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..

One Quiet Morning

November 9, 2013

“We look before and after,
And pine for what is not:
Our sincerest laughter
With some pain is fraught;
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.”

– from “To a Skylark” by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Last Saturday in the wee hours of the morning I received a text that my cousin had passed away. Honestly, my first reaction was a sense of peace. He had been suffering for 15 years from the effects of cancer treatment. Then I felt the grief of his family—the loss of a husband, a father, a brother, a grandfather. Then I felt the loss of his friends: long time friends, new friends, even those who would never know him.

And then, as tears washed my cheeks I began to think back to a time in our lives when things were magical and innocent. Michael and I were close in age. He was a little older. He had huge brown eyes, thick auburn hair and a smile that outshone the sun. His heart was huge, his kindness and gentleness were effortless.

Some of you may know I often use Gratefulness.org as a source for quotes and information. This morning I found this:

“Even if an experience crushes you, can it not serve as a wine press that releases an unexpected sweetness? Is there some way in which it allows you to reclaim a part of yourself that you’d forgotten? Did it release courage, compassion, a deeper awareness of what matters? Ponder each of these qualities and see if you can find them in your own experience: courage (take a moment for this); compassion (for whom?); a deeper awareness (of what?). And can you name other sweetnesses that can flow out of the grief that crushes you? Pay attention to the faintest taste of sweetness.” (from Gratefulness.org)

And that is what happened to me that morning, and the following week and today. A sadness that seemed to cover me like a soft blanket, yet an awareness of a sense of sweetness. The sweetness Michael brought to my life.

My memories of Michael and I during childhood are full of vibrant emotions and color. Movement and energy. Laughter and tears. Joy and total frustration.

We would spend weeks at our grandmother’s house in what was then rural Ohio. Her house nestled in a quiet corner of land that bordered the Olentangy River. The river at her house was more of a stream, but nonetheless it was a child’s delight. We would run down the softly banked lawn to the slender trees that signaled the river’s edge. The water slipped over rocks and made small, bubbly rapids that sang the song of a child’s freedom and joy. We played for hours in the river. Was there ever any more fun than collecting sticks for no reason? Throwing rocks at nothing just to hear the “plunk” and watch the ripples? Talk wasn’t even required because we could read each other’s mind.

My grandmother never “called” us in. We would play and explore and just be kids until we went back up to the house. If we had fish in hand we were usually sent back outside. If we were wet and muddy we were dried off and warmed up. At night we slept in cherry wood beds with sheets and blankets that smelled like lavender. When the morning sun woke up, so did we and we started all over again.

As we began to grow up, we still could be found together: climbing behind waterfalls in the many gorges of Ithaca, skiing in the crisp white of winter, sailing on the Finger Lakes, swimming in the chilly waters of Cayuga Lake.

And then, adult life happened and we drifted a bit. We married, raised children and put aside the companionship, but never the love. At my uncle’s (Micheal’s dad) birthday, when Michael was in a very painful part of his  recovery and had little strength and energy, my aunt wanted to take a picture of the two of us “because we had always loved each other so much”. I remember those words because, for some reason I didn’t think anyone else knew that……

Michael’s passing is like a press squeezing sweetness from my memory. A  kind of nectar that tastes of joy, and laughter and love, freedom and companionship, innocence and lightness. It does help to reclaim that inner magic that was childhood. It helps remind me to make time and space for those things again.

Thank you for letting me share this.

The Shadow

August 25, 2013

shadow
I ran into Shadow quite unexpectedly the other day….and you know the rest of the story: I got to thinking.

Carl Jung came up with the idea of archetypes years ago. In college it was considered cool to know about Jungian psychology and try to piece together the puzzle of our personal archetypes.

First things first: I am not trained in any of this. I just think about it, and write my thoughts down.

