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Whimsy

 

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I came upon him in the forest, imagining that he could be anything.

Perhaps an ancient bearded wooly mammoth.

Or maybe it’s the shroud of the original unicorn.

Maybe it will begin to rise up and stretch after centuries of sleep, and then lean down for me to hop on.

Maybe that’s why they put the horn on top, for the holding on place. And off we would go, where time turns on end, fantasy is reality, and wonder and curiosity are the shiniest coins in my pocket.

 

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11585056-abstract-illustration-of-a-glowing-flowerThis quote is from mindfulness teacher Jeff Foster. Below I will append the quote, and then add links where you can get additional quotes from him.

DO YOU EVER GET THE FEELING…?

Do you ever get the feeling 
that you live on the threshold 
of pure possibility? 
That you are life itself, 
and the power that creates galaxies
moves through you? 
And you are that power?
And every thought, every sensation,
every feeling, however intense,
however uncomfortable, however fragile,
is itself an expression of the same power?
That no thought nor sensation is against you?
That you are vast enough to hold it all?
That you are not a person becoming conscious,
nor a seeker seeking that which seekers seek,
but consciousness itself pretending to be 
a person becoming conscious,
seeking itself and delighting in the seeking?
That the wave cannot be divided from the ocean?
That you are the destination and the origin?
That love is closer than the next breath?
And infinite peace is your nature and birthright?

Do you ever get the feeling
that you live on the threshold
of pure possibility?
And all the wonders of the universe 
are already yours?

– Jeff Foster

Yum, isn’t that just so inspiring! You can find more on his Facebook page at Jeff Foster (www.lifewithoutacentre.com) or his main website: http://www.lifewithoutacentre.com.

He writes so many inspirational, heart opening pieces, that I would be spamming you daily if I reposted them, so I hope you get to read and select some of your own favorites.

Buddha Shovels Snow

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It’s been a long time since I posted any poetry from Billy Collins.  He’s an interesting poet – irreverent at times, addressing life even in its difficulty with equal parts depth and humor.   His poetry is accessible to even those who don’t like poetry.
I was having an online conversation with a Northern Michigan friend, speaking in metaphors about how even the most mundane, repetitive work can be honored as sacred.  She began to tell me how much this mirrored her day shoveling snow, and I was immediately reminded of this poem.  So for all my friends out there who weathered the snow and frigid temperatures lately, this is for you:
Shoveling Snow With Buddha

In the usual iconography of the temple or the local Wok
you would never see him doing such a thing,
tossing the dry snow over a mountain
of his bare, round shoulder,
his hair tied in a knot,
a model of concentration.

Sitting is more his speed, if that is the word
for what he does, or does not do.

Even the season is wrong for him.
In all his manifestations, is it not warm or slightly humid?
Is this not implied by his serene expression,
that smile so wide it wraps itself around the waist of the universe?

But here we are, working our way down the driveway,
one shovelful at a time.
We toss the light powder into the clear air.
We feel the cold mist on our faces.
And with every heave we disappear
and become lost to each other
in these sudden clouds of our own making,
these fountain-bursts of snow.

This is so much better than a sermon in church,
I say out loud, but Buddha keeps on shoveling.
This is the true religion, the religion of snow,
and sunlight and winter geese barking in the sky,
I say, but he is too busy to hear me.

He has thrown himself into shoveling snow
as if it were the purpose of existence,
as if the sign of a perfect life were a clear driveway
you could back the car down easily
and drive off into the vanities of the world
with a broken heater fan and a song on the radio.

All morning long we work side by side,
me with my commentary
and he inside his generous pocket of silence,
until the hour is nearly noon
and the snow is piled high all around us;
then, I hear him speak.

After this, he asks,
can we go inside and play cards?

Certainly, I reply, and I will heat some milk
and bring cups of hot chocolate to the table
while you shuffle the deck.
and our boots stand dripping by the door.

Aaah, says the Buddha, lifting his eyes
and leaning for a moment on his shovel
before he drives the thin blade again
deep into the glittering white snow.

~Billy Collins~

Spiritual Awakening

 

FullSizeRenderToday I bring you an excerpt from Jeff Foster’s “10 Shockingly Simple, Life-Changing Principles of Spiritual Awakening”, click on that link to see it in its entirety.

Tough to pick just one to highlight from the 10, so I will pick the one that is most likely to trip me up.

