Greetings on a beautiful early summer day in central New York state.

This will be my last posting on Potentiality.

It’s been a learning journey, one I have thoroughly enjoyed. I have grown and changed and now it seems fitting to close this chapter and begin another. Please join me! You can find me, and my new blog, Songs the Sunrise Sings at:

http://kathrynwonders.wordpress.com/

Thank you for traveling this path with me! Namaste.

Kathryn

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Rumi and Crumbling

February 17, 2014

Hello! It’s been a little while!

I’ve been introspective and not feeling like making entries on this blog.

Looking out at the glistening, diamond like snow, and reading a little Rumi, brought me a little gift of personal insight. So, I thought I’d share.

“Very little grows on jagged rock.
Be ground. Be crumbled.
So wild flowers will come up
Where you are.
You have been stony for too many years.
Try something different. Surrender.”
Rumi
 

Our solid, rock-like defense system, whether jagged or smooth, helps us be “strong”. If we are strong enough we can keep things from getting to us, or breaking us apart. Familiarity is a rock too. Even when we feel we are hurt, or suffering, unhappy, lonely, the pattern of hanging on and just surviving the current emotion/drama is “safer”, for some of us, than trying something different.

Rumi reminds us to try something different. Let us take a risk and allow ourselves to be ground up ( just a little is ok, it only takes a small crack in the surface), to crumble apart just a little. Something new, and beautiful and full of hope might begin to grow—a wild flower, or….?

wild geranium

(photograph by me)
 

Sure, growing “flowers” might be unknown to us. We might have to learn something new. Face new disappointments. Solve different problems and crises. Different doesn’t mean “bad”, “wrong”, “impossible”, “not worth it”. Different means, or can mean “possibility”. We might end with a beautiful “garden”.

At this time in my life I am working consciously on allowing myself to soften, to crumble. I am ready. Some changes have come with little control from me, like my children growing up and moving away.  That was a big change that has allowed me the opportunity to open up to other changes. I have started to meditate. I do yoga twice a week. I’ve changed my diet. And I have intention. Intention of breaking out of old patterns of behaviors and expectations. I am looking and my anxieties, my fears, things that make me hesitate, my reactions, my thoughts……a long, long list.

Little pieces of me are cracking and crumbling in a good way. Sometimes it is very hard and even scary because now I am also asking other people to look at me and respond to me differently, because I am looking and them and responding to them differently. By making changes in myself, I am making changes in relationships….and that’s a pretty big risk…..what if the other person doesn’t want to change?

But I’m going for it!! I’m creeping out of old, deep ruts for health and growth. Like the title of the blog, POTENTIALITY, in me is a great potential if I can let it grow like a wildflower among the crumbled, ground up old self..

“We live at the edge of the miraculous.”
Henry Miller
sparkles
 

I live in the middle of New York state. This week of weather has been insane…mild, cold, rain, snow,wind. Right now we are dealing with flooding. The frigid temperatures have caused our creeks and streams to freeze, creating ice jams that are now melting. The result is flooding. Flooding of streets and homes.

My friend in California is already experiencing drought conditions.

Someone posted on Facebook an image of Mercury spinning. Another friend posted a photograph from one of our National Parks. The Hubble space telescope sends back pictures from the edge of the universe.

My daughter visited family in Oregon and made sweet young children laugh with joy.

My forehead looks like a sci-fi costume as I am being treated for Actinic keratosis.

I heard an owl the other night.

On Friday I made the most delicious millet cakes for dinner.

People can fly to space and walk on the moon. We live on a sphere that spins and zips round the sun. Technology has given us computers and the internet. Diseases get cured. Death comes in a blink of an eye. Birth happens every day.

We cry. We laugh. We sleep. We experience emotions. We hug. Run. Float. Climb. Dance. Sit and walk.

looking into the creek

We have the capacity to love and to hate.

Every single moment there is something miraculous happening in us, with us, to us, around us. Still we feel bored. Restless. Unhappy. Unfulfilled.

cardinal in snow

Perhaps if we stopped. And looked around and saw. If we paused to understand the things that are on the edge of miraculous that are happening every single moment of each day…maybe we would stand in awe and wonder instead of restlessness and searching. If we were quiet enough we might hear the sound of a snowflake falling, or a tree creaking in the wind. Or a cat purring. Or a baby snoring. Perhaps if we could hear our own breath and feel the beating of our heart and understand the profound significance of those things, we would sigh and experience wonder.

ponk rose

Just be quiet. This quiet does not involve talking or not talking.
It does not involve any doing whatsoever.
Just let the mind fall into Silence. This is enough.
~ Papaji ~
 

Maybe in a moment of silence today, you, I, will be able to witness the miraculous that is all around us. All the time.

