had an amazing and incredible opportunity- I took a kid's yoga teacher training. It was really really wonderful. I am so grateful now to have the tools to share the gift of yoga with my little loves.

 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

One State Two State Red State Blue State

In light of yesterday's election, and the hordes and hordes of criticisms, complaints, discouragement, despair and other negativities, I wrote this:

Look, this country needs a lot of things, and no one man is capable of providing those things. Each of us must contribute- wake up, tap into compassion, confidence, wonder, and an open heart. Regardless of how you voted (or didn't) or how the results make you feel, make the most important decision for this world: the one that starts with yourself, your life, your speech, your actions. Know that you have an impact on every single person you encounter. It really does start with how two people treat one another, and ripples out from there.

I want to emphasize that there are plenty of people out here in the world who are actively trying to make this place better- not just for themselves, but for others. It's incredible that we can have this network of compassion and action. I want to send out words of encouragement- now most importantly. Let's stop lamenting, gloating, contending, dissenting, and drinking celebratory shots. The time is now. It's ripe. Let's wake up. It's your turn. Elect yourself.

In Gandhi's words, be the change you wish to see in the world.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Gratitude Sunday

Joining Taryn again this Sunday, over at Wooly Moss Roots for 

G r a t i t u d e  *  S u n d a y
{Sunday's heartfelt tradition. A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful. A list of gratitudes.} 
 
glowing calendula
 
This week I'm grateful for

- Watching all my plants grow glowy and full with 4 days of rain. It's been a long time since the last good rain.

- The healing power of plants. Making some medicinal honey to ease a scratchy throat fed my soul and helped me feel better.

- A lesson learned and relearned and learned again. In the words of a friend, "Invitation not expectation."

- The cradle of loving-kindess that gives me such rest and healing.

- Some warmer than usual weather after the rains, making the early dark skies much more enjoyable.

- The moonlight these past few nights. Brilliant and bathing. Keeping me present.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Under the Weather

It's cold and rainy here, and somewhat abruptly. That usually leads to sniffles and coughs. Both the families I work with are feeling a little under the weather. While I feel okay now, I do have a little scratch in the back of my throat, and my body isn't completely loving the vitamin C capsules I usually take at this point. It's craving something a little more... whole.

So I thought I'd share some DIY medicine.

First, a medicinal honey. I left the herbs in, but you can strain them out if you like.


You need
About 2 inches of ginger root, peeled and diced or grated
About 1/2 cup of rose hips
About 1/2 cup hibiscus flowers
4 TBSP local raw honey
Filtered water

Place the herbs in a saucepan and fill with enough water to cover the herbs generously. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Let simmer about 30 minutes. Add the honey and let simmer about 5 more minutes. Remove from heat. Take by the spoonful. If desired, strain out the herbs. Store in a glass jar.

Excellent immune booster, source of vitamin C, and throat soother.

Next, a vinegar cure.

You need
1 TBSP honey
1 TBSP raw apple cider vinegar
Boiling water

Add the boiling water to a glass with the honey and ACV. Let it dissolve, and drink. Preferably 2 times a day. Great immune booster.


And finally, rehydrate with fresh juice.

You need
2 carrots
2 apples
2 stalks celery
1 inch ginger, peeled
3 springs mint
slice of lemon




Run all but the lemon through the juicer. Squeeze lemon juice on top. This is an excellent source of electrolytes to help your body rehydrate when you're sick.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Gratitude Sunday

Today, I'm joining Taryn over at Wooly Moss Roots for 

G r a t i t u d e  *  S u n d a y
{Sunday's heartfelt tradition. A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful. A list of gratitudes.} 
*


This week I've been grateful for:

- Enjoying this season with some children who truly appreciate the magic of it. Autumn, harvest, Halloween, dia de los meurtos- all of it.

- Finding transformation- realizations that come from the greatest difficulty- or finding energy and motivation out of a painful situation.

- Using that energy to get my new etsy shop back up with some salves listed, and to finish my website.

- Truly understanding the adage "it takes a village to raise a child." It's always been hard for me to ask for or accept help, but these past few weeks my village has really come through for me. I've found so much support and been able to admit that I really need it right now. So gratitude for my village as well.

- A beautiful moment after introducing a child I care for (who just turned one) to a gingko tree. He spent the morning under its branches, not wanting to leave, and continually walking up to its trunk and just holding his hands there looking up. It was love. This was special to me because I find I have a strong connection to the gingko tree.


