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This poem is one of my personal favorites that I’ve written. I wrote it after having gone in and through a particularly difficult time. It continues to bring me solace today.

past the borders of happiness and unhappiness
a rim of fire oaks bid me on the blue horizon

smooth hand like leaves held me there
while the first hard rain fell

I kneeled and leaned into the heady fragrance
of an ancient wisdom revealed
beneath the old rough timber

it spoke of the delicate balance in being
at once firmly rooted while gently yielding
whenever the fall winds swept through

I heard of the necessity of winter’s annual arrival
for stillness is the silent cathedral of the earth

I learned that what drops away gives rise to rich black loam
so that nothing that is cherished ever perishes

listening intently now, the old knowing timber whispered
how it never seeks to contain what cuts deep

no, you give it up to the low slung clouds overhead
to be carried on the wings of the air

©heartsdeesire

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This is my latest favorite find from Pema Chodron. On her FB page, she posted the link to a HuffPost article about her recent appearance on Oprah’s “Super Soul Sunday”, with some beautiful tips on ending suffering or any level of general discontent:

“You breathe it in,” Chödrön says. “It’s as if you breathe it into your heart and your heart just gets bigger and bigger. Every time you breathe in, the heart gets bigger and bigger, so that no matter how bad it feels, you just give it more space. So when you breathe in, you’re open to it, I guess you could say. And then when you breathe out, you just send out a lot of space.”

“Sometimes I say, ‘What does your heart feel like?’ People will say, ‘It feels like a rock.’ What does your stomach feel like? ‘It feels like a knot. It’s as if my whole body was clenched… because I’m so miserable,'” Chödrön says. “So, breathe in and let that heart open. Let the stomach open.”

Do six deep in-breaths, she suggests. It’s a practice that Chödrön calls “compassionate abiding,” and with it comes an enlightened view of the world’s connectivity: You are not alone.

“When you breathe in, you can recognize that all over the world — right now and in the past and in the future — people are going to feel exactly what you’re feeling now. A feeling of being rejected. The feeling of being unloved. The feeling of insecurity. The feeling of fear. Rage.” Chödrön says. “Human beings have always felt this and always will. And so you breathe in for everyone that they could welcome it, that they could say, ‘I haven’t done anything wrong.’ Embrace it.”

 

 

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I’ve been off scouring the Internet for the creme de la creme of helpful tools for mindful living, and found this little gem from Eckhart Tolle:

“Suffering needs time, it cannot survive in the now.”

Wow! Talk about ending suffering in one sentence or less!

Ah, yet I know it can still remain just a concept without self awareness. And sometimes habit mind is already off and running before awareness kicks in, what to do then?

So I also found this exercise which is a perfect grounding tool to help bring us back around to fully inhabiting the present moment:

“Take your thumb and connect it with your pinky, take 5 deep breaths, in through the nose, out through the mouth.  Do the same with your ring finger, then your middle finger, then your index finger.  Then finally, bring all 5 fingers together and take 5 deep breaths.” (excerpted from thespirtscience.net)

I have used this exercise several times a day since I first came across it, and have also found it a successful tool to use during night time wakefulness, especially when it’s accompanied with being anywhere but in the now. Great tool over all to use day or night!

And finally one more mindfulness quote. This one is from Thich Nhat Hanh who is a beautiful resource for walking meditation. I am especially appreciating him right now as he was seriously ill earlier this fall, but seems to have recovered.

“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”

Try that, even if just for a few moments – habit mind takes a holiday, while your feet are kissing (and connecting with) the earth and the result is pure bliss!

May we all experience less suffering and greater freedom and peace!

 

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It doesn’t interest me if there is one God
or many gods.
I want to know if you belong or feel
abandoned,
if you can know despair or see it in others,
I want to know
if you are prepared to live in the world
with its harsh need
to change you. If you can look back
with firm eyes,
saying this is where I stand. I want to know
if you know
how to melt into that fierce heat of living,
falling toward
the center of your longing. I want to know
if you are willing
to live, day by day, with the consequence of love
and the bitter
unwanted passion of your sure defeat.

I have heard, in that fierce embrace, even
the gods speak of God.

~David Whyte~
RIVER FlOW: New and Selected Poems

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A few posts down I quoted some from Tara Brach, she illustrated the use of a question that I then used. Using that question became the pivoting point out of a dark place I was in at the time. The question was:

“Ok, what is actually happening right now?”

The ice bucket challenge is en vogue at the moment. Asking myself that question was like throwing a bucket of ice water on myself – it woke me up! I could see immediately how all my suffering was from past and future thinking.

And with that question, I followed the breath into the body and I let myself feel the breath move, feel where it got stuck, be with that, and continue breathing some more. A softening then begins to happen, because I’m inhabiting this moment fully present in the body, my home here on earth.

