cold dreams

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The day was intensely pure, one of those incomparable bits of California winter, warm and balmy and full of white sparkling sunshine, redolent of all the purest influences of the spring, and at the same time enlivened with one of the most bracing wind-storms conceivable. Instead of camping out, as I usually do, I then chanced to be stopping at the house of a friend. But when the storm began to sound, I lost no time in pushing out into the woods to enjoy it. For on such occasions Nature has always something rare to show us, and the danger to life and limb is hardly greater than one would experience crouching depreciating beneath a roof……….John Muir

coming undone around the dark and bare roots, around the cycles of cold and bright, hot sun………noticing each sweet breath that warms the soul with the inertia of winter……

People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within……Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

bark & skin & roots

It is from the elements of the Earth that we are given birth, and it is the fruits of the Earth that nurture us so that we can live and grow. The Earth is the foundation for our houses, for our communities, for our civilizations. It is on the surface of Earth that we walk, and it is on the solidity of the Earth that we lie down to deep. And eventually, when we cease to live, we will return to the Earth, in one way or another. When our inherent value and dignity as human beings is witnessed, whether by the Earth or by those around us, it can transform our life…..Jack Kornfield

groomed to love

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Nothing I have ever done or will ever do
can separate me from
or bring me into the heart of the Beloved.

Oh, I can distract myself from the longing
that whispers day and night for that sacred union,
and some days I am too tired to notice
that what I ache for is and always has been here:
. . . . right here in and at my fingertips,
in the way the breeze lifts my hair,
the way the earth pulls me to her,
the way shared laughter makes my sides ache.

Nothing I have done or will ever do
can make me worthy or unworthy
of being touched by the Lover’s hand and heart,
of being the Lover’s hand and heart in the world.

Grace – the way Infinite Love
gives Himself to us in every moment
the way God unfurls Her tender mercy in our hearts
is a constant invitation to say with the fullness of our being:
Yes.
Yes.
Yes.

……Oriah Mountain Dreamer

forgetting to be in love with love removes us from the source of who we are……leaving us to grapple with aloneness…..funny how we come back to love again and again…the infinite, mysterious pull of grace……

We think life is strong and love is fragile, but really it is the other way around. Life hangs by a thread and love holds the Universe together.

……Judith Lassater

That Mystery
devastating in its immensity,
it whispers:
“I am your very self.
…..Ivan M. Granger

believing in the miracle of trust

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Intimacy begins with oneself.

…..Thomas Moore

can we understand our intuitive & sensual knowing? can we lean into not understanding it…….& simply be in it?

You can learn to trust the one who knows, to experience consciousness as the space of awareness that is unchanging, independent of circumstance. It is open and clear and luminous. It is the space of knowing and compassion, of conscience and wisdom. The One Who Knows invites you to step outside of time, outside of the endless worries about the future, and the repeated re-runs of the past. The one who knows takes refuge in the present moment. A day at a time, the present moment is all we have, and it becomes the doorway to true calm, your healing refuge. The only place you can love, or heal or awaken is here and now, the eternal present. You cannot know the future. But you can plant beautiful seeds here and now and learn to tend them with the love and courage and survival instinct that is born in you. Somerset Maugham wrote, “There are three rules for writing the Great English noval. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” He wrote marvelous novels, the only way we can, a page at a time. Whether cancer or divorce or loss or conflict, the one who knows understands that it is here in the present that we begin to heal. The one who knows has the courage to acknowledge the way things are, and to care and love and trust, no matter what. It is ever present and unattached, open to whatever is happening.

But becoming aware and mindful, resting in the one who knows in the midst of your struggles, is not some magical cure. Your problems will not automatically and easily disappear. Being anxious and sad, angry and fearful, hurt, lost, and even despairing in challenging times is part of the natural process of suffering. Even being overwhelmed by these difficult emotions is a natural part of the journey. If you judge yourself against some impossible ideal of how you think you “should” be feeling and acting as you struggle, you’ll only add to your suffering. To be mindful and awake is not some magical state without any problems.

“If you can sit quietly after difficult news; if, in financial downturns you remain perfectly calm; if you can see your neighbors travel to fantastic places without a twinge of jealousy; if you could happily eat whatever is put on your plate; if you can fall asleep after a day of running around without a drink or a pill; if you can always find contentment just where you are: you are probably a dog.”

Being alive is to find ourselves in the midst of a great and mysterious paradox. The one who knows realizes that there are ten thousand joys and sorrows in every life, and at one time or another we will be touched by all of them. We will all experience birth and death, success and loss, love and heartbreak, joy and despair. And in every moment of your life there are millions of humans just like you all over the world who are being confronted by situations that are equally overwhelming and are struggling just like you to somehow learn how to survive them. As George Washington Carver wrote, “How far you go in life depends on you being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong … because some day in life you will have been all of these.”