- Perspective. This lesson has come to me in every facet of my life, from a plane ride to a yoga class to a conversation, the space to find perspective has been granted to me in abundance.

- Lessons learned about myself- my own fears, motivations, and expectations. It's never easy to admit or embrace the fact that we often act unskillfully or have reasons for doing things that are not aligned with our heart. It's freeing to see this, and love ourselves as we are.


-Witnessing a vow. My stepbrother and his wife got married, and being able to watch that intimate moment between them where they formally committed to being life partners was very moving.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Proverbial Opening of the Other Door

You know how they say that when one door shuts, another one opens? It does. Some things happen in life that devastate us. And they are absolutely difficult. But somehow, from that space, the motivation arises for movement. A different direction, perhaps. Tending to loose ends. Figuring out where you are and how that compares with where you want to be.



This past week or so has given me the brain space for some hefty realizations. And also the energy to move forward with some projects I've been neglecting.

Those projects involve what I want to be doing with my life. What I've been in school for, and what my life experience has been teaching me. The healing arts. I've been making and selling herbal products off and on for a few years now, and I've been officially studying Holistic Health for two years now. My experience has brought me to work very closely with other people in order to help them find their own path to healing. Wilde Moon has been this project for some time now, but I'm coming to the place and space to start taking this more seriously. I eventually want to open a Healing Center that will incorporate all sorts of modalities and create a welcoming, peaceful space based in mindfulness and compassion that will invite anyone who needs it to explore their own healing potential in a non-threatening, open minded environment.

The first steps toward making this a reality involve putting myself out there. With that, I gratefully present to you the first fruits of this next step: my official website, and my new etsy shop (that will host herbal products only).

Wilde Moon Healing Arts

Wilde Moon Herbals on Etsy

Please let me know if I can be of service to you. I genuinely look forward to making my dream a reality.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

On Joy and Sorrow

Das Schweigen by Fussli
 This week has been pretty difficult for me, and these words are giving me lots of comfort.

From Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet:

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, "Joy is greater than sorrow," and others say, "Nay, sorrow is the greater."
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

opening and upward


Lines from e.e. cummings poems have carried me through life like a good friend. A word here or an image there have made me feel less alone, or more alone- depending on what I needed. Now I think of the line "here's to opening and upward," which comes from this poem.

Really, the word that first came to mind when I wondered what to call this post was "space". This word has been resonating strongly with me for the past few months, and more intensely, over this past week.

Last weekend (and into the beginning of this week), I was able to take a last minute trip back to Tucson, where I used to live. Since the first time I set foot in the Sonoran desert, I have been madly in love with her. That's a love story for a different time. But needless to say, a visit there is a healing journey.

Lately in my life, I have felt more and more... constricted. And my attempts to let go have yielded an even tighter grasp. We often get stuck in these cycles or stories, right? I even convinced myself a time or two that I was successfully letting go of my need to manage everything, to know what the next moment would bring. And in a sense, I was able to let go of that control in the context of the moment, but all the while I was holding on to my idealized expectation of the bigger picture. Which is not letting go at all.

Letting go involves letting go of ALL expectation. It's that really free place where it doesn't matter that you don't know anything except for that your feet are on the ground, your skin feels warm, the birds are calling for each other, and your right hip is aching.


What the desert gave me is the space to let go. Being there feels open, just physically. The horizon is vast, the sun is vibrant, the world is visibly breathing. There is nature everywhere. You are not disconnected, not crowded, not shuffling through a thousand other people's spaces to get somewhere. It helped to have no agenda there. Just being with friends, I was able to totally let go of the need to be anywhere or do anything specific. I could simply relax into myself.

And I felt free for the first time in... oh I have no idea. I thought I had been free all along. The mind is really great at convincing us that we've already done the difficult task- so that we can put it off a little longer.

Opening up around that constriction allowed the truth to rest in all of my being. The deeper reality of my self and my life. And an acceptance that settled around my bones like soft blanket on a cold winter's night.

Now, I feel more honest. And stronger, too.




Sometimes giving something a little space is all you need. You can give your day some space by taking the time to simply breathe and be. Give your emotions some space. Or your friends. Or a difficult situation. Or a fear. Or an expectation. A little space will lead to a wonderful opening and upward. Now if only I could remember to do this every time I needed to...

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sacred Space



This past spring, I had the chance to spend some time in Mexico, visit Chichen Itza and Isla Mujeres. This place was incredibly magical, and I came across a poem I'd written there. This photo is taken on the end of the island, near the shrine to the goddess Ixchel. There was something about that exact space, there on the cliff, that made me feel like I was in the womb of the world.


