Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Buddhism and the Art of Breaking Up.

"Simply touching a difficult memory with some slight willingness to heal begins to soften the holding and tension around it." ― Stephen Levine 

There must be something in the air these days. Some sort of much bigger ‘cosmic change.’ A transition to higher consciousness, perchance?

I suppose you’re wondering what it is that I am prattling on about? It’s just that, over the course of the last several weeks…everyone in my world seems to be ‘breaking up.’

Why, each day I am met with tear-stained messages – from friends desperately seeking some level of divine insight, and perhaps a little relief from their pain.

But, the truth is…there is no Buddhist ‘magic bullet.’

Most people don’t like hearing this. They want a quick fix, a spiritual analgesic of sorts…a ‘hurry up and let’s move on’ kind of pill. Sadly, our society has become so accustomed to speed – that we often fail to give ourselves the time and space to heal.

The bottom line, my dears, is that the only real way ‘out’ is ‘through.’

And, just how do we do that, you might ask? The getting through part?

Here’s just a few tips, I have collected through the years.

1. Treat yourself with honest gentleness.

Look, I don’t care what the books say on this topic – breakups are grueling, even for the most grounded of hippie Buddhists, like myself.

When we open our heart, we reveal all of our our bumps and bruises…our insecurities and deepest doubts…the weird things we do in the middle of the night. Oh, and the good stuff, too…my dears, that’s in their, too.

And then, the person we loved most in this world – seemingly and most simply just walks away.
I have been there, my dears… curled up in the farthest corner of the floor, wondering why and wishing for more.

Pain hurts, my dear…but it also heals, too.

For inside every frantically patched together tapestry of grief…there is love…kindheartedness and compassion.

And yet, for some reason, we tend to freeze inside our own pain – locking our emotional ‘door’ to the world, and hardening against a grief that is too awful to bear.

It’s this freezing that gets us stuck, convinced that we will never move on.

And while we are there, we fixate – on the only thing we have left to hang onto…

Our suffering.

Can you see the irony of this self-perpetuating cycle? We want to feel better, and yet we cling desperately to our grief…as if too afraid of the ‘what might happen next.’

My dears, no feeling is ever permanent – and I promise you, so long as you are willing to keep a little softness of heart…you will get through.

But, if you try to force your way through – you may end up missing the ‘lesson’ you needed most of all.

2. Allow yourself to feel those emotions (and only those emotions).

In the brilliant words of American Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron: “Feel the feelings. Drop the story.”
Whatever you’re feeling, whichever emotions that might come into play – resist the urge to be so damned judgmental.

“If only…”

“Perhaps, if I were just a little more…”

Or, on the flip side of that emotional rainbow;

“How dare he/she…”

Yes, my dears…I have been there, too. And, I can tell you from my own experience that when we begin telling stories we run the risk of the story never being done.

We fall into the abyss of obsessive thinking, instead of dealing straight-on with our real pain.

Likewise, whatever you’re feeling…the anger, the resentment, the drop-to-your-knees sort of grief…it doesn’t make you a bad person. Those feelings are there for a purpose; trust in the process of your own revealing.

Remember, this is your experience…your path…your way forward.

And no one can define this for you. You must walk the path alone…in your own way…and in order to discover something about yourself, that you might not have otherwise ever uncovered.

So, stop telling yourself to ‘get over it’ – instead, allow yourself the opportunity to go through it.

3. Stay open.
“The only reason we don’t open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don’t feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with. To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else’s eyes. ”Pema Chödrön
To keep an open heart during difficult times can prove to be our greatest challenge. But, that challenge can likewise yield the greatest reward.

As, when we’re able to keep our hearts open to others, including those ‘tyrants’ we feel have wronged us in some way, it softens us…and helps us to stay present. And, my dears, the moment that we close our hearts to this world – paralyzed by the fear of being hurt once again – is the moment our spirit begins to die.
It’s the staying open that makes this life so worthwhile.

4. Allow yourself to learn love’s lesson.

Everything that we experience is worthwhile.  Did you hear that? Do you understand what this means…?

It means, that we are a reflection of our cumulative experiences – the sum total of the lessons we learn along the way. And every relationship offers the potential for spiritual growth – be open to allowing that growth to occur.

When we are able to embrace all aspects of our relationships – the good, the bad…the ‘omg…did their nose always whistle that ways’ – allows us to build patience, respect…compassion…and loving-kindness also towards our selves.

And, that’s not something you could ever learn through a book. Let yourself settle into the peace of knowing, that you are learning love’s lesson in the most intimate of ways.

(spoiler alert) Somewhere out there in that great big world, someone else is learning this lesson, as well. And when it is that you finally meet (because, that’s how all good stories come into being), then…when you meet you’ll both be ready to love.

And love, for all the right reasons…and in the right way.

Because, in life, there are billions of the tiniest twists and turns – leading up to the moment that will someday steal your breath away.

If only we may have the courage to stay

Namaste, my most beautiful friends….

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Buddhist and the Little Brown Fox.

"None of us knows what might happen even the next minute, yet still we go forward. Because we trust. Because we have Faith.”― Paulo Coelho

I saw a brown fox along the trail this evening, his leg mangled by the trappings of ‘modern’ man.

The moonlight cast his shadow long against the base of my favorite old oak tree , and causing him to appear so very much larger than life.

I thought at first, that he might just run away – certain that all humans were very much the same. But instead, he stayed – gently sniffing the air as if kindness had a fragrance all its own.

Stillness filled the space between us – two gentle spirits trying desperately to understand this quandary of humanity. And I, the softhearted fool that I am…tossed aside all of my Mother’s stern (and most terrifying) warnings, just to see if I might be able to help.

I was still a good 4 feet away, when I knelt down before him – closing my eyes, and reaching forward a rather unsteady hand.

