Thursday, March 23, 2017

An Inner Quiet

Feeling quiet (in a good way) these days. Something has shifted within me, and when that happens sometimes I just want to taste it, savour it, feel the spaciousness of a deeper level of freedom from old worries and certainties. I know, dissolving old certainties doesn't sound like a fun, but the truth is it is often our certainties (particularly the ones on the edges of consciousness) that rob us of joy and shackle us to ways of being that have very little to do with who we really are. So I am being quiet, enjoying the shift, letting myself open to the joy of spring- both inner and outer. ~Oriah "Mountain Dreamer" House

In this quiet I imagine my inner landscape looking a lot like this spectacular photo of stillness at dawn from Karen Davis at Open Door Dreaming

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Are We Really Here?

I am doing a little mindfulness experiment. Growing up, I was encouraged to give up something for Lent- usually something thought of as "bad" for us (sugar, coffee, tv etc.) My own take on this was to find and surrender those things or habits that made us less available to God/the Mystery/the Sacred. This year, what came as I meditated on being more available to the Unconditional Love that holds us, something new came: to give up doing more than one thing at a time.

It makes sense- but is much harder than I imagined it would be. I live alone. When I walk into the kitchen to make food or clean up I flip the radio on and listen as I work. I often watch something on my computer when I eat, or talk with a friend on a telephone headset when I am doing mundane housekeeping chores. I listen to music when I am out walking.

Now don't get me wrong- I don't think that these or a thousand other instances of engaging my mind with something while I am doing something else are in any sense "bad." But, operating this way does split my attention, and means I am rarely 100% with the task at hand.

So, I decided to try it. And what I'm realizing is how rarely I actually bring all of my attention to the present moment when I am not formally meditating. And, of course, even without distraction from the outside, I can take myself away from the task at hand by thinking about yesterday or planning for tomorrow.

And I wonder: how much of my life am I missing simply because I am almost always doing more than one thing at a time? I wonder if I love reading so much because I simply cannot do it while doing something else. Well, that's almost true- I often read while taking a bath. The challenge becomes: can I do one thing at a time- bring my full attention to cutting vegetables without simultaneously hearing the news; feel the sensation of soaking in hot water without reading; take a walk with my senses opened to the experience of shifting weight as I move avoiding cars; do nothing else while I am listening to the news, watching a movie or talking with a friend?

I invite you to join me and share what you experience here. Based on my recent experience, I would suggest keeping expectations low: try it for the morning or an afternoon and just notice what happens, or do it for just an hour during the busyness of the day.

If someone pushed me to articulate the purpose of life in just a few words, I would say, "To be here, now. To show up." Turns out that's not as easy as it sounds, but there is really no where else to be.

~Oriah "Mountain Dreamer" House (c) 2017

The photos of Karen Davis at Open Door Dreaming always make me pause, take a breath and find the present moment.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Ashes To Ashes

Not here much these days because I seem to be down with a nasty virus. Today, desperate for a shower I got dizzy in the bathroom and accidentally brought down a glass shelf full of breakables and ended up on the floor amidst broken glass. Humbling.

Then I read Anne Lamott's post reminding us that today is Ash Wednesday on the Christian calendar, a day that reminds us of our own mortality- ashes to ashes, dust to dust. In the shamanic tradition in which I practice we talk about making death the ally. I hear that message in this story Anne included in her post:

"When I was 38, my best friend, Pammy, died, and we went shopping about two weeks before she died, and she was in a wig and a wheelchair. I was buying a dress for this boyfriend I was trying to impress, and I bought a tighter, shorter dress than I was used to. And I said to her, 'Do you think this makes my hips look big?' and she said to me, so calmly, 'Annie, you don't have that kind of time.' (From Anne Lamott)

Reminds me of the Jack Kornfield quote that goes something like, "The trouble is you think you have time."

None of us know how much or what quality of time we have (says the woman so recently collapsed on the bathroom floor amidst broken glass.) Living is what it is about, to the best or our ability today. Because "this too will pass" includes both the small daily annoyances, the incredibly wonderful moments, and the human life we have been given.

