"What's this, what's this, these white balls on the ground...", this seemed to be what Sparky, the silky terrier was thinking. As we started out on our early morning walk he was fascinated by the frozen little orbs of hail. He nuzzled them with his snout, barked at them, sniffed them, licked them. His curiosity is so fresh. At first, i was wondering who had broken up styrofoam outside my window. Then i realized, hail. With the word, hail i was ready to neatly categorize and tuck away the experience of been, here, done that until i was inspired by Sparky's fascination.
This is a little of what i gleaned from the wonderful, world wide web.
Hail is precipitation in the form of spherical or irregular pellets. Hail is birthed from a frozen raindrop that is prevented from falling by updrafts in a cumulonimbus cloud. Each time they are pushed into the cold upper layers of the cloud they collide with supercooled water droplets which continue to layer the hailstone until it becomes too heavy and it falls to earth. Hailstones can grow as large as a softball and fall as fast as a 180kph per hour. Hail is just one existence in the mysterious and wonderful life journey of water.
Mostly, what i learned today from Sparky, was that cultivating the curiosity of beginner's eyes, i can just be. In this "be-ing" each moment is free to have infinite possibilities. Without applying the mind's constraints of "knowing" there is a quality of mystery and joy all ways.
The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.
The unnamable is the externally real.
Naming is the origin
of all particular things.
Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.
Yet mystery and manifestations
arise from the same source.
This source is called darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gateway to all understanding.
Thoughts on chapter one.
From the very first line we are being reminded that we must go beyond the labels we know as words. To understand the Tao (the Way) we must embody it using the words as symbols by garnishing understanding on a deeper level of being. For me, the Way means living in accordance with our true nature, who we really are. It is moving from thought (philosophy) beyond doing (experience) to being (knowing). Knowing can never truly be worded, words can only allude that which is wordless.
Freedom from desire, to me, expresses the antidote to suffering. The discriminating mind, the mind that lives by good and bad identifies itself by clinging to that which it desires and averting that which is not what is desired. This constantly swinging pendulum of likes and dislikes seems to be the root of all suffering. So how to do we begin to if not end our suffering at least begin to recognize it? Learning to accept the "isness"of our experience with the external world we can see that what is is what is. Then we can begin to have a choice on how we respond to the "goings on" and perhaps begin to cultivate an emotional freedom from reacting to the "stuff" of the reality of a material existence. We don't need all the answers, we can cultivate a spaciousness of being with what is. If from our heart we can truly say, "I don't know" we come closer to realizing the mystery of life and the wonder and miracle of living in a body. We can "know" that not only are we from "source" (or energy or awareness or fill in the blank) but that we are "source".
This morning, the flight or fight response took a stand. Here's what happened. Upon deciding to gather up receipts for filing last year's taxes, i discovered that in my ultra tidiness, i had recycled a whole envelope of receipts. A surge of hormones including adrenaline and cortisol flooded my body. My instant response, the feeling of panic, was accompanied by the action of turning drawers and cupboards upside down in a futile effort to "find" the missing receipts. (Panic, translated in the ego's black and white understanding of the world, means a "life or death" situation.)
Then the egoic mind caustically reminded me of the keys i had lost on Monday and as it was starting to list all the "bad me" components, i momentarily came to my senses. "Okay" i thought, "i'll just stop this search and make breakfast." It takes about a half hour to "calm" down from the surge of the stress hormones and i thought something as simple as food prep would help. As i prepared breakfast, i burned the toast and then overcooked the yolk of my poached egg. The pesky ego interjected, "See you can't do anything right."
Now this is where the rubber meets the road, where the practice of consciousness and mindfulness meet the toxic chemical soup of stress. i took a couple deep breaths, brought my awareness to the situation and why the body was feeling as it was and how the mind jumped into this stress loop. And how, until i settled down, my experiences would continue to reinforce that residual lingering core belief of "not good enough". i needed to remind myself i was perceiving these normally small mistakes as signs of major character defects because i was experiencing the events through the stress chemicals.
As an aside, reliving past stressful events can prompt the body and mind to behave as if the stress is happening in the present moment. As i write this i am bringing awareness to the idea that i am just telling a story. i am watching my breath, monitoring my body for "uptightness" and reminding myself that i am using this telling to imprint a new level of awareness.