As you become intimate with your suffering, your heart grows tender.

….Jack Kornfield

a time for everything

Truth is not something outside to be discovered,

it is something inside to be realized.

…..Osho

 

settling into lost spaces

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If there’s one piece of advice I would give every person, it would be to get lost.

Finding yourself is not a comfortable process, nor should it be. It is petrifying.

This period of confusion is the catalyst for questioning everything, for evaluating your life and your place in it. When you start asking the questions, you will find the answers. Just be prepared—your answers may not be the answers you want, but they are always the answers you need.

If you already feel lost, listen closely. Your spirit is screaming, “Help! I’m bored and confused. This present circumstance is no longer fulfilling me. Start looking again. Search every corner. Try new things. Fail miserably and then try something else until you find me. Keep going until you laugh again, until you discover understanding, acceptance, happiness, joy, and most importantly, purpose.”

When you feel lost, you’ve lost your purpose.

I remember being consumed with guilt for feeling unappreciative of my blessed life. Over the past few years, I’ve learned that my external circumstance (no matter how perfect it may appear) is insignificant if my internal circumstance is broken, lost and void of aspirations. If I have no purpose, my surroundings will feel purposeless too.

How do you find purpose?

Do something, anything. Do anything that is the opposite of what you are doing right now.

Get uneasy, get scared, become a beginner again. If you think you know it all, find something you know nothing about, and learn it well.

Observe how you respond and react. You will learn something new about yourself; not only about your character, but what turns on your light. Once you’ve found something that turns on your light, you’ve found purpose.

When you place yourself in foreign situations, you arrive in your most concentrated form. You will always bump into yourself in the unfamiliar.

The most difficult part of this process is the aloneness. You can’t rely on anyone else to guide you in the right direction. This is a solo mission. Doing it alone, is the whole point of the journey.

Listen to yourself regardless of what others may say. All that matters is your encouragement, not others’ discouragement.

What got me through was trust. I trusted I was always where I was supposed to be, and I would end up where I was meant to be.

This is your one life. It would be a tragedy to never discover yourself.

You can’t discover yourself unless you look for yourself, so get lost.

…….Rebecca Lammersen

we carry those old selves around like heavy stones…..it can be a long and hard journey without beginning or end…..may the journey become one of curiosity and vibrancy…..the stones, a beautiful cairn of the heart…

Keep walking, though there’s no place to get to.

Don’t try to see through the distances.

That’s not for human beings.

Move within,

but don’t move the way fear makes you move.

Today, like every other day,

we wake up empty and frightened.

Don’t open the door to the study

and begin reading.

Take down a musical instrument.

Let the beauty we love be what we do.

There are hundreds of ways to kneel

and kiss the beloved.

….Rumi

subtle eons

The heart that breaks open

can contain the whole universe.

…..Joanna Macy

before & after a fleeting moment

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Today in my practice gratitude for soul-desires arose within me. I smiled to think of all the times I have felt genuine gratitude for the fulfillment of dreams, but missed the opportunity to sit with appreciation for the grace that plants the seeds of deeper desires in my heart. These desires: for silence, solitude, community, connection; to love the world, others & myself as we are; to know the Presence of that which is larger within & around me. . . . these are doorways into meaning, mystery and magic. How blessed we are to have these desires arise. May we let them guide us home……Oriah Mountain Dreamer

may we remember to reconnect with the simplest ideals….the ones that aren’t really ideals after all, but rather little stars that we catch as they alight in the gentlest way….those moments of clarity that we could surely miss if we didn’t trust…….

Late Fragment

And did you get what

you wanted from this life even so?

I did.

And what did you want?

To call myself beloved, to feel myself

Beloved on the earth.

….Raymond Carver

reincarnating the messy stuff

This is the most profound spiritual truth I know: that even when we’re most sure that love can’t conquer all, it seems to anyway. It goes down into the rat hole with us, in the guise of our friends, and there it swells and comforts. It gives us second winds, third winds, hundredth winds. It struck me that I have spent so much time trying to pump my way into feeling the solace I used to feel in my parents’ arms. But pumping always fails you in the end. The truth is that your spirits don’t rise until you get way down. Maybe it’s because this- the mud, the bottom- is where it all rises from. Maybe without it, whatever rises would fly off or evaporate before you could even be with it for a moment. But when someone enters that valley with you, that mud, it somehow saves you again. At the marsh, all that mud and one old friend worked like a tenderizing mallet. Where before there had been tough fibers, hardness, and held breath, now there were mud, dirt, water, air, mess- and I felt soft and clean…..Anne Lamott

the view from here

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The gorge’s river all empty clarity, rain sweeps in,

cold breezy whispers beginning deep in the night,

and ten thousand pearls start clattering on a plate,

each one’s tic a perfect clarity piercing my bones.