(all photographs are by me, Kathryn Howlett)
 
 
 

Is our existence “fundamental”?

alanwattsquote2-omegapoint

             (from: http://nikotheorb.wordpress.com/tag/alan-watts/)

“Everybody is fundamentally the ultimate reality.”

The self…”deep down basic whatever it is, and you’re all that, although you are pretending you’re not.”

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wU0PYcCsL6o

quote6watts

(from Spirituality and Health)

There are lot of wonderful, fairly short videos on YouTube. I just “found” them and am thoroughly enjoying listening to them.

Let go of your worries and be completely clear-hearted,
like the face of a mirror that contains no images. 
~ Rumi
 

I am on a path to somewhere and the only thing I know is that I am here, now. But the moment that passed a blink ago seems to still be here and so do the events of a few days ago. The future, which hasn’t even happened yet, is also here…which is a great mystery. It feels as if the two things that are not here now, are having more impact on my thought process and physical body than what IS here now.

This is the stuff for “inquiry” for certain. But wait……certain? Is there such a thing?

I recently had two very different experiences. One was so subtle and opening….a glimpse at the mirror that contains no images. A breath of time that was an eternity. A hint of knowing that not knowing is all there is.

The other experience was like being hit by a Mack truck and dragged along for a bit of time. I still ache, mentally and physically.

Both are over and done with, but still “here.” One I want to erase and the other I want to escape into.

This moment right now I’m looking into a mirror that feels cracked and the images seem distorted.  I see myself but I am contorted and fragmented.

In a minute I’ll turn off the computer and sit and be with this. Be present with only the moment. I’ll try to “let go of my worries and be completely clear-hearted.”

stewie sleep

Prayer of Care

December 27, 2013

Having some time off for the holidays is providing the opportunity to go deeper into my yoga and meditation. I am in my 50’s so the yoga is very gentle, but none-the-less, it does provide the opportunity for some soft and sweet moments of clarity and “perfection”. Perfection is in quotes because I don’t know if there is such a thing, and yet I want to connote a special experience that is pure.

Over the years of my life I have tried to learn about Zen and Buddhism in general. Practice was sporadic at best. Not a great deal of intention or commitment on my part. In my life now, the intention for meditating has increased and the commitment has become stronger. My style of meditation does not fall under a label or a school. I have gone a couple of times to a Center in the area that focuses on Meditative Inquiry. It is a very personal, non-scripted place. There are no “teachers”. there is no ritual. There is no transmission. All there is is Presence. Mindfulness. Now. Being.

This morning I listened to a meditation by Tara Brach.

At the end of one of her meditations she suggested offering a Prayer of Care. First to ourselves, then to the greater community, the world. Not unlike the Metta Loving Kindness meditation.

The idea resonated with something deep inside of me. The first, totally instantaneous thought for saying a Prayer of Care for myself was “openness”. Openness that includes being open to the moment, the sensations, thoughts and experiences of Now. To just be.

When Tara offered the opportunity to send out at Prayer of Care to the world, the words that came to mind were gentleness and kindness. Not very original, but genuine. I started getting caught up in the “words” themselves, and had to struggle a bit to let it go. Sometimes words are not complete in expressing the feeling, but they’re what we’ve got!

In the bigger picture, and taking the definition of the words at face value, I really liked the idea of a Prayer of Care.

Care: mend, repair, cherish, treasure, assist, help, look after, protect….

Prayer: appeal, request, adjuration…

Something about using the words ‘prayer’ and ‘care’ together clicked. Care. Caring. Isn’t that something we “should” always do and hold dear to our hearts? If we don’t care, what’s left?

So, I sent my Prayer for Care to myself and out into the world.

the_hand_of_buddha

(http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/04/welcome-all/the-hand-of-buddha/)

Grateful

December 26, 2013

From the Daily Good, dailygood.org

Always be…grateful.