Perhaps, in a way, I was hoping he might push aside a few of his Mom’s ‘most terrifying’ stories, as well…and simply so that this human might help him to heal.

How frightening it must have been for him…alone in the woods, and suddenly terribly injured. I suppose we have all felt this way once or twice ourselves.

I can’t describe fully what happened next, but before I knew it…I had a fuzzy little fox head resting comfortably in my lap – proving faith can find its way along just about any dark, wooded trail.

My dears, these are the moments when my heart is most clear – when I can see beyond hesitation, to know my true purpose here.

To some, it may be to simply rescue an injured fox – and to others, perhaps it’s to help restore faith in humanity once again.

My dears, I believe we all have a much greater purpose in this life – revealed to us in these moments, when least expected.

And all it really takes is a little scrunching of the eyes, and a hand reached forward to realize just what that purpose may be.

Namaste, my loves…and may we always be mindful of the little ones that we are blessed to meet along the way.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

What This World Needs: A Loving Reminder From His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.

"Today’s world requires us to accept the oneness of humanity. Many of the world’s problems, conflicts and fears arise because we have lost sight of the common experience that binds us all together as a human family." ~ HH, the Dalai Lama

I was thinking over a few things this morning, and as I settled into my most favorite chair on the farthest corner of my garden patio.

And, as I watched the steam rise in brilliant swirls to greet the crisp morning air—I couldn’t help but to think over all of this world’s ‘connectedness.’

From something as simple as watching the steam rise from my mug, I am reminded of the million and one simple things that bring us all here together as one human family.

We humans are a curious sort, allows wallowing about in our loneliness—but, how can we feel so very much alone in a universe that insists upon these interdependencies?

My dears, “just as the wave cannot exist for itself, but is ever a part of the heaving surface of the ocean” so, too, must we always remember that we are a most integral part of all that which surrounds us…

Because, my most beautiful friends, in the end—we are all, so most beautifully ‘connected.’

Enjoy this most beautiful video from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, in which he speaks about our common basic humanity. The clip is from his public talk entitled, “Be the Change” given in Inverness, Scotland, on June 23, 2012.

The entire talk may be viewed at http://youtu.be/qBHt02IocLI (www.dalailama.com)

Friday, December 27, 2013

A Love That Lights Up the Skies.

That’s Venus, September thought. She was the goddess of love. It’s nice that love comes on first thing in the evening, and goes out last in the morning. Love keeps the light on all night.~ Catherynne M. Valente
Did you know that Venus rises to the east in winter?

She is the first point of light to brace the barren sky…sharing with us the blessing of her love.
And, last night – she was most particularly beautiful. Gracefully twirling through these heavens to capture even the most curmudgeonly of eyes.

When I was a little girl, I used to spend hours gazing out my bedroom window…wondering how many others might have been similarly transfixed. And these days, it seems even more difficult to look away from this magnificence that rises above.

Last night, I was reminded of a story the Navajo used tell – about a time long ago…before the ‘two leggeds’ walked the Earth, and even before there were stars or a moon in the sky.

The nights were so dark that the animals were constantly bumping into one another. Desperate, they gathered before the Great Spirit to plead for his help.

Great Spirit nodded and smiled as he told the animals, “Watch me, little ones.” He then picked up a bright shiny stone from a stream and placed it in the sky, where it became the very first star. “This is the home star” Great Spirit explained “it does not move, use it to find your way home when you are lost.”

He then sent the animals off in search of more bright and shiny stones…asking them to carry them up to the heavens, where they might make pictures of themselves.

And though, the animals began the task with great speed – soon, the little ones grew very tired. And though, the larger animals continued the task…they, too, soon fell to a similar fate.

Once again, they pleaded with Great Spirit, who offered, “Go to Coyote and ask him to help you.”
And, so this is just what they did.

But, Coyote didn’t want to waste his time helping the other animals. Being such a wise and crafty fellow, he had far better things to be doing.

Still, he did not want to offend Great Spirit -so he asked the animals to leave their stones with him, and promised to soon finish the task.

After the animals left, Coyote began thinking of the grand picture of himself he would create in the sky. “It will be better than all the rest,” he sneered. He spent hours locked in careful consideration, and contemplating the very best placement for his stones.

Suddenly, Coyote realized that it nearly morning – and still, there was so much work to be done. He quickly snatched up the bag of stones and hastily flung them into the sky.

That’s why not all the constellations appear to be ‘finished’ and somewhat scattered in appearance – thanks to the treachery of one Coyote, who thought only of himself.

But, Coyote was soon punished for his deeds – as he realized, that in his rush he failed to set aside enough stones for his own image.

Coincidentally, I’m told that is why the Coyotes howl at night – forever mourning the image that ego so cruelly snatched from the heavens.

And, why Venus’ love now lights up this great Earth.

Namaste, and much love on this day, my dears…

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Embracing Our Imperfect-ness.

I had a bit of a troubling yesterday. You see, my most beautiful children – who are always so very thoughtful in their actions and deeds – had, on this Christmas day, forgotten me.

There were no cards, no gifts…as they hurried through the door, just a quick “Hey Mom” and “Happy Christmas.”

And, in one whirling wisp of ‘holiday cheer’ – my dears, I felt so terribly broken. I cried, and sniffled and carried on…like a child caught in the throes of a ‘collapsed-to-the-floor-carrying-on’ sort of tantrum.

A spiritual tantrum, but tantrum nonetheless.

And all the daily meditations, and loving zen practices in this world…couldn’t break through this ‘fortress’ I had just created.

It was as if, my spirit had been hijacked – by the bully, I like to call ‘ego clinging.’

And, it was raw…and ugly…and most decidedly horrid. But, more so – it wasn’t at all representative of my beliefs.

In my heart, I know that my children love me…

In my heart, I know that they care…

Add to this, that I am not at all…even the slightest bit…materialistic. In fact, I make a practice each day of giving.