Jungian Archetypes explained courtesy of Wikipedia:

” Carl Gustav Jung was a psychiatrist and psychotherapist who developed an understanding of archetypes as universal, archaic patterns and images that derive from the collective unconscious and are the psychic counterpart of instinct. They are autonomous and hidden forms which are transformed once they enter consciousness and are given particular expression by individuals and their cultures. Being unconscious, the existence of archetypes can only be deduced indirectly by examining behavior, images, art, myths, religions, or dreams. They are inherited potentials which are actualized when they enter consciousness as images or manifest in behavior on interaction with the outside world.”

Jung defined twelve primary types that symbolize basic human motivations. Each type has its own set of values, meanings and personality traits. The twelve types are found in four basic groups: The Shadow, The Anima, The Animus, and The Self.

http://changingminds.org/explanations/identity/jung_archetypes.htm

Today I’m bringing Shadow out into the light.

The Shadow refers to the whole of unconscious—everything that we are unaware of, the aspect of our personality that does not recognize itself. All those parts of ourselves that we feel are negative, undesirable and that we try to ignore or reject, are wrapped up in Shadow’s cloak. Almost overlooked however, are the good qualities hiding there too. They become weakened by low self esteem, self doubt. They too are lost in the folds of Shadow.

The Jungian shadow often refers to all that lies outside the light of consciousness, and may be positive or negative. “Everyone carries a shadow,” Jung wrote, “and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.” It may be (in part) one’s link to more primitive instincts.”

(*What are our primitive instincts? To survive?…how do we protect ourselves by empowering one aspect while perhaps closing off or ignoring another? What other of these primitive instincts can you identify with?)

Shadow likes to project. Shadow is instinctive and irrational. “Shadow uses projection to turn a personal inferiority into a perceived moral deficiency in someone else. If we allow Shadow to project these thoughts unrecognized and unchecked, then Shadow has a free hand to possibly bring about a “realization of its object” and give this situation character power…..it creates a thick fog of illusion between the EGO and the real world…” You/we give power to something that is a projection and is not real.  (Wikipedia)

As a Jungian Archetype, Shadow is made up of life instincts. “The shadow exists as part of the unconscious mind and is composed of repressed ideas, weaknesses, desires, instincts and shortcomings. This archetype is often described as the darker side of the psyche, representing wildness, chaos and the unknown. These latent dispositions are present in all of us, Jung believed, although people sometimes deny this element of their own psyche and instead project it onto others.”

Sometimes Shadow makes itself known in our dreams. Shadow may appear as a snake, a monster, or other dark or wild figure.

From Robert Augustus Masters, PhD:

Shadow is whatever in us we are disconnected from or out of touch with, whatever we have disowned in ourselves, whatever we have not illuminated or will not illuminate in ourselves, whatever in us we are keeping out of sight.

So our shadow is that zone of us which houses what we have not faced or can’t/ won’t face about ourselves. To the extent that our conditioning (especially that originating in our childhood) is allowed to run us, it is our shadow. Or put another way, to the extent that our conditioning is kept in the dark, it is our shadow.

If we are to truly evolve, we need to know our shadow, and know it very well; if we don’t, our shadow will direct our lives on every level.

So what can we do to bring Shadow out from the dark? How do we get to know Shadow?

First you have to recognize Shadow, and this hard. What is it in others you dislike? Is that Shadow projecting something about you onto another? What are your self doubts, fears?

How can you identify core wounds and heal them?

Are you able to work effectively with your feelings of anger, shame, fear, and guilt?

Are you able to step back and pause in order to see how your Shadow affects those around you.

Are you able to “be one with your pain” and ease your hurt and suffering by doing so?

Can you effectively stop the mind chatter that is the loudest critic of you?

Do you have a spiritual base? Anything? Organized religion or not?

For some meditation or guided practices may help.

Shadow, the part of us we cannot “see” is often the part of us that makes the decisions. And sometimes within those decisions, Shadow makes the same mistakes over and over again. We have to reclaim Shadow and understand Shadow.

Obviously, if this speaks to you, it is not a quick fix. Shadow holds the reigns on a large reservoir of energy. Somehow we have to tap into this.

