Rallying

On Saturday, despite the fact that we haven’t seen a decent rain in weeks and our forests are on high fire alert, I lost all perspective when it came to my boots steadily filling with water. All I was concerned about was keeping my two tires on the slick roadway and having enough visibility through the rain patterns on my visor to see where I was going, which was hopefully to a place warm and dry.

In those wet, tentative moments on the bike – raindrops pelting my face and lips like needles – I had to marshal an inner strength to help me ride. I had to drum up some extra fortitude and focus on the small gratitudes, so as not to be ruled by fear and misery.

And it helped that I knew that the rain would pass. It always does. I knew my sodden clothes would dry and I would at some point get warm again. This is the way of things. Nothing lasts forever. So I held firm to those inevitabilities. I rallied. From a place within that always exists. I rallied because I had to. I rallied because I could.

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Present Moment, Wonderful (Rainy) Moment

Weather photo from the Missoulian from Sept. 3rd. By Carson C., 10 years old. (I'm pretty sure the words on the right say Noodles Express :)

Weather pic from the Missoulian by 10 year old Carson C. – the words on the right say Noodles Express :)

Yesterday morning I woke up at 4:00am to the wonderful sound of rain outside.  Situated here in the Rocky Mountains we’ve been in the midst of a very active fire season this year, along with our northwestern neighbors of Idaho and Washington.  While fire season is nothing new around these parts I was reading in the news that the severity of our air quality has been the most troublesome its been in over 10 years.  And, the article noted, fire season isn’t over for us yet.  We got a little reprieve from our dry, smokey conditions by getting some much needed rain yesterday, with lower than average temperatures rolling in.

I had such a lovely morning yesterday – listening to the rain, sipping tea, and starting a new book I was eager to read.  My living room window was open and the cool, dark morning air sifted in along with the sweet sound of the rain.  I opened the front door and the rich fragrance of wet earth was simply amazing.  On Wednesday I had stopped to smell some beautiful roses whose scent was similar in nature – incredible beyond words.  Breathing in deeply the perfumed morning air yesterday a thought arose, Never before have I inhaled such a wonderful aromatic bouquet!   And then I remembered thinking the same thing about the roses from the day before.  One of the things I most appreciate about having a mindfulness practice is the power to transform everyday situations into precious moments – where every rose and rainstorm have the ability to be the best smelling rose and rainstorm ever.  I am so grateful for being in touch with a practice whose foundation is that each present moment has the capacity to be the most wonderful moment.

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The Quality of our Steps

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Currently I am house sitting for a good friend of mine for the whole month of September.  I’m also taking care of her two dogs, of which I have a daily walking regiment around the neighborhood with.  How wonderful it is to get outside and walk and take the time to get in touch with beauty and gratitude!  I don’t have dogs myself so I’m not used to walking simply for the sake of walking.  I would highly recommend it.

Today I found the first autumn leaf on the ground a few blocks away (see pic above).  While we were walking the sky was filled with blues and grays as the sun was popping in and out of the clouds.  We passed by incredibly beautiful full leafed green trees, large ink black crows, sweet faced children, and abodes of all different kinds with flowers and herbs and cats and bikes in the yard.  I could smell the hint of the rain that had just fallen melting into the earth and roots.  And for a few moments I saw a small portion of a rainbow set against the mountains.

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If Only we Could All Enjoy Ourselves More. Oh Right, We Can!

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I put together a spring yard sale and today spent from 7:00am-4:00pm at our local mindfulness center selling everything from clothes to books and from vacuum cleaners (of which we had 4!) to toys.  With so many different classes that happen at the center and two weekly sanghas we get a lot of stuff donated when we put together these collective mindfulness center yard sales.  It’s a great way for folks to donate to the center and for us to earn some extra income (since our center runs almost entirely on donations).  And I’m all for anything that helps keep stuff in the reuse, recycle loop.

The weather was slated for rain so I set up a few pop up style canopies to put everything under.  I rustled up a few volunteers to help with set up in the morning, sales throughout the day, and the tear down/pack up at the end of the sale around 3:30 this afternoon.  Our mindfulness center is situated on an active corner of a nicely frequented road just outside of the university area so all we need to do is start setting stuff up outside and voila, we have ourselves an instant marketplace!

Now, the reason I am bringing up this yard sale on my mindfulness practice blog here is to talk about the effort, demonstration, and sheer awesomeness of cultivating joy and happiness in our daily life.  Throughout the day I was aware of the intentional diligent effort that I was putting into the practice of feeling good.  And I was also aware of what seemed to be a shared collective practice of perpetuating the art of not feeling good.  One of the greatest fruits I have found in cultivating joy is that when surrounded by what could be viewed as negativity, worry, stress, upset or insecurity, I have the ability to stay grounded in my own experience and not get carried away by others emotions.

As mentioned, today was rainy.  The mountains sat cool and soggy under beautiful gray bellied clouds and the rain sprinkled on and off gently, dropping at times from the greening leaves onto my glasses, in between outbursts of the spring sun.  I enjoyed the rain, the clouds, the sound of splashing puddles as cars drove by.  I enjoyed sorting, rummaging through, and displaying all of our wares.  I enjoyed talking with people who stopped by on foot, bike, and car.  But from some of the comments and questions I received, and at times as I gathered from tones of voice and body language, it did not seem that there were many others who were enjoying the day.  It is important to note here that while perceptions can feel very solid and real and true they are in many and most cases incorrect, a fabrication of our own making.  So I am aware that while certain individuals may have seemed unhappy my brief interaction with them is but a small drop of awareness in the ocean of their life.  What do I know?  Nothing!

And at the same time we can all pick up on levels of unease, whatever its cause.  It does not take a neuro-pyschologist to see when someone is not feeling well in some capacity.  The prolonged absence of a smile, the slumped over shoulders of a standing posture, a short quickened dull tone of voice, or a sullen facial expression are in many cases indicators of un-wellness.  And of course there is our verbal exchanges that speak volumes as to our internal weather.  Today I heard many comments that were streaked with negativity, about the rain and more.  I took notice of how much time people spent worrying and being filled with anxiety about things that were not in their control.  How much precious time is wasted, thrown away, and unproductively consumed by self-inflicted suffering.  The worries and anxiety I’m referring to are not large scale situations but rather smaller everyday, easy to overlook, and under value type occurrences.

We worry, a lot.  We are stressed out and filled with anxiety, a lot.  We think and speak in a negative fashion, a lot.  Turning towards joy is possible.  We need to practice joy everyday so that we get more skilled.  So that we are able to handle difficulties with more ease when they arrive.  So that we are able to connect fully with life right here in this moment.  And so that we are able to water the seeds of joy in others.  Mindfulness is a practice to be infused into all of the small pockets of our day.

With this practice we have the opportunity, the ability, and the pleasure of embracing the day with eyes of gratitude, love, and joy.  Let us open our eyes to the possibility of feeling good today!