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Monthly Archives: June 2014

New Paths

Local labyrinth

Local labyrinth

A couple of years ago I heard about there being a labyrinth at a local church.  Mostly I’ve forgotten about it altogether but when it has come to mind it’s one of those I-should-check-that-out-sometime moments.  So having some time to myself over the weekend I finally went to check it out.

After a quick internet search I discovered it was only a few blocks from my house.  So I grabbed my camera and a water bottle, turned on my ipod, hopped on my bike, and headed over.  To my surprise the labyrinth was behind a church that, while I’ve passed by it before, never noticed.  It’s funny what one can pass by for so long and never see.

The labyrinth sits next to a lovely community garden full of herbs, flowers, and vegetables and follows (I think) this traditional pattern:

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Posted by on June 23, 2014 in Everyday Practice

 

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Connection

 

Lake Como, Montana

Lake Como, Montana

              Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard. ~Standing Bear                     

To become more connected to ourselves, others, our surroundings, nature, and the greater wide world I think is what life is all about.  Cultivating a mindfulness practice is all about connection.  Dwelling happily in the here and now is directly related to how connected we are in the present moment.

Yesterday I went to Lake Como in the Bitterroot valley (located in western Montana).  Along with my mom, stepson, and one of his friends we went on a hike partway around the lake.  We were hoping to make it to the waterfall but we had to let go of our destination due to lack of time (If you zoom in to the pic above you’ll be able to see the waterfall across the lake).  Alongside the lake trail were wild roses deep pink and fragrant, hillsides splayed with long blades of thick green grass, inclined fields of great craggy rocks, and rust colored trunks of Ponderosas.  While walking along a nature trail it is wonderfully difficult to not be absorbed into one’s surroundings.  Connection is inevitable within the embrace of nature – sometimes it might take a little while to allow the weights we carry to be put down but, if given the proper amount of time, connection comes quite organically.

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Buddha Garden

Garden of One Thousand Buddhas in Arlee, MT

Garden of One Thousand Buddhas in Arlee, MT

 

Yesterday I stopped by the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas, in Arlee Montana, for a brief visit.  It has been a while since last I’d been there and as the garden is an ongoing and unfolding project every visit yields new developments.  If you are interested in the garden please go to: http://www.ewambuddhagarden.org/

 

Garden of One Thousand Buddhas in Arlee,  Montana

Garden of One Thousand Buddhas in Arlee, Montana

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Posted by on June 18, 2014 in Everyday Practice

 

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Our Thoughts = Our World

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With our thoughts we make the world.  I find this deep revelation and teaching to be at the root of transformation.  For transformation to be possible we need to be able to see how the direction of each moment is up to us and for that to happen we need to come into relationship with how we think.

Many of the struggles we face can be traced back to how we think.  The large stumbling block we tend to face, however, is that we either don’t fully understand this fact or we don’t really believe it to be true.  Ever notice how people who complain or are the pessimistic/worrying type often tend to have “bad luck?”  When we think the world is out to get us, that people are against us, and that life is generally crappy we create the conditions to bring this all to fruition.  When we think other people, places, and things are responsible for our state of well being, or lack thereof, we will continue to suffer.  The more we place blame outside of ourselves the more we run into people and situations that strengthen our case for further cynicism.  What we look for so shall we find.

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Everyday Mindfulness

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To cultivate mindfulness in our daily activities is to re-engage with the present moment.  To wake up to what is going on within and around us in the here and now.  The practice of mindfulness allows us to switch off auto-pilot and turn on conscious living.  There are many ways to integrate mindfulness into our day-to-day schedule – here are some of the ones I personally enjoy:

1. Sitting Meditation.  Soon after I wake up in the morning I practice sitting meditation for 20 minutes.  I find that starting off my morning with meditation enables me to have a strong foundation for the unfolding of the rest of the day.

2. Bowing to the Earth.  I end my sitting meditation with three bows to the earth.  I consider these to be a practice in offering gratitude.  In my first bow I always say the same thing: I bow to the earth in gratitude for this one precious life.  My second and third bows vary from day to day.  Sometimes I offer gratitude to my parents and ancestors, my friends and community, or my husband and son.  Sometimes I offer gratitude for joy, abundance, the luxuries of electricity, housing, food, or clean water.  And sometimes I offer gratitude for the earth, sky, waters, air, sun, and moon.  Offering gratitude is important.  And I find bowing to be important as well.  While kneeling I bend over and prostrate to the earth, resting my forehead down on my meditation cushion, with my hands on the floor, palms facing upwards.  Prostrating to the earth is a practice of humbling oneself, of letting go of the ego, of connecting, and of offering reverence.

3. Meal Gratitude.  Before each meal I take a moment to stop and connect with the food in front of me and the many conditions present that brought it to my plate I and say a few words of gratitude.  If I’m eating with my family at home we take turns saying them aloud but when that isn’t the case (which is much of the time) I simply say them to myself silently.  I have a long and short version that I often recite.

Short version: This food is the gift of the whole universe, the earth, the sky, and much hard work.

Long version: This food is the gift of the whole universe, the earth, the sky, and much hard work.  May I keep my compassion alive by remembering that there are many people who don’t have enough food to eat or access to clean water, who will die of starvation and malnutrition today.  I accept this food with gratitude and reverence for the life I am afforded.

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This is Just a Drill

City Emergency Response Drill, Morning Prep

City Emergency Response Drill, Morning Prep

Yesterday there was an emergency response drill at the airport.  Community members were asked to volunteer to be part of the process in order to enable city emergency responders to practice their organization and skills in the event of a tragic occurrence.  The FAA requires every airport to perform these drills every three years.

The day was sectioned into two parts and a volunteer could sign up for all or part of the day.  The morning was designed as the Response Phase, where volunteers would act as victims of a plane crash, and the afternoon was set up for Family Reunification, where volunteers would be searching for their injured loved ones from the crash at the local hospitals.  I signed up for the whole day.  When I heard about this volunteer opportunity I was motivated to get involved due to having been active with the clean-up efforts of the local avalanche that struck a neighborhood in our town three months ago, burying four and claiming the life of one.  After that experience I figured the more I can do to help train emergency responders the better.

The Response Phase required us to sign in around 7:30am.  We were given cards upon our arrival that listed our injuries and symptoms and then proceeded to go through moulage, the application of scars and make-up to simulate our assigned injuries.  There were around 70 volunteers so this process took some time.  My card stated that I had upper back pain, a lacerated left shoulder, and trouble breathing deeply.  It also had my vitals listed on it.  Here is a pic of my fake wound:

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Posted by on June 1, 2014 in Community

 

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