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..

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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

Being Where You Are

October 4, 2013

Still floating along after a few days in silent retreat. Processing. Thinking. Realizing I took a fork in the road slightly divergent from where I thought I was going. Now I find myself kind of recalculating like a GPS system. Where exactly am I going anyhow?

winter blue(photograph by me.)

I am going to where I am right now.

I scrolled through lots of search results: Toni Packer, Krishnamurti, meditative inquiry, mantras, Buddhism, ………I found myself reading less and less thoroughly. The words were getting muddled. My mind was doing some self talk: “yeah…I know that.”, “OK, I get that.”, “How am I supposed to do THAT?”.

I tried to translate the information. Tried to have it make sense.

And then I stopped. Just stopped. There weren’t any answers on the internet. Certainly none on Pinterest!! LOL!! Reading some books helped to clarify a few things.

Ultimately, it, whatever “it” is, has to come from me, by me, for me. And what I am trying to understand, to achieve, is how to simply be with this moment. This moment. This moment. Only this moment.

Letting the moment that just ended, pass. Allowing the moment I am anticipating ahead not be rushed into existence. How to balance that with the “life I lead.” The one with a job, children, a husband, balancing, responsibility, being tired, being cranky, being happy……

So, this subtle little fork in the road that I am now traveling upon, where will it take me? I don’t know.  Right now it has taken me to right here. That’s a good place to be.

I am aware there was something I had to do a few minutes ago, and that in another moment I will have to get up to attend to something else. I’m trying to let that past moment be done, and not give too much importance to the moment coming up. My joy now becomes to be aware of every moment of attending to that “thing.” To hopefully be able to just do it with no labeling or words.

I’m picking up this edit a few days later and wanted to quote something from Toni Packer’s book The Wonder of Presence. It’s about being present with the moment, not caught up in the drama of words, emotions, our “stories”, but being aware:

“…We have thought like that for eons and behave accordingly, but at this moment can there be just the sound of the swaying tress and the rustling leaves and fresh air from the open window on the skin? It’s not happening to anyone. It is simply present for all of us, isn’t it?”

“Why bother?” you may ask. Or perhaps you’re thinking: “I don’t get what she’s talking about.”. Or maybe “That’s just a bunch of baloney.”

Well, I’ve come to a point in my life where I want to just be in THIS moment. I’ve had a full life with a wonderful husband, amazing kids and a job I love. I’ve traveled the world. I’ve laughed and experienced great joy. I have cried and felt paralyzing pain. I’ve had the proverbial broken heart. And I’ve had the gift of a wonderful life companion. I have a house, a car, a boat, cats….bills, a bank account…..I “have” a lot.

Now, I want to experience the ‘what is’ of every moment. I want to move beyond the words that create the “story” of what I am living through. I don’t want to live “through”. I want to live in. This moment. THIS moment. I want to let go of the words that are attached to drama, desire, disappointment, anticipation, fear, doubt, anger, happiness, unhappiness, the judging, the labeling, the comparing. I don’t want to live a “story” anymore.

There are memories of things I don’t want to forget, which seems contrary to being present in this moment. I just don’t want the memories to become baggage attached this moment. I don’t want the memories to filter or influence the present.  I want the moment to be as it is. By itself.

I want to be present to this moment. This moment. This moment.

Still confused? So am I a little bit.  Toni Packer talks about this is many of her books. I have only just begun to discover her and to explore her writings. But at this moment in my life her words are intriguing. I am muddling through, trying to figure out what her words mean. Especially when she says “they are just words.”!!!

I know this isn’t a road that everyone wants to travel. I can’t say I wanted to either. But I came to that fork and I went slightly off course from I thought was the correct way. The real way. The important way. It’s just a way. There will probably be another choice at some point, another fork. But for now, I put one foot in front of the other and try to just be present with that one step.

It’s a bit of a lazy, rainy Sunday. I’m re-energizing after not feeling so well yesterday. Makes me grateful for the rain today because somehow the rain reminds me it is OK to go slowly and not worry or hurry.

