Serenity

Yesterday I met a friend at Tennessee Valley.  I was early so I placed a blanket under the trees and lay on my back looking up, listening to chirps, and feeling the breeze.

We met and walked in unprecedented heat to the beach.  98 degrees, I learned later. We like to walk and talk because as is said, Solvitur Ambulando.  “It is solved by walking”.

What is the “it” you might ask, and in this case, there was no it, just an opening to connect with ourselves, each other, and the landscape of which we’re part.

When we got to the ocean, we looked for shade, and found a little inlet, not a cave because it was open at the top but it allowed us to sit in the shade of the cliff.  The rock held water that dripped down my back.

When I mentioned still grieving my brother’s death, she asked what that felt like, and at first I thought of what I’d read, that grief is like waves, comes and goes like waves, but then I realized it was something more.  It was expansiveness.

I’m feeling my brother open me to something more, to spaciousness. It’s the cosmic joke perhaps, the huge laugh, and maybe that’s what the Big Bang was, and is, a giant “guffaw”. Who knows but I think we’re designed to laugh, as much as we can, even as we recognize happiness is helping others, because in helping others, we help ourselves because we are all One.  

Looking up at trees


Looking north from Tennessee Valley Beach


Looking south


Looking out from our protected and shaded spot



Serenity at the beach



Full Harvest Moon

Our days and nights are warm for now, the ripening before the dip to the shortest day and longest night, and then return to spring. We circle like the roundness of the moon as it shines in the sky tonight.

A friend shared this quote by Alan Watts with me, and I was reminded that he was a student of Charlotte Selver, my teacher of Sensory Awareness, and that they taught together, sometimes rejoicing in tossing sticks off his houseboat in Sausalito and watching them float with the tides. Excitement, joy, and fulfillment are everywhere.

“As it is, we are merely bolting our lives—gulping down undigested experiences as fast as we can stuff them in—because awareness of our own existence is so superficial and so narrow that nothing seems to us more boring than simple being. If I ask you what you did, saw, heard, smelled, touched and tasted yesterday, I am likely to get nothing more than the thin, sketchy outline of the few things that you noticed, and of those only what you thought worth remembering. Is it surprising that an existence so experienced seems so empty and bare that its hunger for an infinite future is insatiable? But suppose you could answer, “It would take me forever to tell you, and I am much too interested in what’s happening now.” How is it possible that a being with such sensitive jewels as the eyes, such enchanted musical instruments as the ears, and such a fabulous arabesque of nerves as the brain can experience itself as anything less than a god? And, when you consider that this incalculably subtle organism is inseparable from the still more marvelous patterns of its environment—from the minutest electrical designs to the whole company of the galaxies—how is it conceivable that this incarnation of all eternity can be bored with being?”

~ Alan Watts, The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

Enchantment – en chant meant




Sowing Sand

Today I drove early to Stinson Beach.  Other than the gulls, I was the only one there.

As I walked toward the water, it looked like the young gulls were in school.  Then, I noticed they were gathered around a structure, a creation, an artwork, gathered as though worshipping. Of course, school, properly inspired, is worship, the most important worship we do.

I was reminded of Burning Man but I thought these are gulls, and then, I realized the structure was a wing.  The feathers were palm fronds. I don’t know the intent of the gathering, but I imagine in gull world it equaled the one on the Playa.

The tide was low and I walked south past exposed rocks, noticing here and there, a lone gull, or a lone sandpiper.  Then, walking back, I saw people stumbling with loads of stuff to plop in their spot. It was time to go.

Gull wing worshipped on the beach
The ocean offers rhythm and blues
Gathered to view
Each one with a spot

Harvest

I love this time of year.  Yesterday I set up a meditation spot in this room, made it my perception of cozy and safe, and sat down at 5 today to meditate.  In June it would be light, an invitation to be out in the yard with plants, but today the dark was a cape, and slowly, the sky came to light.

Sitting quietly, eyes closed, lid meeting the ball of my eye, I had a sense of what it is to be a pumpkin in Autumn in the field, that final growing, and nurturing of inner space and seeds.  The question then becomes: Would I prefer to be a Jack-o-lantern, or made into a pie? It’s rare to be both as they are two different kinds of pumpkin, but, hey, it’s my meditation, so why not?  Oh, but we meditate for all beings, so I’m all kinds of pumpkin, and pumpkins are a variety of squash and so I expand out into the vegetable and mineral kingdom and beyond.

And there we have the power of meditation opening imagination, which brings empathy, compassion, and understanding to all our parts, especially the part in my case, which imagines my pureed pumpkin self mixed with sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, eggs, and cream to be placed in a crust to bake.  Okay, I’m far afield, far from my tangled vines and roots in the field.

