within the travails of sorrow & joy


Those of us who value the inner journey may, at times, forget to orient & ground ourselves in being fully here in the world. Of course, here includes the inner landscape, but it also includes the outer. Sometimes it feels as if the external world is coming at us with too many demands, distractions, and information. But the world around us can also help us open our awareness in a grounded way, particularly when our inner world may be a bit anxious or chaotic.

Try this with me now. It doesn’t matter if you are feeling sluggish or speedy, this can offer an opening into this moment in a way that does not overwhelm.

Wherever you are, look around and say to yourself (out loud if you are alone) “I see. . . . ” naming five things you see. They don’t have to be big or small, intriguing or ordinary. They don’t have to be anything at all except something you can see. You can do it at any pace you like, but don’t rush. Let your gaze be soft and wander, finding what draws the eye in this moment.

Then, name five things you hear, simply completing the phrase, “I hear. . . . .” This is followed by five things you feel in a sensory way- the temperature of the room on your skin, the feel of your feet in boots, the support of the chair beneath you. . . .

You could stop there, or you could continue- this time naming four things you can see, hear and feel. . . followed by three, and then two, and then one.

I have a deep desire to be here fully, but sometimes I need a little help with how to do this. This small exercise of observation is an effective “how.” It lowers any anxiety that may be worming its way into my day, and helps me stay here so I can fully receive the gift of this day, this moment, this life.

…..Oriah Mountain Dreamer

grounding down and then rooting up…..this is our mantra in yoga……and having a soft front and a strong back is the metaphor for this mysterious balance Oriah speaks of….to honor the inner life while walking this world…….to be open-hearted with the equanimity necessary to carry a big, whole heart……

Walking into the empty sanctuary of his synagogue, a rabbi was suddenly possessed by a wave of mystical rapture, and threw himself onto the ground before the Ark proclaiming, “Lord, I’m Nothing!”
Seeing the rabbi in such a state, the cantor felt profoundly moved by similar emotions. He too, threw himself down in front of the Ark, proclaiming, “Lord, I’m Nothing!”
Then, way in the back of the synagogue, the janitor threw himself to the ground, and he too shouted, “Lord, “I’m Nothing.”
Whereupon, the rabbi turned to the cantor and whispered, “Look who thinks he’s Nothing!”

…..a Jewish tale

People of faith should root transformative action in the spiritual disciplines of prayer, meditation, and contemplation. While traditionally such practices served as stepping stones to the realization of a transcendent goal, today we need a wider spiritual vision that can encompass the divine and the mundane, the transcendent and the immanent, in an integral whole……….Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

2 thoughts on “within the travails of sorrow & joy

  1. To ease and then begin again. I remember someone telling me that on your wedding day, you should close your eyes and then open them – taking a picture with your heart. But I’ve wondered since – why just then? Why not all the time? It becomes the anchor to now and yet the portal to possibility. From everything else, we are pulled into this divine moment. How sweet!

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