So, what the heck just happened here?

I cringed…mortified by this lapse in spiritual judgement, and overwhelmed by the unsettled mess I created.

I wanted to run away. That’s the instinct isn’t it? When we catch a glimpse of ourselves in Life’s proverbial mirror…the harsh lighting casting shadows upon each of our imperfections…we immediately turn away, terrified over what we might really see.
Go to your body and connect with the physical sensation. It always feels really bad; it’s usually a tightening in the throat or the heart or the solar plexus. Stay with that and say to yourself, “Millions of people all over the world have this kind of discomfort, fear—I don’t even have to call it anything—this feeling of not wanting things to be this way. This is my link with humanity.” Connect with the idea that this moment is a shared experience all over the world.Pema Chödrön
Indeed, we all experience these moments of profound uncomfortability – and generally owing to this experience of being human.

And, all of those drop-to-your-knees, god-awful humbling sort of moments? They define us, and share with us another aspect of our being.

My dears, we are not perfect – and that’s precisely the point. Our imperfections, as horrible as they may feel once revealed…become the looking glass into another human spirit.

And, it is within this space of shared understanding that compassion’s roots might finally take form.
And, were it not for this business of being most imperfectly human – my dears, we might not have ever known.
Consequently, and in settling into my own ‘blechiness’ for a bit, I realized…

That thing I was so certain had upset me before? Turns out – it wasn’t at all what it first seemed.

(spoiler alert)…it never is.

My dears, when we learn to simply slow our pace and settle into things a bit…the whole world, becomes just simply infinite.

Namaste, and much love on this day.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

What is Love?

"There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life." - John Lennon
My dears, this morning, I must admit I woke to a bit of a funk. You see, the holidays here, though such a blessing – bring to mind a memory from so very long ago.

It was December 8, 1980 – the night John Lennon was gunned down in front of his home—standing next to him, was his loving wife and soul mate.

I was laying in bed in my room, all of just 12 years old, when I heard the breaking news over the television set,
“An unspeakable tragedy. Confirmed to us by ABC News in New York City. John Lennon, outside of his apartment building on the West side of New York City, the most famous, perhaps, of all of the Beatles. Shot twice in the back. Rushed to Roosevelt’s Hospital.”
And then, the announcer paused just a moment to say, these three words that I shall never forget,
It was the first time I remember feeling such an overwhelming sense of helplessness—at the loss of a most beautiful human life, and one that was barely half-lived.

It was also the very first time I questioned my very own faith—not in God, but rather, humanity. I found myself questioning the very depth of humanity’s moral sense.

It was the first time, I felt such a profound sense of ‘brokeness.’

You see, when I look into another person’s face, I see their humanity; I feel the energy of their spirit. I see the shimmer of their past in those creases and lines and I can see their heart’s fullest potential.

And, beyond any question or lingering shadows of doubt – my dears, I can see their love.

You know, for so many years I held firm to the belief that ‘enlightenment’ was reserved only for the mystics and yogis of t could be attained only by the mystics and yogis of this world.

You know, I used to believe that enlightenment was reserved only for the mystics of this world – but, perhaps not…

My dears, perhaps love is our one true awakening?

oh my love – john lennon

Oh my love, for the first time in my life
My eyes are wide open
Oh my lover, for the first time in my life
My eyes can see
I see the wind, oh, I see the trees
Every thing is clear in my heart
I see the clouds, oh, I see the sky
Everything is clear in our world
Oh my lover, for the first time in my life
My mind is wide open
Oh my love, for the first time in my life
My mind can feel
I feel the sorrow, oh, I feel dreams
Everything is clear in my heart
I feel life, oh, I feel love
Everything is clear in our world

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem.

I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way (s)he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. - Maya Angelou

My dears, what a blessing to stand at the cusp of a brand new year – to look back, with gratitude for all and everything we have shared.

I am grateful to you.

I am grateful to your energy.

I am grateful to the gift of your light.

Much love, and namaste during this Holiday Season ~ and may the blessings of this earth soften each of your steps.

Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem.
by Dr. Maya Angelou

Thunder rumbles in the mountain passes
And lightning rattles the eaves of our houses.
Flood waters await us in our avenues.

Snow falls upon snow, falls upon snow to avalanche
Over unprotected villages.
The sky slips low and grey and threatening.

We question ourselves.
What have we done to so affront nature?
We worry God.
Are you there? Are you there really?
Does the covenant you made with us still hold?

Into this climate of fear and apprehension, Christmas enters,
Streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope
And singing carols of forgiveness high up in the bright air.
The world is encouraged to come away from rancor,
Come the way of friendship.

It is the Glad Season.
Thunder ebbs to silence and lightning sleeps quietly in the corner.
Flood waters recede into memory.
Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us
As we make our way to higher ground.

Hope is born again in the faces of children
It rides on the shoulders of our aged as they walk into their sunsets.
Hope spreads around the earth. Brightening all things,
Even hate which crouches breeding in dark corridors.

In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.

It is loud now. It is louder.
Louder than the explosion of bombs.
We tremble at the sound. We are thrilled by its presence.
It is what we have hungered for.
Not just the absence of war. But, true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.
Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.
We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.
We beckon this good season to wait a while with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.
Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
Implore you, to stay a while with us.
So we may learn by your shimmering light
How to look beyond complexion and see community.
It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.
On this platform of peace, we can create a language
To translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.
At this Holy Instant, we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ
Into the great religions of the world.
We jubilate the precious advent of trust.
We shout with glorious tongues at the coming of hope.
All the earth’s tribes loosen their voices
To celebrate the promise of Peace.
We, Angels and Mortal’s, Believers and Non-Believers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at our world and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at each other, then into ourselves
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation.
Peace, My Brother.
Peace, My Sister.
Peace, My Soul.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Learning to Welcome the Rain.

