We ain’t alone!

I have been MIA for awhile…like many of us, the busyness of life caught me along with the desire to go idle, meaning that sometimes the inner process has to go into the dark.  I have had an unusual amount of beloved ones leave this planet and at the same time an ability to feel supported by not just those in my community but by what is unseen, yet felt.  Sometimes we call it ancestors and sometimes we call it spirits, but for now, I will name it that which lives in the mystery of our connections.  So, I am learning again that all is impermanent, every thought, feeling, and our beloved body too. The moment is always unfolding and this poem is my ‘what matters’ for how we are strung together like beads, straight through the heart.

Where Is God?

It’s as if what is unbreakable –

the very pulse of life – waits for

everything else to be torn away,

and then in the bareness that

only silence and suffering and

great love can expose, it dares

to speak through us and to us.

It seems to say, if you want to last,

hold on to nothing. If you want

to know love, let in everything.

If you want to feel the presence

of everything, stop counting the

things that break along the way.

– Mark Nepo

Quan Yin

The Journey of Breast Cancer: How Myth and Archetypes Support Healing in Contemporary Times

In honor of those that have taught me the depth of this journey!

what matters most

I was recently walking on the beach and chose a route that took me to a seemingly solid sand bar. But when I arrived, I realized that when I stood there the waves were lapping around my ankles and I was sinking! The waves were helping the sand to dissolve underneath me, leaving me suddenly gasping and darting as fast as I could for solid ground.

When a woman hangs up the receiver from a phone call, or is sitting face to face with her medical doctor who conveys her worst fear–a breast cancer diagnosis–her life is no longer on solid ground. When each woman waits for this news, she begins a journey that will take her through a descent and ascent that is deeply personal and life changing.

Our ancestors as well as our cultural icons have lessons for us. Each of us remembers a favorite fairy tale, a…

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How about a gratitude buddy?

Last fall, when life seemed to be deep in pressures of all kind and I seemed to be lost in others suffering, I reached out to a dear friend to inquire about being a gratitude buddy?  We have known each other through studying spiritual disciplines together over the years, share a common thread of our work and raising children about the same age.  I said, ‘what the heck’ she can say no.  But that is not what turned out to be the case.  This daily practice of sending an email to one another to say just what we are grateful for and about has proven to be a bedrock practice that reminds both of us to see to good in our lives and that of others.

It really is simple, I heard the suggestion on a pod cast of one of my favorite Buddhist teachers, Tara Brach and it hit home or my heart.  It is rather simple, just say yes to someone, write as often as you can (cuz life happens).  It takes about five minutes really, just say one or two things that you are grateful about, even if it seems like nothing…find one little thing.  And send it off!

Here is a favorite poem of mine that I believe inspired me to just keep going, to find just one thing, one good thing, one thing to be grateful about, to say ‘Thank you’ and mean it!

Arms Full of Wildflowers

Gratitude means showing up on life’s doorstep,

love’s threshold, dressed in a clown suit,

rubber-nosed, gunboat shoes flapping.

Gratitude shows up with arms full of wildflowers,

reciting McKuen or the worst of Neruda.

To talk of gratitude is to be

the fool in a cynic’s world.

Gratitude is pride’s nightmare,

the admission of humility before something

given without expectation or attachment.

Gratitude tears open the shirt

of self importance, scatters buttons

across the polished floors of feigned indifference,

ignores the obvious and laughs out loud.

Even more, gratitude bares her breasts, rips open

her ribs to show the naked heart, the holy heart.

What if that sacred heart is not, after all, about sacrifice?

Imagine it is about joy, barefoot and foolhardy,

something unasked for, something unearned.

What if the beat we hear, when we are finally quiet

is simply this:

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

– Rebecca del Rio

Threads of Connection

‘To be the change we seek’ Gandhi

5398red_thread

While this has been a week of many losses,  family members of friends, a cancer patient of mine, Nelson Mandela, those that are suddenly ill….I will not tire of being present to what it takes to be human. I recently heard a question on a dharma talk…
‘What stands in the way of love, unconditional love?’
I come to that answer with two things, fear and unprocessed grief. Life does not afford us the leisure to grieve or feel things in an ongoing way it seems. My meditation practice is what keeps me at least in my body to feel and stay awake to naming what does come to the surface or even sit undigested.

‘What stands in your way of love?’

During these days of watching, listening, reading of Nelson’s contributions and great suffering, I was reminded of how we truly are all connected. I felt for awhile the world stood still in silence for more then a few moments. Have you taken a few yourself?

‘There is an endless net of threads throughout the universe. The horizontal threads are in space. The vertical threads are in time. At every crossing of the threads, there is an individual, and every individual is a crystal bead. And every crystal bead reflects not only the light from every other crystal in the net, but also every other reflection throughout the entire universe.’

Rig Veda

Acceptance, Just As It Is!

“Inside yourself or outside, you never have to change what you see, only the way you see it…”

Thaddeus Golas

We live in a world of opposites: good/bad, happy/sad, day/night, up/down, left/right. Carl G. Jung speaks about maturity being born out of the ability to endure the tension of these opposites. As I have aged, I have settled into an acceptance of this truth. Our ability to shift between extremes must be developed to manage skillfully this terrain of the truth. In the face of bad luck or adversity I strive to see any hidden potential for good that may lie within.

Have you ever felt trapped by events allowing you no way out? We may feel this when we are on the cusp of something new or are moving from one stage in life to another. I have often found that even when good things happen to someone, their next thought may be one of doubt or uncertainty, as if matters should not be as they are. I notice in both others and myself this human tendency to resist change, whether it is bad or good.

 It is our attitude toward these episodes that makes all the difference. I use the image of two wings to work with this: one wing holds what is true, just as it is; the other wing, compassion and acceptance for this truth, regardless of what it may be. Working with this image allows me to grapple with my feelings so as to move towards understanding. Can a bird fly with only one wing? No. Both wings, interconnected, allow space for this tension of opposites to be held, endured and brought to resolution.  

Can you sit for a moment and just be? Can you focus on what is without wanting to change it? Can you say yes to what is here right now, regardless of your desires? This practice of accepting truth, regardless of the situation, holds the potential for freedom and liberation. 

Take a moment to sit with something with which you may be struggling. Breathe in, still your mind the best you can, focus on your chest rising and falling. Accept the present just how it is, nothing more, nothing less. Visualize these two interconnected wings. What is the truth of the situation right now? Name it, say it to yourself. Then feel the other wing, the one of compassion and humility. See if you can feel acceptance for just what is without judgment, blame for your perceived shortcomings or engagement of the inner critic. 

I have found that with a little practice, acceptance may be found when slowing down long enough to reconnect with ourselves. Fly with the wings of truth and compassion to discover the gratitude and grace born from this acceptance of the moment. As a Spanish proverb so wisely puts it, “Dance to the tune that is played.”