I don’t recall Tara’s exact words but it was something about those of us who have experienced a lot of wounding in our lives, benefit by a regular spiritual practice of some sort. Now that I’ve emerged from that dark place, I’ve taken her advice to heart. I’ve continued to practice this question many times a day, any time I recognize I am in a story. It’s a new muscle I am learning to develop and flex.

What I have found is, the question can so effortlessly turn my attention to right now. Yet, I noticed something else was temporarily at bay in the background. It, of course, was the story that jibed with wherever the breath got stuck.

I listened to another talk by Tara Brach “The Freedom of Yes”, and I heard her respond to the story with this statement:

“I give myself permission for this. Permission for this. Permission for this.”

The next time I had an opportunity to use that original question – “Ok, what is actually happening right now?”, I followed the breath into the body and I felt the familiar tightening right in the solar plexus. Being with it and breathing, I gave the tightness a name and gave it permission to be there:

“I give this struggle permission to be here.”

I did not go into the attendant thoughts that match struggle, I’m still staying present in the body, and breathing slowly and consciously, repeating – permission to be here, permission to be here.

If you try this, observe how it softens, how you start to relax, a truce has come, the inner struggle is dissipating because it’s being met with at last, acceptance. Struggle is defined by our unwillingness to be with whatever arises. When the unwillingness is dropped, that’s the sweet spot.

My dear friend has always said: “whatever you can let yourself have, you can let yourself release.” I’ve heard these principles said dozens of times in different ways, but until someone could mentor the way in for me (Tara Brach), it looked good on paper, but was a nebulous concept just the same.

I hope this was as useful for you, as it was for me, and a deep bow to Tara Brach for the wisdom, support, and inspiration!

 

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I promise not to rub salt into raw wounds.  I know many of us out there are shocked and grieving at the death of Robin Williams.  There was a point, I could not look at or hear anything about this without crying.  So this morning I just happen to stumble on Marianne Williamson’s post on Facebook.  I see the title, and I think – no way, I am not reading this.  Then I remember, this is Marianne Williamson!  She’s not going to take us through some heart breaking journey of his life, no she will elevate us all from our sorrow.

I need read nothing more on the subject, she says it all:

“ON THE PASSING OF ROBIN WILLIAMS…

One theory of death is that, upon our passing, we experience our lives again backwards. Whatever I gave or did not give to others, I will experience what they experienced — times ten. That would mean that for every laugh — either a small chuckle or outright guffaw –every smile that Robin Williams caused to occur in others, he is now experiencing tenfold. That would amount to bliss unending. May it be so.

Juxtaposed with both irony and tragedy, of course, is the unspeakable suffering that would have led to his death, and the grief today of those who knew him best and loved him most. Let’s hold both truths in our hearts — a deep appreciation that a comic genius walked among us and shared his gifts with us, thanks for the opportunity we had and still have to enjoy his talent, and prayers of peace for his soul and comfort for his family.

Dear God,
May Robin Williams be blessed.
May he find in heaven the peace he could not find on earth.
May he know now the joy that he gave to all of us.
Give comfort to his family,
and rest unto his soul.
Amen”

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Have you ever had this experience: you are having a reasonably good day, and then seemingly out of the blue comes some big fear thought?  You meet that, it dissipates and next thing you know another fear gets lobbed over the net.  It’s foul and you know it, but you hit the ball and engage with it anyway!

So many teachers speak of just being with fear, not judging it, pushing it away, or denying it.  Well, I am a thinker and a doer, so I like to know how is it that we can be with fear in a self-friendly manner.  And, I am always discovering and inventing new ways to live in self-rapport.  This blog is a treasure trove of tips for these things.  Here’s my latest:

I have recently been using this statement – fear is in the mind, when a fear thought shows up.  Sometimes I’ll have a thought, my left brain kicks in and wants to know is this a fear thought or something else?  I crack myself up sometimes!  But it’s always a fear thought, if it separates you from the fullness of who you are meant to be!  Strip it down to its lowest common denominator and all judgment, worry, anxiety, depression, etc. is fear talking.

Being with fear and identifying it as simply “fear is in the mind”, is that compassionate awareness that isn’t immersed, and under the spell of fear, nor is it pushing it away.

A couple of weeks ago I read the world news reports and felt it very discomforting, so much unrest, so much violence.  Then I remembered again – fear is in the mind, fear is in the world too.  I can’t fix it, or make it better, but I can bring that compassionate awareness to me and everyone else.  That being with is the way out of fear, but it has to be genuine and wholehearted.

We all feel fear, it’s encoded in our survival instincts.  Some fears don’t seem to make sense, some do.  Some fears don’t even seem to be our own, maybe they are the fears we picked up from someone else.  We get it, fear just is. Why not find a compassionate way to be with that fear.

And now unencumbered by the need to do something about fear, new vistas open up revealing wide open fields, ours for the joy of living and the loving.

So that’s my new tool, it’s been working for me.  If any of you try it, I would love to hear your experience of it.

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