I scratch my head in a dream, then get up and listen

till dawn, hearing each sound appear and disappear.

I’ve listened to rain all my life. My hair’s white now,

and I still don’t know night rain on a spring river.

…..Yang Wan-Li

writing the heart’s knowings from the lovelies to the uglies…..all is part of the quest…..the sanctuary of soul………

I used to be a seeker, looking for answers to all sorts of questions, wondering which religious tradition was right and best, concerned about the nature of the afterlife, wishing I knew exactly what Jesus was all about, hoping I would make good decisions in my life. Seeking is a good thing. Your mind and heart are open as you earnestly pursue matters of importance to us all. you’re not stuck on any given way. You’re on a journey, an odyssey, a search for truth. But now I’ve given up seeking. It could be old age, but I think it’s closer to the old adage that the questions are what is important. Rilke says, Live your questions. That’s what I’ve done. Don’t think that I’m not busy. I travel, teach, speak, and write more than ever. The peace I’m talking about is compatible with a full and active life. It’s the calm core beneath the frenetic exterior, the loss of the existential anxiety about being correct, knowing it all, living properly and not being judged badly. Recently I gave a talk in London, and I told my friend there, Chris Robertson, that people didn’t know what I was talking about and some walked out. You must have enjoyed that, he said. Yes, with a calm at the center I don’t need approval and understanding. I thrive on the eccentricity of my imagination. Outwardly, I’m conventional and boring. Inwardly, I can’t keep the wild thoughts from flowing. That’s my peace. In that wildness lies my creative and comforting stillness….Thomas Moore

the calling

The whisper calls us to let go
of who we think we are
and enter the Unknown.
…..Anne Hillman

the secret of knowing

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Savoring those positive experiences in life involves slowing down and purposefully dwelling on the effects that those events and people had on us.

Prolonging our attention to feelings and sensations connected to cherished memories, acts of kindness and loving encounters, no matter how big or small, strengthen our capacity to embed them into our psyche.

Over time, this can start to build our emotional resilience and increase our capacity to bounce back from stressful experiences. It can also have a positive impact on our general perspective of our reality.

We don’t need to rush to the next thing, but simply allow ourselves the spaciousness of enjoying and accepting the delicious gifts we’ve been given in life right now. Blessed be.

…….Gemma Summers & Shushann Movsessian

so when do we understand how these silly imperfections add to the beauty of our lives? when can we really and truly appreciate the inner workings of the heart? how do we savor this life?

You are not what you do. You are not what you don’t do.

You are not the job title. You are not a labeled societal sub group.

You are not your personality;

You are not a happy person, a depressed person or an angry person.

You are not a definition of your own qualities.

Who are you? 

You are not who your mother says you are.

You are not who your best friend says you are.

You are not your own descriptions of yourself.

Drop all the labels, titles, designations, descriptions, accomplishments and even failures.

Below the labels, beneath the layers, on the most subtle level…

What do you feel?

What is left?

What is there?

Who are you?

If you are not what you do,

If you are not what others say you are,

If you are not a set of descriptions,

Who are you?

Let’s move a little deeper.

You are not defined or confined by the limits of your physical body.

You are not the beating your heart, you are not your breath.

You are not your mind, emotions or thoughts.

If you are not all these “things”…

Who are you?

A better question may be not who are you, but what are you?

Take a deep breath into every cell of your being. As you exhale release all the labels, all the descriptors, titles, both other and self created. Bask in this space.

What are you?

Close your eyes and feel your way to it. Don’t define it, don’t put it into words, but feel it completely.

Do you feel a sense of spaciousness, of limitlessness, of infinite potential?

If you are not all or any of these things, if you can not be defined or put into words, but only felt.

What are you?

Remember who, or better yet, what you really are.

Remember your potential, remember your limitless possibility.

Remember that you can not be defined, by self or other.

Remember what you are, where you come from and why you’re here.

Remember your knowingness, your awareness, remember your truth.

What are you?

You are the awareness of all these things.

You are embedded deep within yet extend far beyond.

You are the driving force of all these things.

You are both the wave and the ocean.

You are both the dance and the dancer.

You are both the creator and the container.

You are me as I am you.