 

http://www.karmatube.org/videos.php?id=4460

 

Blessings.

 

It Will Pass

December 14, 2013

 
A student went to his meditation teacher and said, “My meditation is horrible! I feel so distracted,
or my legs ache, or I’m constantly falling asleep. It’s just horrible!”
“It will pass,” the teacher said matter-of-factly.
A week later, the student came back to his teacher.
“My meditation is wonderful! I feel so aware, so peaceful, so alive! It’s just wonderful!’
“It will pass,”
the teacher replied matter-of-factly.
 
 

I am not a student of Zen, but I find these short stories provocative.

We could and do put many things in a file subconsciously labeled “It will pass.” Often it may be more of a wish and hope than a fact. And we tend to carry the file around with us….never letting it go. We do not let it pass.

I teach young children and I often find myself offering snippets of advice to parents. A common thread is the joy or frustration a parent feels when their young child has “made a change in their routine.” No matter what, it is a cause for minor disruption as the family has to readjust their own schedules. Sometimes the family perceives the change as “good”, other times “difficult.”

I usually find myself offering, “Wait a bit, and it will change again.”

It will pass. Don’t hold on to it.

Our mind writes dramatic dialogue and gets stuck in one scene. The whole story is: as soon as the scene is over, it’s over. Now we are here. Just here.

It will change.

buddha dandelion

Just be here. Now.

Be with your meditation, your friend, your job, your life in the moment, for the moment. It is what it is right now. And it will pass.

 

“Winter came down to our home one night
Quietly pirouetting in on silvery-toed slippers of snow,
And we, we were children once again.”
~Bill Morgan, Jr.

It’s early December and winter has crept out of her summer hibernation. Snow fell softly last night, laying her blanket over already sleeping grasses and flowers.

This is always a reflective time of year for me. While childhood memories of summer are many, the memories of winter bring stronger emotions to the surface.

I can close my eyes and smell the pungent scent of evergreens in the church. I can see the flowers of Christmas,  the showy red and white poinsettias. Soft lights everywhere, shining and glittering like stars. The sounds of traditional and ancient music and song, stirred my heart. I remember wishing my mother wouldn’t find a parking spot for a few more minutes so I could continue to look out the car window and watch the people lightly stepping over snowbanks, and see the lights and street decorations of our little town. Shop windows held puppets, elves, princesses, nutcracker princes, polar bears and icicles. Red ribbons and bows were everywhere.

I remember that our house also was adorned for the season. The sliding glass doors in the living room became the canvas for the Nativity that my mother would paint every year. The colors of blue, green, yellow and brown blended in to the colors of living room, making me feel like the life sized Mary, Joseph and newborn Jesus were guests in our home. At night a colored spot light outside would turn pure white snow into drifts of muted red or blue.

On the ornate carved oak “buffet” was a seemingly magical gingerbread house. It was just high enough to be at eye level for me. I would look in through the windows while the subtle perfume of ginger spice transported me to an imaginary place where all houses were made of gingerbread. Every year I hoped I would see the children who lived in these sepia colored houses peek out at me through the windows.

ginger

On the mantel leaned a glitter draped Advent calender that my great aunt Mimi would send every year from Switzerland. As each cardboard Advent window was opened it revealed a wondrous scene that was like a little tease saying, “wait till you see what tomorrow’s picture will be!” The glitter would cover my hands and end up everywhere as if to say throughout the day “Don’t forget to open a new window tomorrow.”

calender

Over near the dining room was the “record player”. It was housed in a sleek console that complimented the modern Danish dining room set.

record player

I could barely reach into the console to turn it on, but I would stretch and turn that dial and watch the record begin to spin and the needle drop. Then I would sit in front of the speakers listening to vibrant voices and look at the cover of the records and drift away to places that were only reachable during December of every year. That one picture on the cover was enough to kindle my imagination through the whole length of the record.

babes little drummer boy

rudolf

My mom would usually knit sweaters and make bow ties for the “boys and men”.  I remember lots of plaid ties. Often they had little sprigs of tiny red holly berries.

bow tie

three sweater cropped

When Christmas morning finally came I would wait patiently sitting on top of a floor vent with my flannel nightgown stretched over my bent knees. The warm air would inflate my nightgown like a balloon and I felt as if I might float away. We had to wait until dad was ready with his movie camera. Then we would line up and walk into the living room to see what Santa had brought. I remember board games, new blue skis, a Thumbelina doll, Barbies, Cecil the puppet and Gumby.