Having a hot bath, for me, is a great, natural calming remedy. So, running the bath, i continued to take deep breaths. With these breaths, i started to think a little clearer. This clarity allowed me to rationalize that likely i could get duplicates for most of the major receipts. So, i sent out a couple of e-mails explaining the situation and requesting replacements.
At this point, i haven't even gotten into the hot bath. Bringing awareness to what was happening to my body and mind and why and then taking deep breaths were helping to wind down. When i got in the hot bath, i slid down in the tub. As Donna Eden on her Energy Medicine CD suggested I placed "the thumbs on the temples, pads of fingers on the forehead above the eyes and softly and gently held this position." This "energycise" helps bring the blood back to the forebrain. In flight or fight, blood is sent to the extremities to prepare for action.
As i write this, i'm thinking this relatively small thing in the scheme of things is just small potatoes in a big potato patch. It very clearly demonstrated how "some thing" external can (in retrospect) initiate a chain of reactivity with reinforcing stress built in to each link. This incident gave me the opportunity to experience the knowledge i have been collecting and thinking about in an experential way.
Learning to turn sour into sweet is about consciousness raising. i can now acknowledge myself for becoming "aware" and taking the conscious steps to prevent a full catastrophe. i'm curious to see what happens the next time fight or flight asks for a dance. i deeply bow to all my teachers for being sparks in this evolution.
Two highly recommended reads are the just released book by Dr. Joe Dispenza, "Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself".
And the wonderful timeless "Full Catastrophe Living" by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph. D.
Lorna Roberta Boulter (Dyck) October 15, 1930 - December 7, 1975
Today, in my puttering around, i discovered a picture of my Mom. Not like it wasn't there all the time, pretty much in plain view, save for opening up the lid of a treasure box. I say discovered because perhaps i wasn't ready to acknowledge that her life wasn't just the deep sadness that resulted in her young death. And that most likely i've been focusing on the events that led up to the ending of her own life rather then the beautiful life she did live.
So here she is, hamming it up. This was taken in our main bathroom, in early 1975. What i am remembering about her is that big, open smile, the compassionate loving eyes. She did exude a great joy of life along with love, kindness and care for those around her. At the time of her death, she was the head nurse in the maternity ward at the Prince Rupert General Hospital. I know she was loved and cherished by her colleagues. She loved babies and birthing moms.
Through these eyes, i see the woman who gave birth to me. Her death has been both an inspiration and guiding force in my life and at the same time a source of sadness and loss. Even though the physical body is gone, i know she is always with me. I see her in my sister and brother, my children and grand daughter. And she is always here in my heart.
Having spent much of life go, go, going and do, do doing, this feeling or sense of the last few weeks has eluded me. What’s happening the ego asks and then labels “sadness”; this being is sad, depressed. Then last evening sitting in meditation, there was a recognition below the surface, even beyond words, although it will need to be worded to share, that what was being experienced was “emptiness”. With curiosity and continuing to sit with it, i investigate this “emptiness”.
To say what it is, i will start with what it is not. It is not a feeling of hopelessness, apathy or lack or purposelessness or, perhaps at this moment, even fear. It does not feel like a gasping for understanding. This emptiness really is, and again using words i will attempt to flavor this experience, simply not knowing. It is a sense of “i don’t know” strongly augmented with a feeling of spaciousness. Still sitting, consciousness focused inward, empty of expectation, curiosity feels further. As Jon Kabat Zinn describes, like sneaking up on a small animal in the forest, lying behind a log.
It is an invitation to just be with what is, effortless effort. What is deeper then the i don’t know”, the “emptiness”? There is a sense of “all is well”. Exploring deeper, a fearlessness, nods to me, beckons me. And, if i were to anthropomorphize this, it as a wordless sense of “come sit with me, lovingly hold this “emptiness” in your heart with no expectation of answer or resolve”. i don’t even know what the question is.
Sitting still, eyes open, glance out the window, drops of water splash down from a gutter on to wooden lattice. At first, drop shaped, defined as each, they bounce, becoming smaller droplets then spraying away from the centre of impact. A tear wells up, trickles down my cheek and splashes into my lap. The cry of a seagull punctuates the moment.