I haven’t made a posting in quite awhile…there simply was nothing calling to me loud enough to make me think and share.

Today, however, while rummaging around Facebook I read something. This something made me think about another something and here I am trying to get it to come together.

The Facebook “something”:

“Some might counsel you not to let your past define you, but the events of our loss, the discrepancies in our upbringing, the deficits in our making – are what shape us uniquely. Our limitations are which give rise to the holy imagination, and regrets are the only stepping stones upon which wisdom can be reached.” –Dreamwork with Toko-pa

The other “something”:

The last Christmas my father was alive he gave a Christmas blessing based on an article in Process Theology about being what you “eat”. In hind sight this was interesting because it was the last time the entire family was together….in some measure, all of us being who we were then because of the people next to us in the same room, at the same table. We “eat” and are made to grow by the people we meet and surround ourselves with and the experiences we live.

Whether we are present enough to be aware of it, every person we meet, every word that is spoken to us or heard by us, every stumble we make, each summit we attain, the words we read, the lyrics we memorize, every single thing feeds and gives life to who we are. We are fed and molded by a smorgasbord of things outside of us.

We do, however, have some say in the matter.

transform body and mind

What has fed and molded you? As you reflect, is it the regrets and flaws that have had the most impact on you or the joyful uplifting experiences? Or both? As a result did you change something? Have you chosen to be fed something different? Figuratively, do you shop for the ingredients for life at a discount, basic food store or a farmer’s market of fresh, locally produced food? Do you fill up you bags with processed foods, natural organic food or exotic food?

Tell me, who are you. And why? What do you “eat”?

 

 

What The Hell Is Water?

June 22, 2013

Please just watch this.

http://www.christinecarter.com/community/blog/2013/06/friday-inspiration-this-is-water/

From a commencement speech.

Have a beautiful weekend.

I live a life that mostly revolves around my job. I work with preschoolers….little 3, 4 and 5 year olds. There is a daily routine, a fairly unvarying menu of social, emotional and developmental scenarios. There are the predictable dramas of someone not wanting to be friends with someone else, someone calling a 4 year old a three year old, and similar grievances.

My days are very ordinary. Predictable.

Yet, as I reflect back on the day’s events I am often amazed at how clearly, how assuredly my own perspective has a direct impact on whether my ordinary day is, well, ordinary, or whether my ordinary day is magic. It’s all me.

So now, as I go about my morning at home I give myself a pep talk. “What surprises will there be today?”. “How am I going to get so-and-so to do such and such”. “How can I make someone laugh, or light up their eyes?” We have to remember:

 “You may think that in life, a lot of things happen to you along the way.
The truth is, in life, you happen to a lot of things along the way.”
–Dr. Shad Helmstetter

Sometimes the pep talk includes reminders of traps I don’t want to fall in to. Familiar ruts that take me to the same dull places. We have to break free of established patterns of response and thinking in order for new ideas and solutions to be born. Some days I feel like I am on auto-pilot…..reacting the same way to every situation, and it doesn’t always work in life. Some days I have to make the conscious effort to turn the auto-pilot OFF.

I ask my self “Why?” or “why not?” more often. Why do I do the same thing over and over the same way? Why am I surprised when I get the same response? Is that the response I was looking for? Why not approach the same thing differently and see what happens? Why not try something outside of the box?

I give myself reminders:  pause before responding so my responses are not reactionary, but of value. Reminders that everything that happens is not a personal attack on me…on my ego. Funny to think that a 3 year old could make me feel that way….and sometimes it’s the adult co-workers!!

“How you choose to respond each moment to the movie of life determines how you see the next frame,
and the next, and eventually how you feel when the movie ends.”
–Doc Childre

Reminders to pause as to whether my response brings something to the table (necessary) , is it kind, is it truthful?

