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Monthly Archives: April 2013

Basking

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After I saw my thirteen year-old out the door this morning on his walk to school I did a few minutes of sitting meditation embraced in a warm spring sun beam shining in through my bedroom window.  I felt my posture stable and relaxed soaking up the sun as my lips curved to form a gentle smile.

After my meditation I headed out to do some childcare for some friends of mine.  They have a five-year old boy and a recently turned 2-year old girl.  Before I was injured and contracted a nerve disease which qualified me for disability a few years ago I was a nanny and before that I worked in pre-schools and day cares.  I love hanging out with kids.  They have much wisdom and much to teach.

I spent my day making up silly songs about underwear falling down (to the tune of London Bridge), since the 5-year old, like many boys his age, enjoys toilet humor, negotiating healthy snacks and a proper lunch to kids who would rather eat popsicles and pizza for every meal, playing frisbee with suction cups in hand (an idea sparked by the five-year old), and trying to convince the 2-year old that bugs were not bad.  I also fielded many 5-year old budding questions such as, “Why do you wear the same clothes everyday?” and in response to my bowing in gratitude to my plate of food at lunch, “What are you doing?”

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Indeed I have been wearing the same clothes everyday now since November.  I have two pairs of the exact same style and color of dark brown pants and about five or six of the exact same style and color moss green shirt.  I commended him for his awareness and explained how I enjoy the simplicity of having only one outfit.  He seemed to understand and then asked me how many pairs of shoes I owned, to which I answered, “I have three pairs of shoes.  These ones I’m wearing (my crocs which I wear most often), my snow boots, and a pair of motorcycle boots (which I only wear when I’m on my bike of course).”

I also enjoyed talking to him more about why I give thanks to my food before I eat.  With a really puzzled expression on his face he asked, “Do you thank your food EVERY time you eat?” to which I answered, “Yes, I do!”  Unlike the having one outfit conversation it took him longer to begin understanding this concept of thanking the food.  I spoke with him about how having food was a gift and that not everyone in the world had enough food to eat.  Then I mentioned how the farmers had to grow the peanuts for the peanut butter and strawberries for the jelly, how the trucks had to work to transport the food to the stores, and about all the different workers involved in helping bring the food to our plates.  After briefly explaining all of that he said, “OR you could just go to the store and get the food,” to which I asked, “But how does the food get there?”  He thought about it for a moment and then I said, “We need the farmers and the trucks and all the people to get the food to the stores.  Without all of those people we’d have no food in the stores.  That’s why I like to give my thanks to the food.”

A productive day I would say!  Kids have a beautiful and simply way of communicating and they are in every moment always ready to absorb and learn and grow.

Reflecting on the day the practice of present moment, wonderful moment was alive and strong.  I feel gratitude coursing through me for youth, playfulness, the sun, laughter, silliness, good questions, and taking the time to stop and literally smell the blooming flowers.  And now in the solitude of night under a clear dark sky I am enjoying the ease of a clean and quiet house.

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Quiet Moment

breathing

Fresh pine flavors spring’s footfalls

as winter cracks and melts

in warm rhythms

pulsating like deep breaths

 

Undertones of blue slate and cream

mark passing clouds

in an ocean’s expanse

of mountain skies

 

Prairie grazers coats shed thickened fur

like soft dandelion tufts

swept in currents over the rocky divide

 

As a day once bright and bold

is invited to rest by dusk’s gentle hands

colors of daffodil sun rays mute to lavender

before succumbing to a delicate ink black approach

of a rounding stone moon’s curtain backdrop

 

Silence’s volume is turned on high

as heads lay to sleep,

drops of light spill out from sputtering celestial fires,

and what once in the heightened bustle of a single day seemed dire

now dissolves on the tongue of a quiet moment

 

– Nicole Dunn

 
 

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Earth Day

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IN PRAISE OF MOTHER EARTH 

(written by Thay, Thich Nhat Hanh)

Homage to you Refreshing Earth Bodhisattva

Mother of this world with its many species.

We want to turn to you with respect,

Beautiful green planet in the midst of the sky,

You who have given birth to countless species,

Produced so many wonders of life,

Loved in the ultimate sense of non-discrimination,

Embraced all species not barring a single one,

Loyal and reliable, tolerant and stable,

The mother who bears all species.

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Relating to the Weather

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How we relate to the weather says a lot about how we relate to life.  And we can use our relationship to the sky as a mindfulness tool (a barometer if you will) to look more deeply into our conditioned responses in our daily lives.

The first step is to shine the light of awareness onto how we perceive the weather day in and day out.  Do we find ourselves obsessively worried about it, checking the forecast often?  Are we disappointed when anything other than sunshine happens?  When the weekend rolls around do we find ourselves saying, “Man, I really hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow, that would suck.”  Do we describe the day as dreary, awful, or some other adjective for unpleasant when it’s simply cloudy out?  How quick are we to label the day as “bad” solely based on the weather?  Do we dread any sort of physical discomfort or complain about the cold, heat, rain or snow?

This may seem trite but I would counter that indeed it is the areas that we label as un-important in life that can often bear the most fruit.  If we get bent out of shape over the weather, which is almost entirely out of our control, it stands to reason that there are other areas in which we are not grounded in our lives.  Getting bent out of shape can take many forms from anger to mild irritation to simply carrying your hope for “better” weather around with you in the back of your mind.