….Alexa Torontow

Finding a way to extend forgiveness to ourselves is one of our most essential tasks. Just as others have been caught in suffering, so have we. If we look honestly at our life, we can see the sorrows and pain that have led to our own wrongdoing. In this we can finally extend forgiveness to ourselves; we can hold the pain we have caused in compassion. Without such mercy, we will live our own life in exile.

…….Jack Kornfield

essentials of essence

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A Welcome Break

I was going to take a break by going on a silent retreat. But I tripped on the sidewalk and broke my arm instead. It turned out to be a very efficient way to find myself. Everything cancelled. Forced stillness. Wincing with pain. Cursing. But then, lots of time to look at fluttering leaves outside the window. Many hours to breathe. To read. To listen to music. To make lists of favorite desserts. To feel lucky. And happily, that feeling has not evaporated. The break broke a long period period of sadness. Suddenly I knew exactly what I needed to do. Inhabit the moment and take care. Does it go without saying that my compassion for everyone shot up a million-fold? Well, it did. We never know when the bad break will come, but come it will. We break. We heal. We break. We heal. And each time it happens, we can only hope that we will find our way to be better for it….Maira Kalman

remember the last time that life just stopped? when a topsy-turvy finesse leeched into life to define a new perspective? rekindled a love of sweetnesses forgotten?

Just as we open and heal the body by sensing its rhythms and touching it with a deep and kind attention, so we can open and heal other dimensions of our being. The heart and the feelings go through a similar process of healing through the offering of our attention to their rhythms, nature, and needs. Most often, opening the heart begins by opening to a lifetime’s accumulation of unacknowledged sorrow, both our personal sorrows and the universal sorrows of warfare, hunger, old age, illness, and death. At times we may experience this sorrow physically, as contractions and barriers around our heart, but more often we feel the depth of our wounds, our abandonment, our pain, as unshed tears. The Buddhists describe this as an ocean of human tears larger than the four great oceans….Jack Kornfield

to lighten our cares

Free yourself from the burden of feeling
the need to hold on to anything.
Let go… you are a part of everything.
…..Steve Maraboli

smallness grounded in wholeness

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The greatest secret of life is….

and remember it always that…

life is a gift.

….Osho

shifting focus from smallness to the mysteries of the moon, the ocean, the heart……to know our little cares and deepest and smallest nuances are held in the great wisdom and flow of wonderment…..

Continue making connections with all the good
things around, you will see that the outside world
is brighter and more beautiful than before, because
you have put an end to forgetfulness and have lit
the lamp of mindfulness. You have begun again
to be nourished by what is wonderful in life.
……Thich Nhat Hanh

learning from the heart

A dear friend and teacher of yoga died recently. At her memorial service, it was said that during her life she “made the hard decisions with a soft heart.” To me, this is the essence of faith. When we have faith in ourselves and others, we are able to make difficult decisions when necessary. But at the same time, we do not lose the compassion and softness inside that connects us to others. When I lose faith in myself or in the Universe, my decisions are more likely to make out of fear or anger. if I try to make life’s difficult decisions without connecting with my heart, I do not act in the best interests of all concerned. My faith is most apparent when I have the courage to act from my heart and the compassion to stay open. This is the ultimate expression of faith. I am reminded of another Japanese folk Zen saying:

Fish live in streams

Birds nest in trees

Human beings dwell

In warm hearts.

To keep faith, recite both Japanese folk Zen sayings in this chapter. They will help to soothe you during trying times and strengthen your resolve in lighter moments.

….Judith Lassiter

a niche in the heart

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Within the mystery of life there is the infinite darkness of the night sky lit by distant orbs of fire, the cobbled skin of an orange that releases its fragrance to our touch, the unfathomable depths of the eyes of our lover. No creation story, no religious system can fully describe or explain this richness and depth. Mystery is so ever-present that no one can know for certain what will happen one hour from now. From mystery’s vantage there is no fixed path. In truth there is no path at all, for that would be to place it into the realm of space and time. To awaken is not to fix or hold but to love whatever is here. Knowing this truth releases our hearts from grasping. The mystery that gave us birth becomes a dance…..Jack Kornfield

life as a poetic reverie of incandescent space…..in between anything worthy of definition…..allowing life to simply wash over us…..

The most surprising thing about the process of spiritual opening is how unexpected it becomes. I had studied the sacred texts for years, but I never knew what was coming next. Powerful experiences would come; new possibilities beyond my knowing and beliefs would sweep over me. I learned that experience is never how we think it will be. Understanding this is real wisdom…..a Sufi master

finding meaing

Lord, the air smells good today,

straight from the mysteries within the inner courts of God.

A grace like new clothes thrown across the garden,

free medicine for everybody.

The trees in their prayer,

the birds in praise…..Rumi