Curious? The link below has some interesting thoughts. I’m not endorsing him, just introducing an idea to you. I have not read or listened to this person’s work other than this podcast.

http://learni.st/learnings/206576-robert-augustus-masters-what-is-the-shadow-sounds-true-podcast

“The big step is to turn towards what we are running away from” Robert Masters

 

 

Sailing

August 4, 2013

sail

I am lucky. I live in the heart of the Finger Lakes in New York state. An area rich in Native American history and spirituality.

The lakes were formed more than 550 million year ago during the Pleistocene Ice Age. Glaciers crept through the area from north to south, and carved deep sliced into the land. The ice pushed the land and rocks south. Gradually the ice melted and the glaciers receded, leaving shale valleys of water, which are now the Finger Lakes.

When you are on Cayuga Lake, you feel smaller. It is hard to feel important, Although the lake is not large, it is deep and the color somehow reflects that.

water

The Iroquois Indians call this part of New York home. The Cayuga and Onondaga tribes specifically called Cayuga Lake home.

When I am aware of my surroundings, especially when I travel, I find myself wondering about the people who lived in the area before it was easy to live there…before grocery stores, or Home Depot. Before snow plows or electricity. I wonder about the first people to live in the area, about the first “settlers” who came over a hill and saw something so beautiful that they decided to stop and make a home. I wonder about the discord that happened between people that caused fighting or forced people to move.

And, I often think about how people, before science opened up our understanding of “things”, made sense of what they saw, heard, felt.

The Finger Lakes are called the Finger Lakes because of a Iroquois legend that says the lakes were formed when the great Spirit laid his hands on the land to bless it. His fingers left imprints that filled with water, hence the name “Finger Lakes.”

“It is said that the Finger Lakes were made by the impression of the hand of the Great Spirit on central New York State. However there are six major Finger Lakes. West to east they are; Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca, Cayuga, Owasco and Skaneateles. As told in Iroquois legend, the Great God Manitou wanted to reward the Iroquois Confederacy for their courage in battle and their devotion to the Great Spirit. He decided to bring part of their happy hunting ground down from the heavens.

According to the legend, there are six Finger Lakes because the hand of Manitou slipped when he was pushing the portion of Indian Paradise down from the heavens, causing six indentations that later became the lakes.” Excerpt from Legends and Stories of the Finger Lakes Region by Emerson Klees  

250px-New_York's_Finger_Lakes

Could there be anything more profound than to believe your “world” was created for you by God? If you knew nothing of glaciers and geology how else could these lakes be explained? And again, the lakes reminded people, you are not as big and important as you think…..there is something bigger than you: the lakes. And if you believe in God, God.

I love living in this area. I love sailing. It is something that melds the body with nature and heals the heart and soul. It makes you stop and feel your body in relation to the wind and water. It makes you find physical balance as the water moves you in ways you can not control as the boat rocks and heels. It makes you understand the power of wind—as you feel it on your face, as you feel it move the boat. It is rhythmic and quiet. It is like a dance. As your body is rocked in the boat and cradled in the water something inside is awakened and nurtured. As a small “speck” on the water you understand you are not so important and it is a good feeling. It releases you from something. And in the wind and waves, on a small boat, in the sun surrounded by not very much, there is inner calm that reminds you to allow yourself to simply “be” without worry or hurry. Life is not about jobs and responsibilities, errands or appointments. It is not about cleaning or folding laundry. Or driving a nice car or being isolated in a large house. It is not about the internet or reality TV shows. It is about shedding all of that and knowing, when all that is stripped away, who you are.

 

Perfect

May 20, 2013

I am in my mid 50’s. I need to loose some weight. My hair is gray. There are some wrinkles on my face. Freckles have changed into age spots. I move more slowly than I used to. I wear glasses to read.

At 50 I took up Svaroopa yoga and it has breathed a new life into me. I embrace myself. Even when I look in the mirror and do not see the person I see myself as….25 years younger, flawless skin, light reddish hair……inside I am that person.