“When words are both true and kind, they can change the world.” ~ Buddha

When I am thoughtful about the choices I can make during the day, my day is “different”. When I practice patience and kindness, compassion and creativity, others respond differently too. It isn’t hard. It just takes some practice and being mindful. It requires I give up reacting, and instead respond with something thoughtful.

Ordinary days become magical. Ordinary days become extraordinary days. Ordinary days become a gift. Something to look forward to.

Ordinary-Day

Only For Today

May 24, 2013

I always look for new ideas on how to be more mindful of the present moment. Sometimes it is so very difficult to do that. There are always thoughts jumping ahead to what is scheduled next, what might happen, what will never happen.

Today I ran across a little article that was directed instead on focusing on the day today. As I thought about it, I felt that really that is what I try to do. I keep the day as a whole in my head, and as I wind my way through the hours and events, I then focus on those specific things as they are happening.

The Ten Simple Rules for Daily Living came from the website Greatfulness.org

DSCN0499

(photograph by me: Oregon coast)

Here are the thoughts, in my words:

* Only for today, I will live the day being positive and not try to solve the problems in my life in one day.

* Only for today, I will be mindful of my appearance. I will dress as if my appearance is an expression of my thoughts and values. I will not raise my voice. I will be kind and compassionate to others. I will not criticize others. I will not judge others.  I will only work on improving myself.

* Only for today, I will remind myself that I have within me the capacity to be happy. To be content.

* Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances around me without requiring that all circumstance adapt to my own wishes.

* Only for today, I will commit 10 minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering to feed my thirst for learning, knowledge and understanding.

* Only for today, I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about it.

* Only for today,  I will make a plan for myself. I might not follow it exactly, but I will do my best. I will be mindful of hastiness and indecision.

* Only for today,  I will remind myself that today is a gift.

* Only for today,  I will have no fears. Within the hours of the day I will focus on each moment.  In particular, I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness and compassion.

 

“Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world at once,
but of stretching out to mend the part of the world
that is within our reach”
 
Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

hands

Some days the world is so full of pain and sorrow I just wish there was some way to have it all righted, and have everything “fixed” and made OK. It is overwhelming.

Staying grounded and keeping things in perspective means we have to understand and accept we cannot fix the entire world. We have to find balance and reach our hand out to that which is within our reach, and slowly, with love and care, mend the broken and wounded parts that are within our grasp.

Sometimes it means starting with ourselves: making sure we are whole and healthy. Many of us resist taking care of ourselves if we perceive we can spend our energy, resources, time on someone else. Truly, for us to help others we have to be healthy and strong. Sometimes we might not even know what we need in order to take care of ourselves.

Sometimes fixing things means we have to let go. Letting go in all kinds of ways. Letting be. Leaving alone. Walking away.

Or maybe we need to sit with something. Be present and simply experience without doing or changing. And then letting it go.

Or, maybe we need to take a first step that might be hard for us….to speak up or out, to stand up.

I listen to the news sometimes and cringe. I hear parents screaming at their kids in grocery store and cringe. I listen to college kids speak jokingly in ways that are really mean, callous and misogynistic and cringe. I listen to lyrics of songs that are violent, that demean women and others and I cringe. There is no way I can change all those things.

I read of pollution. I read of deforestation. I read of rising sea levels and melting ice fields. I can’t prevent those things from happening.

My arms do not reach that far.

But, there are things within of my own grasp. My choices are within reach. My words and actions are within reach. My voice is within reach.

I am within my own reach. I can start with myself.

I can work towards reaching out, and stretching a little more to take a step towards mending what is within my reach. And with patience, someone else might try too. And the reach will be a little longer. A little more mending will happen.

Maybe we can reach out together.

(hand mandala from google images)

2013

2013 is around the corner. With it’s arrival comes the opportunity (a favorable or advantageous circumstance or combination of circumstances) for a fresh start. If you want to choose that path.