[...] just remember, the storm doesn’t last forever. It can scare you; it can shake you to your core. But it never lasts. The rain subsides, the thunder dies, and the winds calm to a soft whisper. And that moment after the storm clouds pass, when all is silent and still, you find peace. Quiet, gentle peace.S.L. Jennings
There’s a storm passing through today – breaking the silence of early morning with drifting crescendos of pattering rain.

And, marked by the urgent howling wind through the trees, begging all to ‘take refuge’ before too long.

When I was a little girl, I was so very terrified of these rumbly sort of storms—that the first splintering clap of thunder would send me straight away, sailing to my ‘safe spot’ under the bed.

The monsters, of course – being a much craftier sort – having vacated many hours before.

Oh, and, I would lay there for hours – or what seemed like days….my only defense, a rather well worn red cotton blanket.

In those days, standing up to even the most frightening of storms – was a much easier proposition. Growing up can certainly make things a bit more…complicated.

But, through the years these rains have softened – the crashing bursts of thunder, now signalling the advent of change.

Isn’t it odd how something which was once so very terrifying can become something we learn to embrace? As we realize, there is peace even in the storm.

And, nowadays, my darlings…I have learned to dance in my rain.

Oh, yes….and did you know those monsters were just as equally frightened?

It seems, the solace of their slumber was quite often broken by the haunting screech of one, very loud, little girl.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Importance of the Mountain's Other View.

Mountains, according to the angle of view, the season, the time of day, the beholder’s frame of mind, or any one thing, can effectively change their appearance. Thus, it is essential to recognize that we can never know more than one side…one small aspect of a mountain. ~ Haruki Murakami
My dears, no matter how great the challenge or seemingly insurmountable the odds…know, that there is always another side to that mountain.

I think we all need to be reminded of this on the odd occasion – and particularly, when we find ourselves ‘wincing’ over the climb.

If only we might always consider, that we really are getting somewhere after all…and even as we are standing here looking upwards at what appears to be a simply impossible height.

One step at a time, my dears…will bring you always closer, still.

And hope is never really lost, at all – just a little bit quiet, at times…

Long enough to find, that belief that was resting inside…waiting for that one perfect, breathless gasp of wonder to make itself known, once again.

So, what’s it gonna be, my friends?

To wallow in the pity of having seen just one side…


Maybe, take a little chance to see what a few extra feet might do for your ‘view’…

You know, I'm told the peak is actually quite lovely this time of year.

And, there’s always an extra mug waiting for those who’ll visit me there.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Learning to Live in the Just Enough.

“The soul becomes dyed with the colour of its thoughts.” ― Marcus Aurelius

I caught myself in a flurry of 'thinky-thoughts' this morning - going over the details of my son's arrival, wondering if I had completed everything on 'the list'...

And,*spin, spin, spinning* into the day, once again.

Oh, my dears...and just when does it ever end?

In our hearts, we wish for happiness and calm...

Meanwhile, our 'thinking minds' rumble on and on. 

As I looked out the window, I saw my faithful pup racing around the yard - digging and sniffing his way to a forever sort of bliss. It reminded me of the day I took him for a walk along the nature trail. The fields were filled with brightly colored blooms, which he...simply couldn't wait to explore. 

I sat along the pond's edge, watching and smiling as he moved from flower top to flower top ~ stopping only just long enough, to take in the flower's most beautiful essence without becoming too terribly overwhelmed.

It was the happiest, I believe, I have ever seen him...rolling and wagging in his 'just enough'...

If only we could adopt the same approach to our present thoughts...not too little...and never too much...

And...always, learning to pause in our own 'just enough.'

Namaste, my most beautiful friends ~ and isn't it amazing the lessons we learn from our pups?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Remembering to Breathe.

“You will find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy. So let them go, let go of them. I tie no weights to my ankles.” ― C. JoyBell C.

What do you do when you find it so difficult to walk away?

Do you drag your feet, toes pulling trails through the sand or do you celebrate the gift of finally being free?

My dears, why do we become so terribly unsettled at this prospect? Ripped to shreds by the claws of our very own anxiety?

And, in that moment where our spirit needs freedom the most - why do we clench our teeth, and grip on with all that we've got? While ironically, wishing it all to go away? 

But, that first new breath always comes - with a bold sweetness of having made our way through.

Oh, and isn't this the most beautiful gift of all? This reflection of a new-found understanding and clarity of purpose?

And, yet we always find our way here. Knowing that this gift is 'out there', yet still making a mess of the 'what we have right here...' 

My dears, hold fast...as this breath is always near...and the light of resilience will guide you there.

And, all that you must have is a presence of mind...and a most simple willingness to believe.

So, why not - and just for today, my dears...just simply breathe.


Monday, December 16, 2013

When We Let Go of Ego, We Release the Soul.

“Make your ego porous. Will is of little importance, complaining is nothing, fame is nothing. Openness, patience, receptivity, solitude is everything.” ― Rainer Maria Rilke

I had an incident at work the other day – nothing too serious, mind you…simply a bit of a reminder in a ‘pinchy’ sort of way.

Long story short, I had settled into this view of my ‘work self’ – of ‘slightly disorganized, but mindfully diligent, spit polished and shined’ sort of perspective.

And, when someone pointed out that I wasn’t quite all of those things  – well…it left me, in a sort of unsettled mess.

My dears, we hold so tightly to this ‘view’ of ourselves…that we often, and quite inadvertently, refuse to see things any other way.

This is the ego, clinging. And, it is a oh-so, very subtle…creeping upon us in ways not ever expected.

We cling to old habits.

We cling to pleasing others.

We cling to the way things should have been.

We cling to the idea of love in a nearly loveless relationship.

We even cling to our own stubborn attitude, and the to the perfection of what we believe ‘me’ to be.

In the end, it’s our ‘self’ that gets in the way.

“If only I could have/do/change this one simple thing, then…” and, just like that…the ‘clinging’ catches ego, once again.