Meditation complete, I rise to meet the sky, eyelids raised, and then, I open to this in Thich Nhat Hanh’s tiny book, How to Love.

Goodwill Is Not Enough

Your good intentions are not enough; you have to be artful. We may be filled with goodwill; we may be motivated by the desire to make the other person happy, but out of our clumsiness, we make them unhappy. Walking, eating, breathing, talking, and working are all opportunities to practice creating happiness inside and around you.  Mindful living is an art, and each of us has to train to be an artist.

I think of balance. The sky comes to light, untrained, and it’s a moving display, and I understand the human need for training.  We are primitive beings.

That’s why I meditate, and in this balancing, I am Jack-o-lantern and pie, field, sky, and light.

I harvest, harvested, in Autumn delight.  

Happy Harvest Moon Eve!

Bridging the parts in me



Choice

There’s a controversy around the origin of words often attributed to Viktor Frankl and certainly the message is his, but the language may have been modified over time.  The words are attributed to his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, though they aren’t found there.

Between stimulus and response, there is a space.

In that space lies our freedom and our power to choose our response.

In our response lies our growth and our happiness.

Through the work of Alexander Technique, I’m learning to “inhibit” the habit or first response, giving myself space and time to adjust and choose.  There is ease as environment and I know and honor our relationship as one.

Yesterday, in my seventh Alexander session, I was disappointed to feel fear in my jaw, knees, and hips, all three of which were more tightly gripped than I prefer.  Today I consider what was different in my day.

I’d been reading Obi Kaufman’s book on Water, and though he says he doesn’t want to lead us down a downward spiral when he discusses  “climate breakdown”, I felt myself caught in a drain of fear and panic, even though in this moment, all is calm. Water flows in and out of my home. I have power and plants, electrical power and plant power.

This brings me to a fascinating study on flowers and bees that shows that when flowers hear buzzing bees, they make their nectar sweeter.  Stimulus and response.

This allows me to feel how I need to monitor my intake of the “news” of the day. I need to notice what’s happening with my breathing, and the space and spaces in torso, head, and legs.

I notice, give space.

Am I contracting even when there is no need to protect? Is there sourness, bitterness, anger, and/or fear? Can I give space to response, without judgment of right or wrong?

When I do, I intake what brings and produces joy, ripples ensue; my jaw is relaxed; my saliva is sweet.

My knees turn out with a curtsied bend that hurrahs, “Ta Da!”

Ta Da, I’m here, gloriously here, delightfully alive in joy-filled response.”

So, rather than the force being with you, which might lead to a battle within, and another without, may your saliva be sweet, and your knees soft streams fulfilling sweet dreams.

Flowers soften and nestle rock
Plum sweetened trees


Held

Morning comes, a blend of color, soft, gentle strokes I feel inside.  I meditate with intention for compassion, begin with myself, open to the world, like a flower in light, and then, moisture comes like a tide, filling that place of tenderness, that place where joy and sorrow meet, held.

The Maori word for Autism is “Takiwatanga”.  It means “in his/her own time and space”.  

I want that for each of us, each of us, “our own time and space”.  

A dog or cat prepares their bed before they settle.  A dog may circle; a cat may knead. Each makes their place of rest just right for them, a place to receive and be received.

I lean in now to invite that place of rest, circle torso and spine, prepare the ground of my being, as I knead the stream of air moving in and out. I trust this moment, this balance of movement and stillness, this moment of knowing enough.

Rocks and Stream held, connecting, moving and still



Streaming

It occurs to me now that the word “streaming” has a different meaning than it once did, but I return to the original meaning of sitting by a stream, and listening, and being moved by rhythm and sounds.

As Carl Perkins said, If it weren’t for the rocks in its bed, the stream would have no song, and sitting, sauntering, and exploring yesterday, I heard a multitude of songs.  The wind sang, too, and the falling leaves, each one twirling like a butterfly in a slow and languid descent.

I took Obi Kaufman’s advice and drove four miles to Cascade Canyon and walked up to Cascade Falls.  A picture can’t capture Mother Earth’s flow but perhaps some of the photos capture the light on the stream. I can’t share the smells of autumn oaks and bays but again imagine an inhalation so deep, there is no beginning and end, only connection that circles a whole.

There are also Three Wells where I used to take my children to dip and swim in summer. All is quiet now, this harvest time of year.

The lower part of the stream in autumn, a gentle slip

One of the wells in which to drop

Walk with me

Wisdom rises in Redwood Tree Trunks

Cascade Falls

Surrender and flow


Mother Earth offers her gifts

Frog rock praying

A slow caress to join the bay


Human Ingenuity at Malugani Tires