cecil

gumbythumbelina

Mary and Joseph watched silently as the living room floor became a sea of wrapping paper and ribbon. The house smelled of Christmas tree. Over in the dining room the record player sang Christmas songs.

bingThen we would get all dressed up and head to church. It was always stuffed to overflowing. Perfume, pine and frankincense soaked into our wool coats and sweaters and remained with us all day. The lights were dimmed and the sanctuary sparkled. The organ player coaxed air through the pipes till it vibrated and became music. The choir sang songs that I still have memorized by heart. People in the aisles and pews reached hands and arms out to greet one another and it was hard not to feel loved by everyone.

Later in the day, turkey, stuffing, potatoes and gravy nestled in silver serving bowls and trays and we bowed our heads for grace. In the fireplace the fire crackled and warmed the room.

Memories are funny things. I’m sure my siblings have a different take on the scenes I have described. I also remember Christmases when I did not get what I wanted and the magic didn’t feel so strong. Disappointment dulled the senses. Back in the 60’s Christmas was about gifts, but with life sized Mary and Joseph as family members, limited TV and few or no Christmas specials, it felt gentler than it seems to feel now. I believed in the birth of a babe that guided the hearts of people everywhere. The season of Holy Days moved more slowly.

My own children are grown now. We are redefining what this time of year means to us now as a family. Gifts aren’t so important. Church doesn’t seem to fit. As I write this post, I am grateful for the childhood memories, and for the memories I have of my children experiencing Christmas when they were young. For me, this time of year has become more about going inward. Of finding gratitude and awareness for what we are “given” every day. Given in the love we receive from friends and family, in the softness and beauty of new fallen snow, of a sparkling star in the night sky, or a crescent moon. Given in abundance we find in the grocery stores and restaurants. Given in the service we receive from cashiers, garbage collectors, road crews, doctors, factory workers and everyone else. Given in the freedom we have to celebrate whatever is dear to our hearts in a way that has meaning to us personally. Given to us by this planet that nourishes our souls, waters and feeds our body, provides us with shelter and medicine and air that fills our lungs. Given in the potential for us to be tolerant, compassionate, hard working, contributing, empathetic, forgiving , accepting individuals. Given in looking into the eyes of our children, spouse, loved ones and knowing that is enough.

Given in the possibility that what we have is enough.

May you be content, healthy, and filled to the brim with love and gratitude.

“Winter came down to our house one night……….and we were children, once again.”

Giving Thanks

November 28, 2013

It’s the one day of the year when we are reminded to consciously be thankful. I think the observance of the first Thanksgiving is one thing, something historical, albeit controversial these days. However, I feel the concept of giving thanks on a daily basis is something different.  I try to give thanks daily. While I appreciate the time allowed to be with family and loved ones, that does not happen on a daily basis, I try to be grateful EVERY DAY!!

This morning I am sitting in the dining room of a hotel, waiting for my family to wake up. I am so full of joy and gratitude when I think about my children and my husband. When we get to be all together, I feel as if the movement of the universe has cooperated to bring me this magnificent blessing.

I was searching the internet trying to find some sweet sentiment of the day to post on FB, when I stumbled across a favorite: Tiny Buddha’s blog. http://tinybuddha.com/blog-posts/

Celestine Chua posted an entry titled: 60 Things to Be Grateful For,  http://tinybuddha.com/blog/60-things-to-be-grateful-for-in-life/  It is fantastic!

She reminds us to be thankful for:

Our Sense of Sight for it allows us to see the colors of life.

Our Sense of Hearing – For letting us hear trickle of rain, the voices of our loved ones, and the harmonious chords of music.

Our legs and lungs. Our tears and disappointments. Our happiness and sadness.

Our mistakes and heartbreak.

Our home, our beds.

Our enemies and kind strangers.

In short, she reminds us that everything is deserving of gratitude. Every day.

“Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul.” 
— Henry Ward Beecher

To paraphrase another saying circulating the internet:

Today I will count my blessings,
practice kindness,
listen to my heart,
and breathe.

If I hope to practice gratitude and thankfulness fully, I will do these things every day not just one day in November.

Celebrate giving thanks!