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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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.

 

A Walk

October 20, 2013

I love fall. Hands down, it is my favorite season. There is something about the colors, the light, the wind, the smell of the air, the sounds…..all of it.

The other day I took a walk. I tried so very hard to be present with each step. To hear the sounds of the leaves crunching. To smell the decay of the fallen apples. To see what was scurrying in the under brush. To see the bird that was singing. It was so difficult.

And yet, as I passed others enjoying a walk, I realized I was probably more aware of the moment than they were. So many were talking on their cells phones, or listening to music with headphones. Runners were focused on running. Dog walkers were focused on dogs.

It became apparent that no one noticed there were at least 4 different kinds of nuts crunching underfoot. Was anyone noticing the herds of chipmunks running here and there with their cheeks full of the bounty of fallen nuts?

pinecone

(photo by me)

I heard the Red Tailed Hawks before I saw them. A pair. They lighted on a branch and seemed to have a conversation. Someone came walking by and I made an effort to be obviously looking at something beautiful…..they did not look up to see what I was watching.

The trail runs along a creek. I noticed a bobbing branch that somehow looked out of place. I stopped and realized it was a Blue Heron fishing for yummies. Again I stopped and watched. Again someone came by, oblivious to me and the display of beauty just in front of me.

heron3

(Photo by me)

Today I walked the same path. I passed a lady coming out while I was on my way in. She looked at me and smiled. Later we caught up with each other coming back. I said “Hello again”. It was like I had opened a door. “Have you noticed how beautiful the sumac is?” she inquired. Yes, I had. “And the chipmunks are loving the hickory nuts!” YES!!! Finally she said, “Sometimes I just stand and watch the Blue Heron in the creek. He is so majestic.” I nodded. She said “Enjoy your walk.” I said “Thank-you”. She looked at me and smiled. “Thank you for seeing all these things.”, I added. She smiled again and said “Thank you for seeing them too.”

What do we miss every day?

What do you see? Hear? Feel? Experience?

 

The Yellow Brick Road

September 1, 2013

I read an article ( http://zencomprehensible.com/zen-on-the-yellow-brick-road/ ) about “the Yellow Brick Road” from The Wizard of Oz. It doesn’t take much for my mind to go off on a tangent. This time however, I don’t think I have strayed too far.

Many of us remember The Wizard of Oz with joy or with a pinch of uneasiness. Those Flying Monkeys have haunted some of us for quite a while. They personified a kind of fear. Watch out or the flying monkey will get you!!

The Wizard of Oz is chalk full of imagery, symbolism, meaning. The author L.Frank Baum was a Theosophist.( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theosophy ) Theosophical symbolism is everywhere in this story.

So here are my thoughts.

The first article reminds us we are all on a road of some kind. When we are walking towards our fears and uncertainties we always come upon obstacles, road blocks. Along the way we pick up things that provide us support–things or people who encourage us to keep going, to not give up. Sometimes we have to face, head on, our deepest fears to get to the truth behind the curtain. And the truth that is ultimately always within us. Glinda tells Dorothy, “You’ve always had the power to go home.” Sometimes we just aren’t aware of, or don’t trust in what is right in front of us.

Does Kansas represent for Dorothy, for us, our physical world as it is right now? The place where we are materially and spiritually? One day Dorothy sings:

“Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.

Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far
Behind me.
Where troubles melt like lemon drops,”

Is she searching for something? Is she ready to begin a spiritual journey?

Then, WHAM! Something drastic happens, a tornado of twirling energy (karma?), flashing bits of her life in front of her. This twisting, powerful force that lurches Dorothy forward—–distancing her from all that is familiar, comforting, predictable. She finds herself looking around in wonder at a new and breath-taking world and while exhaling announces “Toto, I have a feeling we are not in Kansas anymore.”

dorothy dreams

(google images)

Remember the slippers? Originally the Ruby Red Slippers were supposed to be silver. In some schools of thought, the idea of a “silver thread” represents the connection between the physical and the spiritual. The shoes were changed to red because they showed up better on the film.