Ego says, “Once everything falls into place, I’ll feel Peace”. Whereas, Spirit says, “find your Peace, and then everything will fall into place”.

Can you now see that subtle difference? The critical distinction between self and spirit?

The great fourteenth-century Tibetan teacher, Longchenpa once lectured on the importance of mindful attention; specifically, not allowing our minds to get so very caught up in the meaningless details that we miss that which matters most of all. This useless occupation of our focus can carry on for many moments, weeks, and even years. It’s the time wasted, trapped in the stories we tell – and disconnected from the magnificent beauty of this life we all share.

“Yes, but…” you may offer.

My dears, it’s this sort of thinking that goes on and on and on…leaving a day lost to worries that have yet to manifest.

You see, it’s so very easy to get caught up in our image of self…that we nearly miss out on the better part of living.

“Yes, if only…”

“If I could just be…”

“You just don’t understand…”

My dears, these are the words of a clinging hand…and when you let go of ego, you can release the soul.

So, the only question left to be asked is… what’s keeping you from letting go?

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Little Something They Don’t Teach You in School.

“I’ve been making a list of the things they don’t teach you at school. They don’t teach you how to love somebody. They don’t teach you how to be famous. They don’t teach you how to be rich or how to be poor. They don’t teach you how to walk away from someone you don’t love any longer. They don’t teach you how to know what’s going on in someone else’s mind. They don’t teach you what to say to someone who’s dying.”Neil Gaiman
I really love this quote, by author Neil Gaiman ~ as it provides a much-needed insight on life and of living.

My dears, there are just things that must be learned, and not simply taught. These are the lessons that require real life circumstances to help us understand their meaning.

The pain of watching a loved one’s passing ~ so that we may understand this gift of life.

The uncertainty of moving forward, without yet ever knowing our path ~ so that we may understand the true power in our purpose.

The torturous blow of another man’s hate…so that we may always understand the necessity for compassion.

These are the lessons that matter most of all – the lessons that can not be learned from a book.

It reminds me of a Buddhist story, the one in which an mad elephant charges wildly through a crowded street, forcing all in its path to flee in terror.

But, the Buddha remained ~ silently watching, and just simply waiting.

And when this mad elephant turned all of its massive rage towards Buddha ~ still he sat peacefully in meditation…smiling, and calling the elephant nearer.

The elephant, was so overcome by the Buddha’s radiant kindness, that he knelt before him – bowing his head in a most gentle reverence. In this moment, violent rage was overcome by tenderness.

Spoiler alert ~ the story isn’t really about a charging elephant, at all…rather, this story is about how we may free ourselves from personal suffering by simply changing our interaction with this world.

And that, my dears, is a little something they don’t teach you in school ~ to feel peace in this moment, no matter what life’s circumstances…or how ever many ‘charging elephants’…

Because, my dears…our happiness…our peace…our bliss… is something that we always control.

Namaste, my most beautiful friends…

Thursday, December 12, 2013

To Be Awestruck by Life's Simplicty.

“Oftentimes we call Life bitter names, but only when we ourselves are bitter and dark. And we deem her empty and unprofitable, but only when the soul goes wandering in desolate places, and the heart is drunken with overmindfulness of self.

Life is deep and high and distant; and though only your vast vision can reach even her feet, yet she is near; and though only the breath of your breath reaches her heart, the shadow of your shadow crosses her face, and the echo of your faintest cry becomes a spring and an autumn in her breast.

And life is veiled and hidden, even as your greater self is hidden and veiled. Yet when Life speaks, all the winds become words; and when she speaks again, the smiles upon your lips and the tears in your eyes turn also into words. When she sings, the deaf hear and are held; and when she comes walking, the sightless behold her and are amazed and follow her in wonder and astonishment.”  ~ Kahlil Gibran

I've been doing quite a bit of inner reflection, as of late. Moments of profound stillness, fueled by this burning desire to move a little closer to spirit.

And, it's not so easy, now, is it? Sitting quietly in meditation while our thoughts are so busily churning away.

Confounded by Enlightenment's elusiveness - watching it forever slip, from our permanently tightened grip.

Distraction is such a fool's game - captivated by all that we want, transfixed by that which may never come our way.

But, my dears...even stillness knows to 'breathe softly against those brick walls.'

So, why not settle into things a bit?

And, give yourself this much needed space...

To be awestruck by life's much simpler things...is indeed, and by far, the most wonderful thing.

Video: The Biological Advantage of Being Awestruck.

The Biological Advantage of Being Awestruck - by @JasonSilva from Jason Silva on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Vestibule for Our Fear.

“You must not hate those who do wrong or harmful things; but with compassion, you must do what you can to stop them — for they are harming themselves, as well as those who suffer from their actions.” ― Dalai Lama XIV

I had a most interesting conversation with my workmate this morning. He had read an article indicating that the United States was fast becoming the most hated nation in the world.

More specifically, that hating America was, in a sense, becoming its very own 'religion.'

I can't imagine a darkness to this level. And, I can't imagine a heart so devoid of compassion that it would strike the arrow of hatred towards someone who's spirit is not yet even known.

To hate, without ever knowing why - my dears, that is the most frightening prospect of all.

Have we so hopelessly lost our connection to our "one human family" - that we allow Fear to determine our way forward?

My dears, yesterday evening...just before dawn...I heard the sound of gunshots breaking through the stillness of a cold winter night.

It was inside that moment, that a young boy died - his life's sum relegated to a simple news headline. 

My dears, I believe hatred is trying to destroy our 'view' - born of our deepest fears, and engaging a most primal instinct to fight.

But, what is it that we're so very afraid of? Is it the pain of life itself? Or, the uncertainty of death? Are we so paralyzed by our fear of the unknown - that we've left only one tiny, dark space for our spirit to go?