Temple

Breathe the ebb
and dance the flow

Prostrate to the sea
- the know

The pregnant cove
its jagged back

The sitting sun
-horizon cracks

The yolk of pink
against the day
the busty sea
that lulls the beach
with salty fingers
-secrets reach

The moon that reigns
the sacred rites
of hips and feet
and breasts and light

Cliffs of souls
their edges lick
the ancient rocks
 with magic thick


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Gratitude Sunday

Today, I'm joining Taryn at Wooly Moss Roots for 

G r a t i t u d e  *  S u n d a y 
 
{Sunday's heartfelt tradition. A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful. A list of gratitudes.} 
 

This week I am grateful for

- Homemade pumpkin muffins on a custom autumn plate and a get well card brought to me by the 6 year old boy I nanny for, when I was under the weather.

- For the first time, being able to celebrate the Equinox with a large group of people, who offered food, song, and poetry throughout the night. (Usually I celebrate it by myself, or with only a few others.)

- Being able to touch compassion in moments that are very difficult and driven by ego.

- Cooler weather at night, and a pair of wool socks to keep my toes warm.

- A homemade Bangladeshi comfort food meal- sooooo soothing to my soul, and shared amongst dear people.

- Waking up earlier than usual, and having more space in my day because of it.

- Some words from a friend that reminded me of my own strength. We all need to be reminded of that sometimes.

- A yoga practice that allowed me to let go of some things I was holding very tightly to.
 
What are you grateful for?
 

Gratitude Sunday

 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Autumn Equinox


Every year, as September nears its end, my soul exhales. And earth, it seems, becomes the great inhale. Of all the shifts in the wheel of the year, this one is my favorite. Slower than the others, and more spacious. Summer into autumn. One day you feel it- that crispness on the breeze that wasn't there the day before. And each day it becomes a little more noticeable. And then you catch the smell. The smell of autumn- that I have no idea how to describe. But it's there, and it feels like home.

There are those days where nothing seems to make sense because it's still so hot and sunny in the afternoon, and you're sweating just as much as you did all summer. But evening comes, and perhaps there's that first night you wear your wool socks. And it's back and forth like this, until the coolness creeps farther into the day, lingers a little longer. Equinox comes, and to me that means that soon enough I will be eating butternut squash soup and making pumpkin butter. The kitchen will smell like cinnamon and nutmeg, and warm mugs of tea will have a different significance.

This is also a time of reflection for me. My soul feels more solitude in autumn. Death a little closer. There's more space for me to exist. And more for me to let go. The leaves inspire me. The way they don't fight it. I can savor the transient nature of every moment- of my life. That nothing stays the same is more tangible this time of year. We know the trees will soon be bare. Somehow, my soul finds its way to bare as well.

On the way there, though, is the space of harvest and gratitude. The abundance of life that is the karma of spring and summer. We reap the fruits now. We see how far we've come, assess what we've learned. Find the gratitude there. Celebrate. Celebrate ourselves and our lives and each other.

I've written several dozen poems about autumn over the years. Tonight I'll be reading one at a harvest celebration. I thought I'd share a couple of them here.
The first, from years ago. The second, what I'll read tonight. Blessed equinox everyone.

***
-->
Autumn flares inside me
like the elegance of death-
a cold and sunny burning,
bringing passion back to breath.
The crispness of crescendo
in the auburn flooded trees
is a pain that dances always
on the flavor of the breeze.
If music had a color,
then autumn it would be.
If sunlight has a lover,
it's the fire in the trees.
The loneliness of falling
is the sharp of autumn air,
and the vibrancy of changing
is the beauty that it bares.
*** 
-->
The air turns-
the sun suddenly crisp
with ripening.

We move quietly
to pluck a moment from a branch.

The earth inhales,
and cloaks herself in autumn.

Life is closer to empty
now that the fields are bare-
the fruit preserved.

The leaves surrender
to time
with such colorful grace,

and green steps tenderly
aside to make room
for gray.

The birds fly south
so winter can have its silence.

There's a blossoming
in death,
not downward
or upward,

but opening

and space.