Long, slow breath and deep gratitude for life, Oriah

Gratitude for Karen Davis who delivers these breath-taking photos on Open Door Dreaming page daily.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Good Time to be Alive

Last week I had a few days in bed with acute pain. It happens. I was diagnosed with M.E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) thirty-four years ago. Some years/weeks/days are better than others. The hardest part is the unpredictability. So, lying in bed waiting for pain meds to kick in, I was surprised at the thought that arose: There has never been a better time to have a debilitating chronic illness. This was not me trying to find a “silver lining” to the situation. I am as attached as anyone to fulfilling anticipated activity for the day, although I’ve probably had more practice at letting go of plans than most. But the thought made me smile- because it’s true. Lying in bed with my laptop, I have access to the world. I can write emails, read news, connect on social media, take a course, listen to podcasts, watch movies, order food, do research, check in with family, and offer some of my writing to the world. And, I can do all of this without revealing to anyone I may be in touch with that I am lying in bed, a hot mess of pain and exhaustion. None of this took away the pain of the moment, but it did perk me up to consider how modern technology has enabled us to access large aspects of the world, even when we cannot walk outside. And, despite the pain (which I know from experience will ebb and flow- much better today) I was flooded with gratitude that made me grin, even as I tucked the covers up under my chin. It is a good time to be alive. ~Oriah "Mountain Dreamer" House And one of the wonderful things I am able to do whether sick or well is see the spectacular photos of Karen Davis at Open Door Dreaming posted daily.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Living in Love

There are thousands of ways to fall in love.
At night I open my eyes in the welcoming darkness
And listen to the rain whispering to the leaves.
And I fall in love with being here.
In the morning I smile, grateful for hot showers,
Sweet tea, and cinnamon baked apples.

There are thousands of ways to be in love,
To listen to the song of another’s heart
To hold them with tender attention,
To forgive ourselves for all the moments we’ve missed
In our hurry to get somewhere
Not realizing there is nowhere to go, that love is already here.

On good mornings,
mornings when I am not distracted or forgetful,
I get up and ask:
How will I make love to life today?

~Oriah "Mountain Dreamer" House

Happy Valentine's Day dear FB friends. With deep thanks to Karen Davis whose photos at Open Door Dreaming help us fall in love with this beautiful planet each day.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Body Wisdom in Challenging Times

Yesterday, I felt a slight tension in my chest that often leads to tachycardia (pulse sometimes as high as 200 bpm) that accentuates my regularly irregular heartbeat, (not to worry- it is being cared for and monitored.)

And the thought came, "My heart stumbles."

I've just been sitting with that. A rapid, irregular heart beat can feel like a stumble, the kind of misstep we make when walking if we are distracted, or moving too fast, or feeling very emotional.

So, I remind myself to slow down, to focus on this present moment, and to notice how too much news and passionate commentary can stir up strong emotions that exhaust and disorient. I am not suggesting that we turn away from awareness of our shared world, but I think my heart is reminding me to consider how I can be informed and participate in a sustainable way.

And when it comes to sustainability, our bodies are the experts.

So, what is your body telling you today about what you need? ~Oriah

Just looking at this photo from Karen Davis at Open Door Dreaming I imagine the sound of the waves. Perhaps a day to go down to the lake and let their rhythm steady my stumbling heart.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

No Deal With The Divine

There is no deal with the divine, no sacred scoreboard keeping track of and rewarding us for being at our best, or punishing us for lapses in awareness when we are ruled by fear. Hard things- deep losses and daily struggles- happen to good people.

But here's the paradox: There is no deal AND what we do matters. What we do matters because it funds or depletes our ability to greet what happens with an open heart; because we are one strand in an infinite tapestry that connects all that is, and our attitude and actions ripple out into this inter-beingness co-creating our shared world.

For me, this is the core paradox of being human: There is no deal AND what we do matters. If we can hold both of these truths at the same time we can make choices fueled by hope, without white-knuckled attachment to outcome, aware of how little we know or control. In the moments when we can do this, we are free to offer what we can, live with what is, and receive what we need. When we can live the paradox we can let Love hold and guide us.
~Oriah "Mountain Dreamer" House

Gratitude to Karen Davis at Open Door Dreaming for the photos that remind me- as walking outside does- that life-sustaining beauty presents itself to all without reservation. Reminds me of scripture I heard as a child about how the rain falls on the just and the unjust.