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




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



Nature

Life is the art of drawing without an eraser. – John W. Gardner

I wake to the sound of jays, not roosters,  announcing the day. Last night the moon was a blaze, and she will get brighter and brighter until the Harvest Moon on Friday the  13th.

Yesterday I saw Obi Kaufman speak.  It was like being in the presence of a young John Muir.  If he doesn’t walk/hike 100 miles a week, specifically in CA backcountry,  he gets depressed. He arrived outfitted in hat, jeans, and hiking boots.

I love his book The California Field Atlas. His latest is The State of Water. It’s smaller, more focused, and more accessible to all ages, specifically the youngsters we need to reach.  His plan is to write a book on each of the elements, says we humans are fire, and yes, we know the positives and negatives of fire.

He says we should call it “climate breakdown” as there’s always been change but this is a breakdown.  On the other hand, it’s not to panic, but to work with ourselves first, to bring ourselves to unity and peace. We are being divided by those who benefit financially from division and fear.  Before we can address the environmental issues of the day, we need to address ourselves, as we too, are the natural world.

Therefore, find a stream, take your shoes off, and dip in to quiet, to the sounds and songs of birds, water, and trees.  

The following is from his article “How to Get the Most Of Your Time Outside” from Sunset Magazine’s article WILD GIFTS.

First, get out of your car.   “The more you look, the more there is. Nature is magic like that.”

Second, read a book.  “Books are trails that uncover the nature of thought itself.”  He lists authors to read.

Third, watch for patterns. “Widen the lens, investigate larger trends in the ecology around you.”

Fourth, join a Land Trust.  Volunteer on a piece of land that matters to you.

The fifth comes first though. Don’t panic and add fear to the already frenetic energy of the world. Several times a day, rest in nature, your own nature, shoes off, breathing deeply.  Recognize and honor that we ourselves are the natural world.  

His website is here: https://coyoteandthunder.com

My mantra lately is this haiku by Issa.  It allows me to slow, receive, and taste, each moment divided into petals even as it’s held in a bouquet.

This morning I rose, received the touch of feet meeting floor. When I slipped off my nightie, then allowed a blouse to flow over my head, shoulders, and arms, I was showered with bliss, and now I wear a magisterial cape. I am a law unto myself. I know how to live and integrate. I float, carried, a cricket, singing.


On a branch

floating downriver

a cricket, singing

Kobayashi Issa 

The tides flow in and out of the bay


Trust

I woke from a dream of sitting on the sand, then, walking into the ocean, and standing there until the tide came in and floated away my shoes.  With no shoes, I walked on rocks, exhilarated and soothed by natural stimulation, reflexology, a balance of shifting pleasure and pain.

I remembered being in a park in Hong Kong set up for barefoot walking on different surfaces and textures.  Walking there is meditation and a treat for the feet. I have a rug made up of river rocks and I love to stand on it and lift my feet up and down, moments of awakening, captured and set loose in a pause.

The baby shower yesterday was touching and sweet.  We spoke of how simple childbirth is in one way in that billions of us humans are here, and yet each one seems like a miracle, each of us a miracle.

I’m reminded of the words of Pablo Casals.

“The CHILD must know that he is a MIRACLE, that since the beginning of the world there hasn’t been, and until the end of the world will not be, another child like him.” 

And each of us is that child.

I was awake early this morning, still dark, and with my two kitties we watched the world come to light.  Wind blew through in the night, and pine needles are scattered like pick-up sticks all over the decks.

The light is soft with Autumn threading through.

Yesterday I was with people some of whom didn’t know of my brother’s death.  Speaking of it, sharing it, showed me that the wound is still fresh, and maybe it’s also a gathering of family and friends that touches the awareness of impermanence, the fragility and preciousness of life here.

I returned home to these words of Thich Nhat Hanh from his book “No Death, No Fear.” Reading his response to the death of his mother, I was turned on a lathe of understanding, moved to refresh my clay.

The day my mother died I wrote in my journal, “A serious misfortune of my life has arrived.” I suffered for more than one year after the passing away of my mother. But one night, in the highlands of Vietnam, I was sleeping in the hut in my hermitage. I dreamed of my mother. I saw myself sitting with her, and we were having a wonderful talk. She looked young and beautiful, her hair flowing down. It was so pleasant to sit there and talk to her as if she had never died. When I woke up it was about two in the morning, and I felt very strongly that I had never lost my mother. The impression that my mother was still with me was very clear. I understood then that the idea of having lost my mother was just an idea. It was obvious in that moment that my mother is always alive in me.

I opened the door and went outside. The entire hillside was bathed in moonlight. It was a hill covered with tea plants, and my hut was set behind the temple halfway up. Walking slowly in the moonlight through the rows of tea plants, I noticed my mother was still with me. She was the moonlight caressing me as she had done so often, very tender, very sweet… wonderful! Each time my feet touched the earth I knew my mother was there with me. I knew this body was not mine but a living continuation of my mother and my father and my grandparents and great-grandparents. Of all my ancestors. Those feet that I saw as “my” feet were actually “our” feet. Together, my mother and I were leaving footprints in the damp soil.

From that moment on, the idea that I had lost my mother no longer existed. All I had to do was look at the palm of my hand, feel the breeze on my face or the earth under my feet to remember that my mother is always with me, available at any time.

Surrendering, I remember my family members who’ve passed are always with me, available at any time, like hands and feet.

Holding hands with rock and sand

Beginnings

This morning I woke feeling like a Sea Star, awareness of my torso reaching out through hands, feet, and head, all equally important, all equally renewing and exploring.

Today I go to Menlo Park for a baby shower for my on approach grandchild.  It’s said that the grandmother’s hormones change while the baby is in the womb.  I feel that could be true. Yesterday at the grocery store I saw a beautiful, creamy hunk of gruyere cheese.  I think of gruyere cheese for fondue but I wanted that cheese and that’s all I wanted for dinner – hunks and hunks of gruyere cheese.

That feels a little weird to share but I’m feeling myself as a womb spreading out like a Sea Star, stomach reaching out to ingest what’s here – all children – species – connection, oneness, all gathered together, near and far – 

I’m in and out, Sea Star aware