***

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Temples of Nature

"It is by far the grandest of all the special temples of Nature I was ever permitted to enter." John Muir, on Yosemite National Park

rainbow under Vernal Falls

view on the hike up to Glacier Point

hiking up to 8000 ft, some scary drops

Amazing rock formations

View of Half Dome from Glacier Point

View of Nevada Fall (top) and Vernal Fall from Glacier Point

View of Illilouette Fall through the trees

At the midpoint, waterfall pools, perfect swimming

View of Half Dome from the other side

At the top of Nevada Falls- so scary

Nevada Falls





I have been lucky enough to spend the past four days soaking up the wonders of Yosemite. A magical place, without doubt, and a place I've wanted to visit for years and years. I think of cartoons I watched as a kid that depicted Yosemite. And now I live only 3 hours away! 

We planned the trip last minute, and so chanced the lack of reservations. I think it worked out perfectly. At first, we stayed in White Wolf, a first-come campground north of the valley, and much higher in elevation. There were plenty of spots, but it was very cold at night. Then we went down to the valley and were able to snag the spots that people canceled for the rest of the time. We were pretty lucky because there were only 5 open spots one of those nights, and we still got one. The spots in the valley though are much more crowded and noisy. We had a very, very inconsiderate group next to us the last night, so I was a little grouchy the next morning.

We spent time wandering around, and driving through the park (it's an hour from White Wolf to the valley, and from the valley to Mariposa (the sequoia grove). And the speed limit in the park is 25 or 35- plenty of time to see the beauty.

The best part of the trip, besides the campfires and brilliant night skies and wildlife and fresh air and great food, was the epic hike we took on Monday. We originally decided to do the 4 mile trail, which is actually 4.8 miles up to Glacier Point... a 4000 ft elevation gain. We did this, and it was breathtaking, literally. The higher up we got, the more my fear of heights kicked in. In some spots, straying off the trail is a straight shot down-- so far down. But it was beautiful beyond measure. When we got to the top, it was a bit disappointing because you can also drive up to the point. So it was full of tourists in REI gear eating ice cream on the way from their cars to the viewpoint. I had to wait my turn to even get a picture. Blah. We talked to a man who said he'd met another man who made it up in 3 hours and so decided to take the Panorama Trail back down to the valley. We looked at eachother, realized we'd made it up in less than 3 hours, and decided to take that trail as well. Sure beat heading straight back down. From Glacier Point it's 8.5 miles back around to the other side and down to the valley, but you get views of 3 more falls and the entire valley. So we started down, down, down. We passed Illilouette Falls, and then found the most magical place in the states, yet. It's a series of pools and little falls, cascading down the mountain into the valley. The water in the pools has no current, so it's not like swimming near a waterfall. The pools are surrounded by granite, and the views are incredible. The water was brisk and fresh, and we took a little swim. So refreshing. This was the perfect thing to get us going again. We soon came to the top of Nevada Falls, which is one of the scarier spots I've been. You can look straight over the top of the falls, and if you walk down to the rocks beside, there are rails, and if you look out over the rail, you are so close to the rapidly falling water, and you can watch it hit the rocks straight down. Ugh. Awe inducing. Hiking from there to Vernal Falls below was the most difficult part of the day for me. The trail was pure rock covered in dirt, and my shoes are wearing out so they were not gripping. It was slippery and steep and there was not much room for error. Luckily I had a stick, and I just took it super slow. I need some better shoes. It was worth it, though. We made it back down to the valley around 7 pm, after starting at 10 am. It was the perfect day, with epic views.

Before leaving, we drove to the south side of the park to check out the giant sequoias at Mariposa grove. You had to take a shuttle to the grove and deal with hordes of tourists aimlessly wandering through the area. More ice cream there, too. (What's up with all the ice cream in Yosemite?) It was difficult for me to appreciate fully the beauty of those trees because of all the people around. I guess after a day of being away from all the people, that kind of energy is more intrusive. Some of the trees there are 2000 years old. Blows my mind. But they didn't seem so large. I may be spoiled by all the redwoods. 

This place, overall, is indescribable. What a wonderful getaway into nature. I really miss going on hikes regularly, and getting out into the wilderness. The Bay Area is so crowded- it seems impossible to really get out there.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Gratitude Sunday

I'm joining Taryn over at Wooly Moss Roots for Gratitude Sunday.

G r a t i t u d e  *  S u n d a y
{Sunday's heartfelt tradition. A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful. A list of gratitudes.} 
*


What I've been grateful for this week:

- Spending time with children who are getting so excited about the coming of autumn. We even made caramel apples with the first apples that are ready out here.
 
- A soak in an epsom salt bath, with a cup of holy basil tea, when my body was aching and sore from yoga.
 