Once Dorothy has the magic shoes she is led to the Yellow Brick Road. In Buddhism, the road to Enlightenment is call the “Golden Path”.  And how does the yellow Brick Road begin? In a spiral, yet another symbol of the evolving self. Aren’t there times when we feel we are caught in a spiral of some kind: “Spiraling out of control”, “caught in a downward spiral”, “spiraling upwards”?

begin yellow brick road

(google images)

On her journey Dorothy encounters soon to be friends and companions who are seeking “a brain”/wisdom, “courage”, “a heart”/purity/love. All the qualities for a successful spiritual awakening. Who else does Dorothy talk to? Toto. Toto is Dorothy’s inner voice, the one who sees things for who and what they really are (thinking ahead to pulling back the curtain and revealing “Oz” for what he really is.)

Surmounting obstacles and challenges, Dorothy makes it to Oz. The Great and Powerful Oz may represent our spiritual/religious beliefs. The authority that tells us how to be “worthy”. She is given a “task”, get the broom stick from the Wicked Witch of the East. This accomplished Dorothy now returns to claim her rewards: to return home for herself, a brain for the Scarecrow, courage for the Lion and a heart for the Tin Man. Sadly, she learns the “Great and Powerful Oz” is not so great or so powerful. (What does this say about organized religion?) The Wizard, now a professor, bestows wisdom, courage and love/purity to Dorothy’s three companions while revealing they always possessed the traits and had only to believe in them. For Dorothy, getting home would require trusting Oz, now a mere man, and embarking on the trip home in “a hot air” balloon. At the last minute, Toto, her intuitive self, runs away forcing Dorothy to follow. She misses the launch and is left behind. Glinda swoops in and lovingly tells Dorothy she herself has the power to go home, and she has always had it. All she needs to do is close her eyes and say the magic words.

Back in Kansas, Dorothy has a hard time getting her loved ones to believe she was really in another “place”, but now, seemingly more at peace with herself, and perhaps better balanced between the physical and spiritual, she is comforted by understanding “the is no place like home”

path

(google images)

We are all on a journey of some kind. For some of us it is a journey of healing or forgiving. For other it is spiritual. We all come from different backgrounds and experiences. We all have different names for what we are searching for. Whether we know it or not, we are all on The Yellow Brick Road. In some way or another we want to know what is behind the curtain. To face and overcome our fears. To know what is the truth/real. And for many of us we will come to see that we already possess great strength and wisdom in ourselves. We only have to come to this understanding.

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

 

 

Cenotes Into Ourselves

August 18, 2013

Warning!! This post might be a stretch!!

A little while ago I wrote about ecotones. “Ecotone” means a  transition area between two biomes. An ecotone is where two communities meet and integrate. I tried to relate it to our personal experiences in life and self discovery.

Today we move onto “cenotes”!! A cenote is  is a natural phenomenon, a sinkhole in the Earth’s surface.  Found in Mexico and the Caribbean, a cetone is primarily made up of porous limestone. Over millions of years, rainfall slowly eats away at the limestone and a huge system of underground caves and caverns is formed. Many are filled with water from rain or from the underground water table. When the roof of a water filled cave collapses, a cenote is born. The water found in a cenote may be fresh water, salt water, or both. Structurally it may be completely open, like a lake, almost completely closed with just a small opening at the top, or somewhere in between.

In the Mayan language “ts’onot” means sacred well. Cenotes were the main source of fresh water for the ancient Mayan civilization. Mayans believed the cenotes contained curative elements and considered many of them to be sacred. They also believed cenotes to be portals to the spirit world and a way to communicate with the gods. Some cenotes were the site of Mayan sacrifices.

cenotes google images

(google images)

Now we have the definition and history. Here comes my twist.