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If our relationship to the weather is that of it never being just right or commonly waiting for the promise of tomorrow to bring more sun, more warmth or more whatever it is we think will make us happy this provides a mirror for us to see how we relate to the present moment.  When we spend our present moment waiting for something better to happen in the next moment, whether it be in regards to the weather or not, we carry with us the stress of never being satisfied.  When we spend our lives waiting for better weather we spend our lives waiting for a day that never comes.  Learning the art of Be Here Now is the most valuable practice we can offer to ourselves, our loved ones, our community, and the world.

Being here now is not an ethereal idea or intellectual thought it is a true practice – a practice that you engage with and bring alive.  The practice doesn’t just happen on its own when the conditions are “right”, you have to actually do it.  It can be easy at first to think that Be Here Now means to deny your feelings or cover up certain parts of your experience but this is not the case.  To Be Here Now is to let go of the stories we attach to life’s unfolding that are neither skillful for our process of moving forward or provide value.  When we practice letting go of our regrets about the past and worries about the future the present moment is available to us.

We create the internal garden that we water.  When we water seeds of negativity, self-doubt, self-pity, complaining, worrying, stress, fear, anger, and so on those are surely the seeds that will grow inside of our mental, physical and emotional states of being.  When we water seeds of joy, ease, acceptance, openness, connection, adaptation, letting go, and so on those are surely the seeds that will grow.  What kind of garden do we want to nourish right here in this present moment?

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2013 in Everyday Practice

 

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Daily Practice – Day 21

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Day 21 – This is the final day of my daily sitting meditation practice intention that I set up for myself 21 days ago.  I remember when I started out I was nervous about broadcasting my intention to sit everyday out of fear that I wouldn’t follow through.  And now that I’ve come to the last day I would say that using my blog and posting everyday for the last 21-days to help support my intention was the best thing I could’ve done for myself.  It was extremely beneficial to hold myself accountable to my own personal intention to practice a few minutes of sitting meditation everyday.  And I would encourage anyone to do the same if you’re thinking about trying to start a new routine or practice.  The support of others reading my posts and following along with me through this journey is something I am deeply grateful for.  Thank you so much my friends!  (I’ll be sure to keep you posted on how my daily sitting practice continues onwards from here).

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2013 in 21 Days of Sitting

 

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Daily Practice – Day 20

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Day 20 – I did my 10 minutes of sitting meditation before leaving the house this morning.  I’ve been finding this online meditation timer really helpful: http://onlinemeditationtimer.com/  Since I’m on my laptop a lot when I’m at home the online timer gives me the flexibility to sit anywhere in the house and not just in the bedroom where my meditation clock/timer is.

I stumbled upon the quote above a couple of weeks ago and really resonate with its message.  This saying is interwoven with what I often talk about in regards to having a small comfort zone and not being able to step outside of it.  When we cultivate a security bubble, never challenging ourselves in different situations, places or around other people we generate a small comfort zone and then have difficulty engaging in anything outside of what we’re familiar with.  In our attempt to avoid discomfort and suffering we often will create more discomfort and suffering simply by trying to control the parts of life that are out of our control.

In my experience when we are able to make friends with the things, places, people, and situations that create fear, stress, anxiety, sorrow, frustration, discomfort or difficulty we are then able to let go of the tension we create by trying to control and avoid those things.

This is one example I’ve heard a lot over the years from people in our meditation sharing circles – let’s say I’m afraid of spiders (we have a lot of them around the mindfulness center :).  If whenever a spider appears I react by shrieking, shirking away, turning my head so I can’t see it, tensing up my whole body, and eventually fleeing the area I will never be able to make friends with the spider.  In that moment I would be making friends with my fear and imagination instead.  We have very active imaginations (and many of us have watched WAY too much tv/movies).  We allow our minds to carry us far away from reality and what is happening in the present moment.  When we are able to stop and come back to our breathing our breath will be our anchor to the here and now.

Of course with all things there is a balance and it will be different for each of us.  I’m not saying we need to immerse ourselves in a tank of spiders or that we have to pick one up everyday and say, “Hello little friend, how are you today.”   But I know for myself that when I am able to take small steps in the direction of making friends with whatever it is I am uncomfortable with I move in the direction of ease and joy and I then become more skillful when it comes to the next situation.  And there is always a next situation to be encountered.

 
 

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Daily Practice – Day 19

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Day 19 – Before I did my sitting today I sang the morning chant which I really enjoy and don’t often do.  I find that the morning and evening chants are nice ways to start off my sitting meditation.

This week I’ve had very fully days.  Often going from morning to night with meetings and projects and to-do lists.  I appreciate the momentum that has been building up over the last 19 days in regards to my daily sitting meditation practice.  In the past it was so easy for me to make excuses of reasons why it didn’t work to sit from one day to the next.  I think it’s easy to tell ourselves that we don’t have time, that our lives are too busy for this or that.  And often what we don’t have time for is something that’s beneficial, healthy or supportive to our overall well being, such as: more rest, better eating habits, more exercise, more time with friends and so on.  We tell ourselves, and anyone who will listen, how busy our lives are as if our daily schedule was created by someone else and handed to us at the last minute.

Sometimes we forget that how our day unfolds is directly due to decisions that we ourselves make.  We are the only ones that can prioritize the things and people in our lives.  If we find that we have no time for cultivating friendships and spending time with family it’s because we’ve set our lives up that way.  If we have no time to meditate then it’s because we’ve made something else more important.  With every decision we make, whether it’s conscious or unconscious, we set up our own lives.  We are the only ones who can.

 
 

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