- The smiling faces of people- strangers and friends- which brighten my day.
 
- An inspiring day spent with people who are actively trying to create enlightened society.
 
- A card from my grandmother.
 
- Leaves beginning to crunch underfoot.
 
- A bouquet of flowers from a beloved little boy.
 
- Playlists that match my mood and the weather on bike rides to work.

- A moment of space, sitting with my back against a gingko tree, just breathing.


What are you thankful for?


Gratitude Sunday

 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Heart of Sadness



Lately I've been able to really understand the term "genuine heart of sadness." It's a phrase I've heard in teachings before, but didn't fully grasp.

The etymology of the word "sad" was also recently brought to my attention. Full, overwhelmed, sated, and steadfast are all there. Look it up.

And as for the other, here's an excerpt from one Shambhala teaching:

"...But when you sit upright but relaxed in the posture of meditation, your heart is naked. Your entire being is exposed-to yourself, first of all, but to others as well. So through the practice of sitting still and following your breath as it goes out and dissolves, you are connecting with your heart. By simply letting yourself be, as you are, you develop genuine sympathy towards yourself.

When you awaken your heart in this way, you find, to your surprise, that your heart is empty. You find that you are looking into outer space. What are you, who are you, where is your heart? If you really look, you won't find anything tangible and solid. Of course, you might find something very solid if you have a grudge against someone or you have fallen possessively in love. But that is not awakened heart. If you search for awakened heart, if you put your hand through your rib cage and feel for it, there is nothing there except for tenderness. You feel sore and soft, and if you open your eyes to the rest of the world, you feel tremendous sadness. This kind of sadness doesn't come from being mistreated. You don't feel sad because someone has insulted you or because you feel impoverished. Rather, this experience of sadness is unconditioned. It occurs because your heart is completely exposed. There is no skin or tissue covering it; it is pure raw meat. Even if a tiny mosquito lands on it, you feel so touched. Your experience is raw and tender and so personal.

The genuine heart of sadness comes from feeling that your nonexistent heart is full. You would like to spill your heart's blood, give your heart to others. For the warrior, this experience of sad and tender heart is what gives birth to fearlessness. Conventionally, being fearless means that you are not afraid or that, if someone hits you, you will hit him back. However, we are not talking about that street-fighter level of fearlessness. Real fearlessness is the product of tenderness. It comes from letting the world tickle your heart, your raw and beautiful heart. You are willing to open up, without resistance or shyness, and face the world. You are willing to share your heart with others."

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Gratitude Sunday

Today, I'm joining Taryn over at Wooly Moss Roots for Gratitude Sunday.

G r a t i t u d e  *  S u n d a y
{Sunday's heartfelt tradition. A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful. A list of gratitudes.} 
*
If you would like to join us, see below. 
Our gratefulness feeds one another. 
*
 
 
 
- Finding some amazing books at the library this week, like Thich Nhat Hanh's Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness with Children.

- Watching my plants grow and thrive- lavender, basil, and calendula are all swooning in the sun.
 
- Some beautiful weather this week, with the crispy hint of autumn tickling my heart.
 
- Being able to buy some fresh produce from a farmer at his roadside stand today.
 
- An afternoon at the beach. Much needed. Toes in sand, cold water invigorating and numbing my calves, waves washing my soul. 
 
- A morning of tea and genuine people.
 
- A teacher who shed some insight on an experience I was having. Her words, "Soft front; Strong back."
 
- A yoga practice that gave some energy and detoxification to my body which was fighting some sort of bug.
 
- A glass of fresh juice in the middle of the day- carrot, celery, apple, ginger, and coconut water.

- A conversation that had been happening over and over with no comprehension or resolution, which was finally fully engaged in, understood, and is now coming to fruition.

- A chance to share in gratitude with so many others of you!


Gratitude Sunday


Friday, August 24, 2012

Alive

"Because you are alive, everything is possible." 
-Thich Nhat Hanh 


My calendula happily sunning


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Intimacy

Intimacy is one of those words that pops up in all sorts of contexts. Whenever you read things about creating good relationships, that's the keyword. So intimacy with others is something we want, sure. Emotional, physical, spiritual, whatever.

But what about intimacy with ourselves? Most of us have no idea what that means. But I think it's the most important aspect of living full lives.