For those of us on a quest of some sort, to find our “true” self, to quiet the ego, to discover what is hidden within us, we often find ourselves slowly peeling away layers of our outward self to find our inner self. Not unlike the the rain slowly dissolving the limestone. Our “rain” comes in many forms: religion, meditation, service…..Our limestone is apathy, doubt, ego, mis-information, immaturity, not being ready, ignorance, selfishness…..

But once something has worn away enough of our personal limestone, a shift begins…….we find ways to energize and speed the dissolving process along. We are ready for the breakthough. Ready for the bottom to fall out, to open the barrier to the cenote.  A place the Mayan’s believed to be curative, sacred and a portal to communicating with the gods.

Whatever journey you are on, is it so different? Are you not slowly melting away the layers of ego to discover something deep inside of you? A place, a state of being where you can discover the “sacred”, the true “self”, inside of you?

Once a cenote is born the fresh water falls, joining a vast underground system of rivers and caves. Areas of haloclines form: where fresh water and salt water meet creating eerie pools of mystical waters. Waters flow along underground rivers and hundreds of miles later, they exit the underworld and join with the ocean……they mingle with the salt water and become something new and different. A smaller part becomes a part of something bigger as it also changes from fresh water to salt water……

So as you travel along your path to self discovery maybe the imagine of the cenote will be like a lantern guiding you along.

 

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.

 

“Remember. Be Here Now”

Ram Dass

be here now image

 
Making the conscious choice to live in the present begins with a certain ability to stay present and mindful of THIS moment.  So much of life today is bound up with hanging on to the past or thinking/ worrying about the future. “Did I do a good job?”, “Did they like me?”, ” What should I do this weekend?”, “I want a new car.”, “I wish I was still on vacation.”, “I’m not ready for this meeting.”, “I have soooo much to do. I’ll never get it done.”
If you ask yourself what is preventing you from having a peaceful day, how many reasons are there in your head….things you have given power to? How many things are labeled in your head as “good” or “bad”, “right” or wrong”? How many things are you wishing were different? How many things are you feeling are not good enough?
How do you get your thoughts to just be present in this one moment so that there is less worry, stress, fear, anxiety? How does one learn to “Be here now”?
 
 Look at your feet. They are in the present. Not the past or future. Where your feet are, is where you are. Now. 
feet
 
Just BE where you are now with no judgement or labeling. No resentment or anxiety. Let all that stuff go. Just take a breath and be. Let everything stop for a moment. Close your eyes. Count your breaths.  If you’re walking, let your feet kiss the earth. 
 
walk kissing earth
 
Whatever you are doing, just do IT. Just be with it. Just look at your feet. Be where they are. Be here now.
 
 
 

“One day the sun admitted
I am just a shadow.
I wish I could show you
The infinite incandescence
That has cast my brilliant image!
I wish I could show you,
When you are lonely or in darkness,
The Astonishing Light
Of your own Being!”
Hafiz

“Namaste” is a word derived from Sanskrit meaning “I bow to you”.  Now a days we seem to tranlate the meaning as “the light in me honors the light in you.”

And there it is again: the light in you. “The astonishing light of your own being”.

Sometimes it is hard for us to see, feel, understand or acknowledge our own light that shines deep within us. When we are feeling alone, lost, sad, confused, this light may seem to fade. It really hasn’t faded….our vision is only clouded a little.

When the greeting “Namaste” is given to another,  the hands are together over the heart, and the body bends or bows in respect to the one receiving the greeting. It is a very humbling salutation and motion. In our current society, we really do not ever do this…bow to someone. It is a very simple action that holds great power and possibility. It creates a chain reaction that, for a moment, reminds us that this other person in front of us is of importance and value.

I think we also need to consider bowing to ourselves as a means of reminding ourselves that this “astonishing light within us”, as Hafiz calls it, is of extraordinary brilliance and beauty.  And even the Sun, were it able to speak, would say “I am but a shadow cast by your brilliance”.

Honor the light within others and within yourself today.

Namaste.