Listening today, for the second time in two days, to Mark Nepo speaking with Tami Simon on Sounds True: Insights At The Edge, in "Holding Nothing Back".
With the flavour of this heartfelt talk resonating through my being, i thought i would explore the nature of "Beginner's Heart".
i think of Gangaji's words "...so usual and so tragic that to avoid a broken heart, people live in a state of broken heartedness..."
Taking a risk to turn and face the possibility of a broken heart arises from that place inside us before the time the heart was first broken. Facing that risk takes courage; courage is always a breath away from fear. It's the courage to love even when past heartbreaks moan of the risk and glumly predict future heartbreak.
Yet the treasure of living fully in and from the heart is infinitely vaster then the ego's paltry fear of a broken heart. For there within the open heart we discover that which is and was always there ~ stillness ~ that vast presence in which all arises and is at the same time all.
In letting the heart break open we find compassion and passion, the very essence of our true nature. Mark Nepo said, "Every crack from the inside is an opening from the outside." It is a call not to squander our precious life living out of integrity, reacting with words and actions that ripple out damaging rather then healing those around us.
The Beatles sang, "All you need is love." There is no simpler truth then that.
Truly turning inward, experiencing the heart through tears and smiles, we "know" it's true.
Perhaps the fox in the Antoine de Saint-Exupery's "The Little Prince" points us in the right direction when he says, "And now here is my secret, a very simple secret; it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye."
To listen to Mark Nepo's heart opening conversation click:
Thursday mornings are always a delight here on Faithful Street. This is the day, when my food box is delivered. It's been about three month's since ordering this wonderful service from Nature's Farmacy, www.naturesfarmacy.ca
Let me paint you a word picture. Every Wednesday night, i place the beautiful wooden box supplied by Nature's Farmacy by my front door. Around 6:00 a.m. Thursday morning, last week's box is replaced by this week's bounty. Nature's Farmacy sources locally for veggies, fruits, eggs and bread. In the winter time, fruit needs to travel a little further.
Today's box featured 6 brown organic eggs and a fresh loaf of gluten free bread so tasty it reminds me of a healthy, not so sweet cake. For veggies, a lovely purply-red cabbage, a bright green head of broccolette, pea sprouts and a leek. A special delight to my eyes was a mixed bag of lettuce. For fruit, one avacado, a Valencia orange, a D'anjou pear and an Edward Honeyblush mango.
The total for the order which breaks down to $15.00 vegies, $5.00 fruit and the eggs and bread delivered to the door is $29.25. (Depending on the number of mouths in your home, you choose the amount you want.) My purchase goes to supporting and encouraging local farmers to continue to nurture fine organic produce.
Plus weekly, delivered by e-mail, is a newsletter called: The Harry Truth with the subheading of Fostering Education, Not Medication. The newsletter features health information and cooking tips. This week's was particularly elucidating on the nasty ingredients contained in make-up and body care products.
I highly recommend the efficient, personal care provided by this wonderful local company operating under the principles of the Harold Foster Foundation.
I hope I've piqued your appetite. But don't just believe me, check out www.naturesfarmacy.ca for yourself.
I'm loving local healthy food; local farmers get to earn a living. Best of all, I get to play a part in a co-operative, sustainable solution.
Watching "Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream" on Gaiam TV yesterday reminded me of how imperative it is to wake up from this illusion of separateness. This collective nightmare socially permeated our world with the industrial age and the belief that we can be understood in a mechanistic way.
We dissected the world and then began to believe with an egoic sense of superiority that the human species was separate and above all. With this critical mistake in thinking we began to treat the planet and all living species as an unending resource. As a result we all suffer.
Now, we not only feel but are truly beginning to "know" that this is not true. Our every action and inaction ripples outward and inward affecting all. This collective behaviour is not a "flaw" in human beings it is simply a mistake. With awareness of the mistake and then with attention and correction of the mistake by our choices and our behaviours we have the awesome opportunity and responsibility to begin to live in a way that honours all as one on this beautiful blue-green planet. We are blessed to be living in the time of a global shift in consciousness.
Share the collective vision of "bringing forth an Environmentally Sustainable, Spiritually Fulfilling, Socially Just human presence on this planet." Wake up to find out that not only are we the eyes of the world, we are the world.