Webster defines intimate as

2in·ti·mate

adj \ˈin-tə-mət\
1
a : intrinsic, essential b : belonging to or characterizing one's deepest nature
2
: marked by very close association, contact, or familiarity <intimate knowledge of the law>
3
a : marked by a warm friendship developing through long association <intimate friends> b : suggesting informal warmth or privacy <intimate clubs>
4
: of a very personal or private nature <intimate secrets>
in·ti·mate·ly adverb
in·ti·mate·ness noun
 
 

So, thinking of intimacy with self, we make friends with ourselves. We listen and love and find compassion for our own experience. We learn about how our minds work, how we react. We recognize our patterns of behavior. We get to know ourselves on a personal level.

This requires turning off the TV and the iPod, dropping the facades, and opening our hearts... to our hearts. It requires quiet and space. And most of all, acceptance. It means we can see ourselves without creating judgements of how good or bad we are. It means we can touch our own worthiness. Our own gentleness.

Becoming familiar with our essential being, our deepest nature, opens up freedom in the rest of our lives.

Through this practice, we are our utmost selves. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Lovesong

Lately, T.S. Eliot has been on my mind. Specifically, "The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock." The words of this poem kept coming into my mind during meditation this weekend. And re-reading it in light of mindfulness brings it alive in a different way for me. (This poem has always been dear to my heart.)

The experience of this poem is oh so human. It is, in fact, raw. And there are lines that stand out to me:

Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.


If we observe our minds- this truth is resounding. The things we go through in a minute's time. The doubts and fears and plans and reversals of plans- the judgements and emotions, etc. It can be exhausting. 

And the "Do I dare" is a line that has always been meaningful to me, in different ways over different parts of my life. Most recently, I can connect it to how we all question our own worthiness. But what right do we have to do that? We question our goodness and whether or not we deserve some thing or another. Even our own love. So do I dare disturb the universe with this mind of mine? And these silly questions? And this existence I'm not so sure of? Well, of course I dare. Because I am here. 

The main voice speaks of his life and his fear. Of what he is not, and what he deserves. He questions his own worthiness. And the words of the poem are populated with the nitty gritty details of life- the hair on the arms of the women, the collar mounting to the chin, etc. And in the space between- the question. The overwhelming question, no less. And the one that is never outrightly asked.

The speaker is afraid to ask it, though it rests there ripe in his mouth. And the best line,

Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?

I love this image. The moment at its crisis. And don't we all wonder? Do we dare to meet the moment at its crisis? Right there, raw, exactly as it is, full of our fear or discomfort or questions or doubts? Do we have the strength to truly be present? To allow ourselves the space of being where nothing must be done? Where we do not hide from that raw reality?

I've learned a lot lately about Freedom from Reluctance. The reluctance we all have to meet the moment. There are so many excuses and so many distractions. But we can find that strength and bravery (because it takes an awful lot of it) to be present. With ourselves and with others, and finally in the world.

We can let go of fear, and of what others may think (as Eliot illustrates so wonderfully in this poem- it always goes back to someone else saying, "that is not it at all"). We have this freedom to simply be.

And this is a lovesong to ourselves. Our most authentic selves. Our true beings.

If you want to be moved, listen to Eliot read this aloud. His voice and manner of speaking are so wonderful.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Gratitude Sunday


 Today, I'm joining Taryn at Wooly Moss Roots for Gratitude Sunday.

G r a t i t u d e  *  S u n d a y
{Sunday's heartfelt tradition. A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful. A list of gratitudes.} 


What I am grateful for:

Meeting a person whose gentleness of being moved me so much, it restored my confidence in my own gentleness.

A weekend spent with people who are committed to a path of authenticity, and the inspiration that comes with being amongst such people.

Some space inside my being- moments that open up around things we've been so constricted around.

Authentic Bangladeshi meals, prepared with so much love by friends.

Good news for a dear friend- seeing her get a chance to realize her dreams.

A loving man who takes care of things when I'm away so I won't have to do it myself later.

Doing artwork with children, and the openness and joy it brings to all of us.

What are you grateful for this week?


Gratitude Sunday



Friday, August 17, 2012

Discomfort



I've been thinking about discomfort lately. Well, I've always thought about it , really, but my understanding is gaining more depth.

I've always had this love/hate relationship with comfort. At first, it was physical comfort that I related to: what kind of house I lived in, whether the kitchen had the right appliances to be able to make my favorite foods, whether or not I had a car. I would crave these things, and then once I had them become so overwhelmed with the monotony of the life it took to sustain them, that I would let them go (sometimes some other times more) and move on.  And it would happen all over again.