“In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them.... I destroy them.” ~ Orson Scott Card

Or, can Fear become Compassion's vestibule?

My dears, what is it that you believe?

Russell Brand: The Only Thing That Matters to Any Of Us Is Love.

“What a privilege it was to edit the words of one of the greatest men of our generation.” ~ Timothy Shieff
Published on Nov 21, 2013 

This video is presented through the brilliant creative spirit of Timothy Shieff, who so painstakingly pieced together the better portions of  a most simple truth.

That, there is so very much we are unable to see – but, that doesn’t diminish the power of its presence.

Love permeates our every being… and underscore our every thought, every word…and every action.
We are not ever alone, my dears – rather, we are inseparably intertwined in this fabric of love.
Here’s a download link to the audio for you to carry with you, always.


Much love, and namaste…my most beautiful friends.

And remember, through love all things are possible.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Magic in a Snow Covered Day.

"She stuck her head out and took a deep breath. If she could eat the cold air, she would. She thought cold snaps were like cookies, like gingersnaps. In her mind they were made with white chocolate chunks and had a cool, brittle vanilla frosting. They melted like snow in her mouth, turning creamy and warm.”  ~ Sarah Addison Allen
Oh, it's a snow day here today - a day in which all offices are closed, and simply because a fine dusting of glorious white winter powder has fallen once again from the sky.

My own opinion is that those who govern the opening and closing of offices during these winter weather events are, actually, quite fond of building snow forts.

But, I digress... :)

When I was a little girl, we lived in an area referred to as, "The Snow Belt." From our house, we could see Lake Erie - who was a notoriously stormy vixen, who thought nothing of delivering a full two feet of snow in one single visit.

And, each year, my Mother would curse the foul, frigid sloppiness... 

Oh, but I...I could wait to find my way through those lofty drifts.

In those days, all we had to do was play - stopping only for a quick refuel, and just enough to get through the remainder of the day.

I do so love my winter days.

I love the sound of muffledness - the sound the earth makes when 'all tucked in.'

I love the sound of howling winds, and the creak-crack-shlooshing of ice-encrusted trees.

I love the way the flurries play, like little white house cats swirling around my legs.

And today, I watch in wonderment - as the this new snow gently forms against my window - 'politely begging entrance', and in the hopes that we might once again, play.

Oh, my dears..I do so love my winter days...and the long awaited arrival of Mother Nature's invitation to stay.

Video: Snow Circles (I might just try this today)

Snow Circles from Beauregard, Steamboat Aerials on Vimeo.

Monday, December 9, 2013

When the Path Becomes the Teacher.

“The two hardest tests on the spiritual road are the patience to wait for the right moment and the courage not to be disappointed with what we encounter.” ― Paulo Coelho
And, isn't that just the most simple truth?

That we wish so much for only the best things in life, but are often too bothered to wait for their arrival?

And, when it so happens that it's not quite as expected...well, we tend to forget that sometimes the Universe has a much greater plan.

My dears, in life patience and courage go hand in hand - where one is absent, the other must stand.

We must have patience enough to realize, that nothing in this world happens by chance.

And, courage enough to know that no matter what, we will be ok.

Our spiritual path is often a long and winding road - and though, at times it may not yield precisely what we may have wanted... trust, my dears, that there is always a reason.

Because, isn't it true..that in the end, our spiritual path becomes our very best 'teacher'...?

That is, if we can learn to just simply let it...to let patience and courage go hand in hand.

Namaste, my most beautiful friends...and just for today, have a little faith, my dears -

Because, you see...your journey is only just beginning.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Magic of Believing.

"The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.” ― J.M. Barrie

When I was a little girl, I believed in Santa Claus.

In fairness, I also believed in the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny...and that pixie dust could make you fly. But, the big guy and I...we had a very special bond.

It started one year, when I had been unfairly implicated in the breaking of my Dad's new staple gun. Tools were always 'off limits' in our house - and my brother, having been unceremoniously stripped of his 'youngest child' honors, was continuously on the look out for new ways to throw his baby sister under the proverbial bus.

It was the first time I had ever been in such 'very big' trouble.

I rehearsed my speech to the Big Guy for weeks - carefully reconstructing the true series of events, and in hopes that I might right the wrong of an unjust 'naughty' status.

And, as I hopped up onto his lap inside that crowded Higbees's department store - tears flowed, as I began to pour out my heart,
"My brother..." sniffle, snort, "is stupid."
Yes, after weeks of painstaking preparation - that's all this little heart could muster. I could feel the dark clouds of doom rolling in.

Not only had I botched the representation of my own case, but I had committed further trespass by revealing my true feelings about my brother.

But just as I began to run away, Santa pulled me in closer to say,  "Ah...it's a good thing Santa loves you anyway."

In those next few short minutes, he shared with me the meaning of Christmas - that we must always share of our hearts, and to believe in the greater good.

I've carried that lesson with me, even still to this day. As, it was the first time I recall understanding what it meant to believe.

When we are small, our beliefs are formed without prejudice and without those awful preconceived notions that are learned through our later years.

We believe without the complexity of having to ever know why.

And, when we believed - we believed with all of our heart; and without the expectation of 'something in return.'

But then, something happens...and our ability to believe, sadly changes.

We allow fear to take our willingness away.

My dears, we all feel the sharp pains of sadness. And we are all met, at times, with seemingly insurmountable odds. Challenge and hardship will always find us, and no matter how careful the planning.

But, isn't this where compassion begins? These events which humble us, which bring us to our knees ~ form the thread which connects all of humanity.

And, that is what helps to make our believing even stronger still.

My dears, it is belief that ignites the fire of our purpose. It defines us, carries us forwards...and guides us to the divine essence of that which we truly are.

When we believe in a cause, we fight for it.

When we believe in others, we support and uplift them.

Belief is the basis for all of our being. And, belief will defy any barriers that dare to stand in our way.

