As summer slowly turns to fall with the setting sun edging towards the horizon noticeably earlier each day, my stepson becomes a freshman in high school, and I begin my first job search in 6-7 years (since my health has been improving) I am put in touch with the nature of impermanence. Everything changes!
Hand in hand with the practice of embracing impermanence is the practice of letting go. Oftentimes in order to embrace one thing we must be able to let something else go. In order to embrace fall we must let go of the summer. To embrace our children as they grow and mature we must be able to let go of who they once were and how we, as parents, once treated them. Everything and everyone are of the nature to change. The more we expect things and people and ourselves to stay the same the more we will continue to be disappointed when the opposite inevitably happens.
Part of what I love about cultivating a mindfulness practice and Thich Nhat Hanh’s tradition is that what we are being drawn towards and connected to is the art of simply being just as we are. To embrace ourselves fully and engage with life and those around us fully. To open our mind and our heart and let it all in.
There is nothing special we need to do, no one in particular we need to show up as. We do what we are already doing and we continue to be as we already are. We aren’t waiting for life to get better or for ourselves to “improve” because life is amazing and awesome right now – and so are we!
Sometimes the most beneficial thing for us to do is to just be.
Even before participating in our town’s first annual Bare as You Dare naked bike ride through town yesterday I questioned whether to write about it here on my blog. I often ponder what to write about through the week but this was a little bit different. Ultimately it came down to a fear of stigma – fear of what people would think about me knowing I partook in this bike ride, fear of disapproval, fear of misperceptions and judgements – and since that’s not a skillful reason whatsoever to avoid doing something here we go!
The first naked bike ride, I read today in our local news, took place in Spain in 2004. Since then they have spread to cities all over the world. One of the biggest is the World Naked Bike Ride every year in Portland, OR, which drew around 9,000 people this year. Many of them started as a protest to big oil and promote bike riding. And of course different people participate for different reasons. Some people go to support and embrace differing body images, some go as a symbol to vehicular drivers that bike riding makes one vulnerable and to draw attention to sharing the road. Some people go to promote that nude isn’t lewd and some go to be free and exercise their right to free speech. And some, like me, go because it sounds fun!
Life is worth loving and appreciating and embracing while it is available to us. Please enjoy it – love it – live it – rejoice in its presence. One day we will pass on from this life and it will be too late to go back.
This moment, right now, this is it! The only moment to live and love is right now.
Many of us do not smile very much. We may find that we will offer a smile around others who smile but when left to our own devices we may not smile very often at all. Smiling is a practice that we all benefit from. To practice smiling is also to practice joy.
Red Rocks, Montana
Today I ventured out for a solo adventure and ended up at Red Rocks, up the Johnsrud Park Road off of highway 200. Along the way I checked out day use spots along the Blackfoot River, meandered around different rocky beaches, and took my time checking out new pockets of beauty.
Clark Fork River Saturday Market, Missoula, MT
Originally from the suburbs of Philadelphia I moved to western Montana in 1998 after my first year of college, which I attended right out of high school. While the east coast will always be my native homeland and have special meaning, as the place where I was born and raised, Montana’s where my heart is. Our humble university town of Missoula is a liberal oasis in our expansive Big Sky state. Summer in Missoula involves floating the rivers, hiking, biking, camping, berry picking, festivals, music, local foods, gardening, and our 3 weekly Saturday outdoor markets for produce, food, and arts & crafts. I love it here in Missoula and I am grateful for the opportunity to live here and call this home :)
Here’s a visual display of some of what I love about this area:
Last spring I did a self-propelled 21-day sitting meditation challenge. As the title suggests I sat everyday for 21-days in a row in hopes of establishing a pattern of sitting daily. And it worked! Its been over a year since then and I still continue to practice sitting meditation everyday, minus a day here and there.
Now, I would be remiss if I thought it was only the act of sitting for 21-days in a row that allowed me to finally start sitting everyday on my own. Although for some folks that may indeed be enough. Nothing exists by itself alone and I see clearly that all of my actions, practice, and intentions leading up to starting that challenge also factored in to a successful outcome.
I wanted to share a little meditation secret that I have a sense is not commonly known. OK, are you ready? Here it is: There will always be something else you could be doing besides sitting meditation (bills, phone calls, laundry, watching youtube, picking your nose…) so if you are wanting to start a daily practice you will have to do it even when you “know” you don’t have the time for it. Because the thing is, if you think you’re too busy to sit you’ll probably always be too busy to sit. The mind is very tricky that way. Life is life and will continue to be so. It isn’t life getting in the way of our practice, it’s us.