I understand that the reason I've lived in so many different places is in some attempt to stave off that routine, mundane existence that seems to show up without fail after a few months of being in a place. I'd play house for a while, find a job, stick to a schedule- all in an attempt to create stability. And as soon as it was there, I'd be sick of it already.

And during these times, I'd more or less been oblivious to whether or not I was experiencing internal discomfort. Or I wouldn't think of it like that, anyway. I just thought I had gypsy blood- or something more poetic than an inability to cope.

These past two years or so, however, have been sobering. Literally and otherwise. I actually began to look inside with openness. It's not that I'd never looked inside (I spent most of my time in there). It's that I was looking at stories that led to stories that led to stories. There was hardly a moment of present reality. I didn't know what was going on "here" or "now".

Beginning a regular yoga practice was the first thing that brought me to the present. It taught me to pay more attention to my body. To breathe (what in the world did I do before I learned about my breath?). To stay there, in a pose, in the pain or discomfort of it, and to experience what it felt like. What were the sensations? What was it like to breathe into that space? To open up some space around the discomfort? To accept my experience as it was without judgement?

And discomfort took on an entirely new meaning to me. Now it was internal. And here and now. It had nothing to do with a juicer. As I began to meditate regularly, I began looking at all the mental and spiritual discomfort as well. And the same questions arose. What did it feel like to open up some space around the fear? To let go of the stories and experience the sensations instead?

So I began to seek out these experiences of discomfort: going to yoga class and meditating regularly- even going on meditation retreats. And I still do this.

Four times a week I go to yoga class. I work or pay to go. I put myself in a hot room for 90 minutes and stay present with my body as it protests, creaks, aches, stretches, thanks me, and any other number of things. I listen to my thoughts, which suggest, after every posture, that I should take child's pose during the next posture because it is too difficult. Yet when the posture changes, I don't rest. I do it. And yes, it is uncomfortable. Sweat gets in my eyes. I sometimes feel nauseated or dizzy. But ultimately, I feel. I feel sensations and thoughts and the present moment. And afterwards, I feel like a million bucks. Stronger, healthier, and more vibrant.

And then I get on the cushion and sit. Willingly. I sit for 30 minutes or an hour. I experience anxiety or fear or anger or happiness or confusion, and I don't get up until the bell rings. I sit with achy hips or legs falling asleep or tired eyes. My thoughts, here too, suggest that I get up. Because it is uncomfortable.  But I stay.

What this is teaching me is to stay. I've always been really good at leaving. At going. At moving on. (Hence what I titled this blog when it first began: Follow the Setting Sun).

In Buddhism, there's something to be said for the rising sun. One explanation elaborates on the beginning of one of the Shambhala chants, "By the confidence of the golden sun of the great east..."


                   Great Eastern Sun:  the primordial dot/now, the present moment  
                   ripe with the possibility of all possible outcomes

And so, I am learning about the value of the rising sun, the present moment. And staying in it. Whether physically or otherwise. 

I realize that if I seek out all of these experiences of discomfort in my life, then why would I shy away when life itself is uncomfortable? Rather, I experience it- all the sensations of life. And I stay here. Because really, where else is there?



Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Open

Why do you stay in prison
When the door is so wide open?
-Rumi

 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Acceptance

I'm reading A Path with Heart by Jack Kornfield. It's one of those books where you want to highlight every other sentence. You should all read the whole thing, but until then, I'll share some of the passages.




"Struggle and dictating doesn't work in our inner life either. S we must inquire what aspect of this repeated pattern is asking for acceptance and compassion, and ask ourself, 'Can I touch with love whatever I have closed my heart to?' This doesn't mean solving it or figuring it out- it is simply asking, 'What wants acceptance?' In difficult patterns of thought, emotion, or sensation, we must open to feel their full energy in our body, heart, and mind, however strongly they show themselves. This includes opening to our reactions to this experience as well, noticing the fear, aversion, or contraction that arises and then accepting it all. Only then can it release."

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Gratitude Sunday


Gratitude Sunday


Today I'm joining Wooly Moss Roots for Gratitude Sunday. I hope to be able to do this every Sunday. Click the image to join in!

What I have felt grateful for this week:

- Opportunities that seem difficult but end up teaching me how to open my heart even more

- An abundance of fresh, local produce

- Meeting other people on a path to authenticity

- My amazing yoga teachers and the smiles they bring to my practice

- A message from a dear friend, reminding me of a place I miss

- Never ending kisses from a beautiful baby boy

- Sunshine and heat (I've missed high summer temperatures)

- Being able to support a friend as she strives for her goals, displaying courage, strength, and joy along the way

- A book that was gifted to me by someone I just met: A Path With Heart by Jack Kornfield. It's amazing how books will find their way into your life at the exact right moments.