“6. ACCEPTANCE IS NOT SOMETHING YOU ‘DO’, IT IS WHAT YOU ARE

Acceptance doesn’t mean that an unpleasant thought or feeling will go away; it may stay awhile. Don’t try to accept it (as this is often resistance in disguise) but acknowledge that it is ALREADY accepted, already here, already part of the scene. Treat it as if it perhaps will always be here! This removes the pressure of time (trying to make it go away, wondering why it’s “still here”). It IS here, now. Bow before THIS reality. Be curious. And allow any urges, any feelings of frustration, boredom, disappointment or even despair, to come up too and be included. They are all part of the present scene, not blocks. Even a feeling of blockage is part of the scene!”

Sometimes my attempts at being fully present with what comes up is actually an insidious hidden agenda to change it, make it go away, so I don’t have to feel it. This will fail every time, because it is not meeting the moment as it is. What a relief, just as he writes – if it’s here, it’s already accepted! How do we know that? It’s here now! It’s that simple.

I also absolutely love – “treat it as if it perhaps will always be here”. I think most of us have something we bump up against. How much better does it feel to honor – this (whatever it is) is here now. Sure maybe it’s been here before, maybe it will be here again, but all I have before me is this moment. There is no “it’s always been this way, it will always be this way” in this moment.

Be well, and at peace my friends … and have a look at the rest of the above article, and another really good one (also, by Jeff Foster), which I have previously posted a link to is “40 Surprising Truths About Suffering”.

Let It Be

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I renewed a former passion of mine in hiking last year. Many of the pictures you see posted here lately are from these hikes. I am a forest lover through and through. But I had no idea that this time hiking would take me on a journey to healing a long standing fear that I’ve had since I was a teenager – the fear of being a woman, alone, and in a secluded area.

I start my hike and the fear comes up, it doesn’t just bubble up either, it’s right up close and personal. Then I stop and look around me and see how all life seems to support another – a “dead” tree becomes home to moss and mushrooms. A leaning tree finds another to hold it up, they begin to grow together. Everything is supported in one way or another. Maybe I am, too?

I walk further up the mountain, the fear is back. I consciously breathe, hand over heart, and let it be present, not with its story, just the pure, raw emotion. Let it be. Breathe, let it be. As Tara Brach says: permission to be here.

On this one particular day, my hike was my daily Facebook blessing, which I will share with you below. By the end of that hike I turned in gratitude before my descent. Where there was fear, I found comfort, and a space to allow the fear to come to rest.

Fear comes, it goes, big fears, little fears, doesn’t matter. Maybe everything, at it’s heart, is just calling us to simply be with it fully, whatever it is.

Blessings Day 665: so excited to get to the mountain today, I knew she’d be shrouded in mist! It’s as if Mother Nature turned the dial up on awe and amazing! Every step another awe-inspiring experience, so I could hardly keep my eyes to the trail. Deeper and deeper I strode into her mysterious, murky womb to know ever more – this place is holy. This place is sacred. This place is healing.

 

Greatest Hits

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These are two useful mindfulness tools from my “greatest hits” of 2014. I still practice both of these. The first is very calming, grounding and restorative, and useful also with nighttime wakefulness. The other is a great one from Tara Brach, helpful when thoughts are regretting the past or projecting into the future – it is an instant pivot! Finally, I conclude with something new, and equally impactful, from Byron Katie.

“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)

This last greatest hit from 2014, is just one simple question quoting the mindfulness teacher, Tara Brach. I put this question on one of my homemade “well being” cards. It’s a great reminder, and especially useful the moment you even start to dip a toe in the waters of suffering.

“Ok, what is actually happening right now?”

Deceptively simple, isn’t it? But incredibly powerful!

And lastly, I’ve appended the Byron Katie quote below. The last two sentences are especially helpful if you are arguing with what is, which is to say feeling like anything, whatever it is, should not be happening. That is the very heart of suffering, and that’s why I am committed to bringing you (and me) tools to help ease it. Be well and at peace, my friends.

“Things are happening to me. Stressful thought.

Things are happening for me. Positive thought.

Things are happening. Truth.”

 

 

Led by Grace

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In the rhythm of late afternoon I came this Christmas day to all that is holy to me.

Here, where there is no “dead of winter”.

Here, forest so teeming with life, it sprouts up tiny green, fresh and new through a carpet of dead leaves.

It takes root, births light, sustenance, and flows in ever widening rivulets down the mountainside.

I flow along … a happy wanderer … led by grace.

Happy Holidays Everyone, from my neck of the woods to yours…