The tradition of making a New Year’s resolution is 4,000 years old! Ancient Babylonians made promises to start the New Year off on the right foot in order to earn the favor of the Gods. The “New Year” wasn’t always observed in January because a month called “January” didn’t always exist! It originally was the Spring Equinox celebration. Spring being a natural time to think of fresh starts, beginning anew. Throughout history different “leaders” have changed it from one date to another. Many religions and cultures still celebrate a different date for the New Year.

I think many of us would chuckle thinking about resolutions we have made and kept! My record isn’t very good!

However, this year it really struck me what the potential might be, if we could make changes that would provide a fresh start to parts of our lives. What if we took advantage of this quaint custom and did turn it into an opportunity?

Recent events have led many of us to reevaluate all kinds of things. Personally I found myself thinking deeply about living more in the present and letting go of past angers, disappointments, and focusing more on simply being kind.

While I still hope to “give up” a few things, I have decided to focus on “doing”.

My priority this year is to be kind. In big ways and small ways.

“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”

Dalai Lama

aesop kindness

I don’t think there is a skill to being kind. It’s in all of us. It may be buried, or other responses and actions might be stronger, but it is in us.

I have been working on kindness a little bit this year. I have had some successes, but many more surprises.  I am always surprised how quickly I respond with frustration to things beyond my control. That frustration is a form of anger. I can feel my body change when it surfaces. When my body changes because my mind changes, it all becomes a spiral of downward momentum. Then I have a difficult time getting free from it.

Hand in hand with being kind comes being present and being in the here and now, not in the past or future. And that is even harder. I carry disappointments, frustrations, worries from work home with me every day. Sometimes it takes me days to digest them and let them go. I am always thinking and planning one step ahead so I am “prepared”. How can that be bad? Being prepared? But somehow it does fuel the anxiety. If I am being kid to myself, which is the first step to be kind to others, why do I worry, become anxious over things that I have managed to take care of for years and know they are not a big deal? Is it all in the wording……the wording my mind chatter loops endlessly around in my head? Why can’t it just be: “I will stop at the grocery store.”, rather than: “I have to stop at the grocery.”  Have to, have to, have to, have to. I will focus on making statements with little or no value regarding things that are……no good or bad, no judgement. Just a fact. By adding the word “have” it becomes a chore or burden.

So I will focus on being present in this one moment. I will be kind, kinder, kindly. I will begin with myself. I will change the mind chatter in my head. I will reach out to others and simply be kind. This is a New Year, a fresh start. I have this opportunity to start over, and allow the kindness that is already inside of me be stronger and more present.

try kindness

 
“Our job is to love others without stopping
to inquire whether or not they are worthy.
That is not our business,
and in fact, it is nobody’s business.
 What we are asked to do is love,
and this love itself will render both ourselves 
and our neighbors worthy, if anything can.”
Thomas Merton

As we gather together in the soft darkness of the Solstice we are reminded there are rhythms and cycles that move without thought to us humans. As we embrace  families and friends singing out greetings of peace and Faith, let us also remember we have a calling to love one another, every single person, without stopping. There is no pausing to regard if they are worthy.

What we are asked to do is love.

There is a lot of talk and thoughts about those who have, and those who have not, those who are  deserving, and those who are not, those who are “good” and those who are “bad”, those who are “right” and those who are “wrong”. In amongst all that, it feels sometimes that we have lost the capacity to love, to accept, to help heal, to forgive and to be tolerant and have decided to walk  instead with fear, mistrust,  isolation, apathy.

What we are asked to do is love.

metta

“We do not exist for ourselves.” Thomas Merton

“The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another.” Thomas Merton

I certainly struggle with this. But, I struggle more with the thought of violence, of turning a blind eye, of pretending to know which is the one, right path.

This is the time of year when many of us turn inward. A time of reflection. Also, a time of looking forward. Many customs of the Solstice and New Year include a letting go of the past and a cleansing of the heart and spirit for the future.  While we can never be sure of the future, we can, and this moment, open up our hearts and love. It’s not our business to judge. Everyone struggles and falls. What we are asked to do is love. At this moment.

http://www.merton.org/chrono.aspx