Today I did a 3 hour yoga class. As always, the class begins and ends with shavasana (the Corpse Pose) and a guided mindfulness meditation. I have moments where I experience what some people call the” zen-like mind”. No thoughts. Just a blank silence.

shavasana(from Google images)

Today when my teacher began the end of the class shavasana, she said what she says every time: ” As you settle into shavasana notice how your body feels.”

I momentarily held my breath as I heard my inner voice answer, “Perfect”.

That is a word I never associated with yoga. Or with myself. But there it was. Perfect. And that IS how I felt. In every sense. The whole moment. My whole being. My thoughts or lack of thoughts. The silence and the mind chatter. The muscle twitching.

perfect

It made me think of the mantra I sometimes use: So Hum. It means “I am that” or “I am this”. And that is what that “perfect” meant: “I am this”. Nothing more. Nothing less. Just this.

It was a lovely moment. A lovely place to be. Just this. And it was complete in itself. I was complete in myself.

 

 

“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)

The Peace Of Wild Things

November 23, 2012

The Peace of Wild Things

Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
I think of this poem when I feel overwhelmed by some thing……it encompasses so many images that have the ability to bring me calmly to the last line:
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
I find myself wondering how I can do this more often through each and every day. How do I remember to “simply” rest in the grace of the world?
The world we live in today is rife with stories of pain, suffering, war, anger, despair, fear. Daily life often includes deadlines, clocks, appointments, responsibility, worry,  juggling, compromising……there is a cloud that sometimes seems to prevent us from seeing the good, the magical, the mystical, the beauty, the hope and the possibilities that also surrounds us.
We escape into the world of movies, computers, video games, cell phones…….
Out “there”, out the door, down the path, near the lake, on a mountain, under a waterfall….that’s where our healing can take place: come into the peace of wild things.
Don’t forget the “wild things”. Don’t ignore the still waters. Seek them out. Remind yourself what it is to feel free and rest in the grace of the world.
http://www.wendellberrybooks.com/author.html

The Welcoming Prayer

May 25, 2012

 

The Welcoming Prayer

Welcome, welcome, welcome.
I welcome everything that comes to me today
because I know it’s for my healing.
I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons,
situations, and conditions.
I let go of my desire for power and control.
I let go of my desire for affection, esteem,
approval and pleasure.
I let go of my desire for survival and security.
I let go of my desire to change any situation,
condition, person or myself.
I open to the love and presence of God and
God’s action within. Amen.

(by Father Thomas Keating)

What would our days be like, if when we opened our eyes every morning, we took a deep cleansing breath and said:

“Welcome, welcome, welcome. I welcome everything

that comes to me today

because I know it is for my healing.”

Those are life altering words: to see every thing that comes to us every day as a means of our own “healing”. Okay, sure: the good things, the joyful happy things….but, what about the pain, the sorrow, the disappointment, loss, failure…..healing?

 “I let go of my desire to change any situation, condition, person or myself.” 

If we can let go of our desire for power and control, let go of our desire for affection, esteem, approval and pleasure.  Let go of our desire for survival and security…..what are we left with? 

We are left with the moment. The here and now. The experience.  As Bodhidarma (coming soon in a new blog post) taught:  keep a steady mind, one that is not swayed by circumstances. A mind open to God, or Spirit or Buddha-Mind, whatever name you give it, whatever belief you have.  

By greeting each and every new day with “welcome, welcome, welcome…”, we are telling our own Potential to open every door today and welcome everything that comes to us through those doors because those things are for our healing, our strengthening.  Without opening the doors we miss possibilities. And possibilities strengthen our potential. Open the morning door wide and shout, “WELCOME , WELCOME, WELCOME!”

A little background information on Father Thomas Keating:

Father Keating is aTrappist monk (Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance) and priest, known as one of architects of the Centering Prayer, a contemporary method of contemplative prayer, that emerged from St. Joseph’s Abbey, Spencer, Massachusetts, in 1975. He was born in New York City, and attended Deerfield Academy, Yale University, and Fordham University, graduating in December 1943. He is a founder of the Centering Prayer movement and of Contemplative Outreach, Ltd. (Wikipedia)