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 are constantly invited to be who we are.”

Henry David Thoreau

Everyday, as the sun rises and we open our eyes from the fuzzy interlude of sleep, dreams and silence to find a new invitation before us: You are invited this day, to be who you are.

While there may be routine, mundane, predictable parts of the day set before you, there will also be moments of spontaneity, unpredictability and surprise. These moments of synchronistic opportunity that catch us off guard provide us this invitation to be who we are. Not who we are expected to be, predicted to be…but who we ARE. And most of us, I believe, find we are able to RISE to a level we never expected.

Perhaps though , we have to train ourselves to be aware of these opportunities…mindfulness. Perhaps we will be called to muster up some courage and will ourselves to say “I will allow myself to submit to this moment in order to come closer to being the person I am”.

I go through days that are fairly routine, and within the routines, I find myself at risk of being in a rut. If I am in a rut, I most certainly am not living up to my fullest potential…the person I AM. I am not that routine, I am not that rut. I may have to live through those moments, but when I open the invitations that are presented to me throughout the day, and have the mindfulness to take action, I have greater, longer, more frequent moments where “I” am truly “me”. And I surprise myself!!

Sometimes it is an invitation to be kind, or take a risk, or say “no”, or for that matter “yes”. Sometimes it is closing my eyes, or taking a breath, or standing up instead of sitting down. Sometimes it is something big and scary, other times small and seemingly silly. Sometimes it may mean being assertive or confident, other times humble, accepting,  or forgiving. But an invitation is an invitation. And if we don’t accept them and take action on them, they may stop coming. And then we may be alone with our routine, mundane, rut living self, rather than OUR SELF.

So, when your invitation arrives today, open it right away! Accept the invite and explore who you truly are!

The Delights of Life

September 23, 2012

I was going to call this entry “joy is in the journey”, but the word “delight” got the better of me!

Every day we get up. Sometimes refreshed, sometimes not so much. Maybe we tossed and turned with restless thoughts or are clinging to the dream of chocolate waterfalls and trying really hard not to open our eyes. Perhaps the sun shining through the window in the morning warms our body and makes the world seem soft and perfect. Maybe the pitter patter of rain makes us frown. That nagging worry from the day before may have already taken over every thought even before we can get a cup of coffee…..our mental list of everything that has to be done today gets longer with every waking moment…….we know all these scenarios.

I suggest that these could be labeled the ‘delights of life”. Why? Because they mean we are alive.

I have no magical ability to weather with grace or patience, the ups and downs that create my days. I get frustrated. I cry. I laugh. I feel dread and anxiety. I experience giddiness and anticipation. And as I age, ( like a fine wine, versus “grow older” like rotting. Could have said ‘mature’ but wasn’t in the mood.), I notice that when I try to embrace everything, I am surprised to discover that I can begin to see them as delights in my life. Even if they make me grumble or bitter. I find my mind chatter chortling “it will be OK”, “there is a reason for this, just let things play out”, “This seems really unpleasant, but you will get through it”, etc. And after the fact there is usually an internal or external smile or smirk: a sense of ” I got through that”.  And it is a delight because I always see things differently afterwards.

We are who we are because of the experiences we have gone through, because of the road we have traveled. There have been times I did not like who I was at some specific moment. There were roads I did not want to be on, and experiences that brought great pain and sorrow. I have a co-worker or two who tosses me a curve ball every day. They are delights in my life. (although I often do need to be reminded of this)

All those uncomfortable, unpleasant, people and things. Along with the love of my family, the gift and beauty of my children, the ache in my hip, the bad meal at a restaurant……the sun shining, the snow fall, the frustration with world news…..delights. Because I am here. Because I have emotions and choices, the ability to do things for others, the opportunity to advance positive change, to learn and to grow.

I asked my facebook friends to share some of their delights. There was a lot of family, friends, sunshine, time to oneself, things in nature. One said a clean house, someone said scarves, and one said when her child is well fed. It’s different for all of us. The delights of life are all around us, don’t you agree?

http://www.quotesea.com/quotes/with/delight

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)

Familiar with The Society Of Friends? The Quakers? They have in their history a beautiful “dance” song called Simple Gifts. You may know it from Copeland’s Appalachian Spring, or from Obama’s inauguration when YoYo Ma and others played Aire and Simple Gifts. The music is breath-taking. The words speak of ideals few us might ever even consider: “to bow and to bend”, “tis a gift to be simple”, “to come down where we ought to be”. Words of humility.

How do these words have the power to influence our potentiality? The words remind us of what is important, no matter the time we live in, our social status or anything else. If we remember we are a part of something bigger, or that there is something bigger than us as an individual, we can be at ease with humility (to bow) , to turn and be able to compromise, to be grateful, to bend and seek simplicity rather than complexity. We can be free from self-importance, wanting, desiring, wishing for…..and find satisfaction with the moment.  We can “come down to where we’re meant to be”, and realize that for most of us, especially if you are reading this, our lives are OK.  “And when you find yourself in a place just right, you will be in the valley of love and delight”: when you look around and start saying “thank-you”, “I am thankful for ….”, “I love you”, “I forgive you”, “I am sorry”, you will be in a place of gratitude. “When true simplicity is gained, to bow and to bend, we will not be ashamed”: Tagore said,

“Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution.”

We don’t always have to be strong, right, domineering, forceful, insistent, in control….

“To turn and to turn will be our delight till by turning and turning we come round right”. Dance. In gratitude, in peace and with peace, with others, by yourself. Dance because you are a part of Something that will work with you to discover your potential. Turn to face the light, the possibilities…when True Simplicity is gained life can change.

Jon Kabat-Zinn’s definition of mindfulness:
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way;
On purpose,
in the present moment, and
nonjudgmentally.”

There are some words in the above quote that many of us have a hard time wrapping our heads around: mindfulness, paying attention, present moment, nonjudgmentally. I know I do. Put them in a sentence together and some days it sounds like a foreign language.

Thich Nhat Hanh helps us to understand the importance of practicing mindfulness. So many of us are caught up in worries about the future, regrets about the past, that the present slips past with us hardly acknowledging it let alone living it. “Mindfulness increases concentration and allows to see things more deeply and stop being victims of wrong perception.”

What about those of us who live to wallow in the past and re-live regrets over and over? What about those of us who are drawn into fantasy (wealth, house beautiful, body type, beauty, image, ego, etc)?  What if we just don’t care about mindfulness?

TNH goes further saying if our body is not united with our mind, we are not really “alive”. Our body and our mind have to be truly present, together, in order to reap the experience of Life. Mindfulness helps us become alive. Concentration develops and we learn how to see things more clearly, creating less suffering for ourselves and others.

TNH says that in practicing mindfulness “We will create less suffering for ourselves and for other people. We will begin to taste the joy of living and help others to enjoy their daily lives. We cannot force people to practice mindfulness, but if we practice and become happy, we can inspire others to practice.”

Do we have a responsibility to live up to our own potential happiness and to practice mindfulness, not only for ourselves, but  for others?

Want to start?  “Following Your Breath”, by Thich Nhat Hanh:

Breathing in, I calm my body.

Breathing out, I smile.

Dwelling in the present moment,

I know this is a wonderful moment!

Breathing in, I know I’m breathing in.

Breathing out, I know as the in-breath grows deep,

the out-breath grows slow.

Breathing in makes my calm.

Breathing out brings me ease.

With the in-breath, I smile.

With the out-breath, I release.

Breathing in, there is only the present moment.

Breathing out, it is a wonderful moment.