History is replete with stories demonstrating the power of belief in the saga for good.

Ghandi believed so very strongly in a free India, that he gave his very life to support the continuance of this most simple dream.

Martin Luther King, Jr. stood, unwavering, against the hostility of an entire nation - and for the single purpose that all men be treated as equals.

They did so because they believed in humanity...they believed in compassion.

They believed that with hope, all things are possible.

In 1948, author Claude Bristol wrote a most wonderful book entitled, The Magic of Believing. In it, he describes the common thread that connects all cultures and religions - that is, what you believe becomes your reality. It is the power of belief that shapes the form and patterns in our lives.

 My dears, what do you believe? If you could make one wish this year, what might it be?

And why, are you standing in possibility's way?

p.s. - I still believe in Santa Claus...and I think this year, I've made the nice list, once again.

Video: Charter for Compassion: Karen Armstrong

People want to be religious, says scholar Karen Armstrong; we should help make religion a force for harmony. She asks the TED community to help build a Charter for Compassion ~ to restore the Golden Rule as the central global religious doctrine.

Watch this most wonderful video, as author Karen Armstrong provides her wish for a much better world. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Little Something About Those Giant Singing Rabbits.

“All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” ― T.E. Lawrence
I've been having the silliest of dreams, as of late.

Nothing too serious, mind you....well, I suppose, that depends on how you feel about a six foot four inch, broadly grinning, Cabaret singing rabbit.

(insert 'jazz hands' here)

My dreams can often quickly venture into the space of 'that which just can not be.'

And yet, still I wake...so brilliantly refreshed. No cause for worry, or concern - no lingering doubts, or unsettledness.

Instead, I just simply stretched.

My dears, wouldn't it be wonderful if our 'waking dreams' could be this way? To turn off that inner dialogue with Impossibility, would be...in fact..a most amazing thing.

We humans are such odd creatures...embracing, without question, all that we see on the news - while our own dreams, we allow so easily to fade....having convinced ourselves that there's just no way.

You know, I used to think I was such a foolish child...always walking about with my head in the clouds.

But perhaps, it's quite the other way around...?

For those who'll let their dreams slip past....my dears, they are the greatest fools of all. 

Namaste, my most beautiful friends ~ and please excuse me, as I've a world to watch spinning 'round.. ;)

Video: The Fool on the Hill

Friday, December 6, 2013

If You Must...

If you must wait
Wait for them here in my arms as i shake
If you must weep
Do it right here in my bed as i sleep

If you must mourn my love
Mourn with the moon and the stars up above
If you must mourn
don't do it long

If you must leave
Leave as though fire burns under your feet
If you must speak
Speak every word as though it were unique

And if you must die sweetheart
Die knowing your life was my life's best part
If you must die
Remeber your life

you are all

If you must fight
Fight with yourself and your thought in the night.
If you must work
work to leave some part of you on this earth

And if you must live darling one
Just live...

YOU from William Williamson on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Beware of the Second Arrow.

"We are not punished for our anger, we are punished by our anger. In other words, anger is its own karma." ~ Eknath Easwaran

A prominent Buddhist in our community was once given the task of lecturing a small group of students on the topic of pain. It was part of a larger lecture series on mindfulness. Sadly, as his talk was positioned to the end of the evening schedule - he was left with only just 10 minutes to speak.

It seems the other Buddhist lecturers were not so very mindful of time management.

But, I digress...

All eyes followed as he took his place at the podium. What could possibly be shared in the timespan of ten short minutes that would lend itself so fully to this topic of mindfulness?

And as he stood there shuffling his note cards, and stroking his beard in careful contemplation - with a knowing smile, he leaned forward to say,

"Beware of the second arrow."

He was referring to a concept in Buddhism called 'dukkha' - a Pali word that has been used to describe the spiritual side to trauma...the anxiety, the stress...the inescapable fear and loathing that captures our mind in an endless dialogue of dread.

These are the emotions which are built upon the stories we tell...and in most cases, form the basis of our own internal suffering.

In the United States, we tend to use pain and suffering interchangeably. But, the Buddha taught that there is a critical distinction between the initial pain brought about by an intensely damaging physical or mental event, and the pain we develop in reaction to that event.

The Buddha also taught that although pain is inevitable, there is a path that leads to the end of our suffering.

And, that path isn't wrapped up inside the perceived 'security' of our stories.

Neither is it nestled within the, 'what if' or 'what might have been'  scenarios.

Rather, the end of our suffering resides within our recognition of that which just simply is.

The flowers will bloom magnificently, and we will be honored by the grace of her fragrance. But, eventually the flower will wilt towards the earth.

Thus begins the cycle, once again.

"It's part of being human to feel discomfort. We don't even have to call it suffering anymore; we don't even have to call it discomfort. It's simply coming to know the fireyness of fire, the wildness of wind, the turbulence of water, the upheaval of earth, as well as the warmth of fire, the coolness and smoothness of water, the gentleness of the breezes, and the goodness, solidness, and dependability of the earth. Nothing in its essence is one way or the other. The four elements take on different qualities; they're like magicians. Sometimes they manifest in one form and sometimes in another.... The first noble truth recognizes that we also change like the weather, we ebb and flow like the tides, we wax and wane like the moon." ~Pema Chodron; "Awakening Loving-Kindness"

There is a most brilliant analogy to demonstrate this conflict of clinging. Clench a coin tightly in your first, and with palms upward - open your hand. Now do the same thing with your palm facing towards the ground.

In both cases, the coin is in your possession but how you hold it is up to you.

If you want to feel the true nature of happiness and bliss, you must find a way to leave behind the negativity of desire...to look deeper to where true contentment resides.

My dears, nothing in this world is ever permanent - and it's always our choice how we respond to that 'second arrow.'

Namaste and much love, my most beautiful friends. And remember, that which we allow is that which continues.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Little Glimpse of Wonderful.

“Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.” ~ John Lubbock

I happened upon the most delightful of stories this morning, one that so clearly demonstrated the capacity of all living things towards love.

When I was much younger, a 'well-intentioned' school teacher tried to convince me of something most absurd - that there was no such thing as a truly unselfish act.

We were discussing the works of author, Mark Twain. More specifically, his essay entitled, What is Man? - which so poignantly captures the dialogue between an idealistic youth, and a jaded old man.

It is a powerful analysis of the 'human condition' - begging further examination of man's motivation towards other men. The jaded old man, of course, arguing vehemently that all conduct stems from one single motive - that of self-satisfaction.

It was by far, Mark Twain's most spiritual, and philosophical book - which he ironically kept locked inside his desk, only to be published long after his death.

And, if the conversation I had on that day was any indicator - I could most certainly understand why.

We Southerners are quite skillful, you see, at shaking up the proverbial bees nest - and leaving before the welts have had their chance to form.

For some reason, I was reminded of our conversation this morning - and in watching this video.

I have always believed action to be a reflection of spirit - and that love, is the most powerful motivator of all.

But, what do you think?

My dears, are we so firmly bound by the destiny of genetics?

Or...is there something much greater coming into play?

VIDEO: How A Leopard Reacts When It Finds Out Prey Had A Newborn

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Formed on the Wings of Happenstance.

 “Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart.” ~ Marcus Aurelius

A friend sent something wonderful to me, just the other day. And though, we've only just really 'met' - in a sense, I feel I've known her forever.

Such is the nature of these such things...when friendships are formed on the wings of happenstance, and tucked inside the curious fold of this, the everlasting.

I have always been blessed in just this way...fate weaving it's threads through life's delicate sheers.

And I am left, always...so wonderfully amazed.

Fate will always find you, my dears. Even into the darkest hour...there she waits, "Hello, my friend...it's so good to see you once again."

And, with smiling eyes I shall return her glance...knowing Fate will soon  yield to Destiny's hand.

When we're able to give Fate her chance...we'll find a whole new world is born...right within our grasp.

Much love, and many blessings my dears ~ and may we be ever-mindful to the magic of happenstance.

Variation on a Theme by Rilke:
by Denise Levertov

"A certain day became a presence to me,
there it was, confronting me -- a sky, air, light:
a being. And before it started to descend
from the height of noon, it leaned over
and struck my shoulder as if with
the flat of a sword, granting me
honor and a task. The day's blow
rang out; metallic -- or it was I, a bell awakened,
and what i heard was my whole self
saying and singing what it knew: I can."

Monday, December 2, 2013

A Backdrop of Trees Along an Old Country Road.

“Some roads are so beautiful that you cannot know not whether you travel on the road or the road travels within you!” ~ Mehmet Murat ildan
I paused along a winding road this morning. It was wrapped within the loveliest of hues, and I so desperately needed to capture it. 

There's something about these magnificent scenes, that stop me dead in my tracks and steal my breath away. 

This path was no exception - as its branches bowed forward to pull me into the grace of its divine radiance. It's in this letting go that my spirit can truly 'dance.'

I've often wondered, what is it that brings these paths to life? 

To awaken our senses with child-like innocence and a hope that is everlasting? 

When something as simple as a splash of red can set our whole world back to 'right'?

And the backdrop of trees against an old country road, can remind us of the purpose of being alive.

Be Thankful

Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.

It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are
also thankful for the setbacks.

GRATITUDE can turn any negative into a positive.

Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
and they can become your blessings.

Author Unknown

Sunday, December 1, 2013

And Now for Something Truly Wonderful.

“Happiness doesn't result from what we get, but from what we give.” ― Ben Carson
I was a little disheartened by the news headlines this weekend—frenzied shoppers toppling barricades, and all in the spirit of giving.

Why, just this morning I nearly lost a limb reaching over for that very last carton of milk - the other shopper, though slight in appearance, had claw-like daggers on her fingertips.

Sigh....just when did the act of giving become so darned competitive? Have we forever lost the true meaning of this holiday season?

I remember as a child waiting with great anticipation for Christmas - my Mother stealing away to the kitchen to begin her holiday baking ritual. She always stashed the very best cookies in a Charlie Chip can to the very back of the cupboard shelf. And, each year, my brother and I would stealthfully nibble our way through.

It wasn't until many years later, that I learned that these cookies to be the 'cast offs'...my Mother, it seems, was always one step ahead of my brother and I. 

And as for those Christmas tunes blaring steadily over the airwaves? In those days, the crackling and hissing of a roaring fire was all the 'music' we ever needed.

All year long, I would scrimp together whatever small change I could find ~ and, all in the hopes of bringing a smile. My Dad always made such a grande gesture, and no matter what the gift - "Oh, look at this," he would shout, "this is exactly what I needed."

You see, in those days...the holidays were more about the giving.

"O Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
 Where there is hatred, let me sow love;  
Where there is injury, pardon;  
Where there is error, truth;

Where there is doubt, faith;  
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;  
And where there is sadness, joy.    
For it is in giving that we receive;"

I suppose, it may seem rather odd for a hippie Buddhist like myself to be quoting scriptures - but, for some reason.. this one very much 'speaks' to me.

Perhaps, there's a reason to these few words finding me here? In hopes, that the 'gift' inside the giving may, once again, be found.

Because, my dears, it is through giving that we receive.

In closing, I hope you won't mind that I share with you this most beautiful story - of a young man, who in remembering his holiday's past, decided it was far time to do something about it.

This is the story of Dickon Johnstone, who sat outside a busy coffee shop, holding the following sign;

You see, he was also frustrated with the frenzy - and hoping so very much to make a difference.

At first, he was mistaken as a beggar - but, just watch as these faces begin to realize his kindness.

Much love, and many blessings ~ and may we all push aside this frenzy for awhile.