Fresh Things

You may have noticed. I'm revamping this space. The hope is that I'll utilize it more. I considered starting a new blog entirely, but I like the idea of keeping the old around. When I read some of those first entries, I am amazed at how I have grown and what I have learned. I can appreciate the journey and the beauty of change. By keeping them here, and contributing new things to this space, maybe you can too.

I'd like to transition from mostly a chronicle of travels and activities to a dialogue about life. I'd like to post more about my spiritual journey and not just my physical one. So, thoughts, reflections, meditations, book reviews, and even photographs will be contributed here.

I've recently been engaged in several projects that move me in this direction. One is an article, posted here, by Shambhala SunSpace. This is exciting for me, to be able to share my reflections with so many.

Now, hopefully, I'll be posting more variedly and more frequently. Feel free to contribute thoughts or suggestions.

Eventually, I will change my url to match my title, once I am satisfied with it. :)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Present Moment Sucks

Check out my new article, here.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

It's just like riding a bike

I have been putting off writing, mostly because there is so much to catch up on that it seems overwhelming. I'm sure I'll forget at least a few of the funniest stories, and most bizarre circumstances. I may end up just posting little anecdotes from the past few months at random. However it comes out, the story will be pieced together eventually.
I left Nashville almost two months ago now, and spent 3 weeks on the road, wandering through the Midwest, spending lots of time in Denver/Bolder, paying homage to my beloved Sonoran desert, taking a little jaunt down to the Yucatan, and winding up out here in California. When I look for adventure, I always find it. (The thing is- I'm always looking.) Amongst the most interesting stories, the main one involves love. In addition to that, there are nights of sleeping on couches, meeting full fledged Fruititarians for the first time, encountering the Medical Marijuana culture for the first time (so prevalent in Denver-- and as a student of medicinal plants, I have lots to say about that), snowshoeing for the first time, visiting the "red light district" of Dharma Centers (did you know that was possible?), meditating in the Great Stupa, yoga in so many different cities, hot springs and yurts, feeling like a city didn't want me there, being unable to pick up a rental car in Mexico because my credit card didn't have raised numbers, finding a magical island, living in a tent while the nights were freezing cold, being homeless in a cool city, my car dying on the side of the freeway (engine blew a rod; RIP Thel), learning to get around my bicycle, and so on and so on.
The bicycle is really what I sat down to write about. The last time I used a bike for purposes other than leisure was in college, when I rode my bike to classes. It has never, though, been my primary means of transportation. Thankfully, I had lugged a bike my dad let me have all the way across the country on my car. So when my car died, I actually had one (despite having lost a wheel somewhere in Kansas- easily and cheaply replaced). So I've been learning to get around town on it. I'm fine riding a bike in a park, but in traffic I get nervous. It's getting easier every day, as I get used to it. But, there's this certain amount of discomfort involved. For one, my ass hurts. I'm sure that will fade (it's only been a week). Second, my legs get sore easily when I ride a lot that day. I'm not used to that. And it makes riding a little more uncomfortable. But that's not really a big deal. My discomfort is mostly mental. I'm not a very strong rider, so there's a whole lot of people going faster than me, etc., etc. I also don't know my way around, so there's the trying to read street signs and second guessing the way. There's the traffic, which scares me, though luckily there are plenty of bike lanes and bike friendly roads (mostly just not the main road). And for some reason when I'm riding and all these uncomfortable thoughts and experiences come up (the bike line is blocked by construction; I don't know how to jump up a curb; where are we?) and then all these emotions start to stir. It seems just like being on the cushion for me. All this discomfort, and all these emotions rising and falling. Weird things I haven't felt or thought about in years. And the more I resist, the harder it is. I fell off my bike yesterday (no injuries or anything) mostly because I was caught up in an emotion. It's really quite the amazing experience, to have the chance to be mindful while riding. Because that's exactly what it is like. You have to allow whatever experience is happening to just be. You have to stop judging yourself. You have to be gentle with yourself. And let go of all those thoughts. Or else you won't get anywhere. You'll fall off your bike. But when you let it all go, everything is just fine. And there you are. Riding your bike. Instead of the inhale and the exhale, it's the noise of the wheels spinning. And there I am. Right there. Present moment. Only moment.