I have never known anyone who felt self important in the morning after spending a night on an Idaho mountainside under a star studded summer sky. Frank Church
These words sum up time away in Idaho with my family. Throughout the week, amidst the mountains, beside the glacial lakes and flowing rivers, I am continually reminded of being a part of something larger. I soak up the moments of self-preoccupations fading into the background as the mystery and aliveness of the universe flood forward. Wonder, awe and humility are welcome visitors. In daily life, it is easy and human to get snagged by our stories, our plans and agendas, history and anticipation. The stories are not the problem, it is our fixation (for some even addiction) to them that creates a heaviness in life.
Amidst nature, for a time life falls into place and perspective. The self takes up a little less mental bandwidth, making room for the many things that otherwise go unnoticed, unseen and unheard.
I return home with my self in tact. In fact, we need it to function in the world, but today it feels lighter and more porous, available and open to life. I am thankful for the time to be away and to be humbled, at the same time uplifted by the earth and the sky in all of its grandeur and brought back down, grounded and at home.
I’ve returned from time away with my family in the Caribbean and the spacious and restful quality of vacation seems to be lingering forward even as work begins, laundry piles up and dishes need to be emptied from the dishwasher. It is an interesting paradox to experience. I return to life pretty much as it was, yet it all feels slightly different.
There is a zen saying, “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water”. I am not claiming enlightenment, but I do feel more spacious in myself and my experience. Awakening or enlightenment can arise in varied degrees, but I feel it is much more subtle than we otherwise might imagine it to be. It is not always some grand and blissful experience. Often it may be a more subtle enlivening of that which is ordinary. In fact, the simple things that we miss can come alive in extraordinary ways … the breath, the wind and, yes, even the everyday mundane task of unloading the dryer and folding the laundry. There is space for it all. Enlightenment is simply feeling a little (or more) lighter in our experience. There is room for it to come and go without the constant and habitual identification and controlling.
So as I return, and life chores need attending and my girls continue to play and fight fiercely at times, there is this quality of allowing life to be as it is. And even when the dialogue arises, “I wish my girls would quiet down” or “I’m tired of the laundry”, these thoughts can come and go as well.
Everything is the same and everything is different. Life is still ordinary, and simultaneously precious and extraordinary.
Marcel Proust describes my feeling well. “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
While the spaciousness and freshness may subside into the background at any moment, I am thankful for it now and trust it is always here waiting.
I am happy to share that I have started offering guided meditations/yoga nidra on the Insight Timer app.
This is one of the first apps I started using many years ago as I began exploring meditation. I feel fortunate that I can now also share the beauty this practice with a wider audience through this platform. I will continue to post meditations both here on this site and on Insight Timer as well.
The app has many benefits in that you can use its simple timer feature to time your meditation, check the statistics on frequency of practice, journal your experience and access many of the free guided meditations from teachers around the globe. There is still a free download available for this application.
If you are interested, here is the link to what I have shared.
After a long respite, I am sharing with you a new 23 minute guided meditation. In this practice, we take time to feel into both the objects within our experience, and to rest in the space through which these objects come and go. The objects may be the sounds in our environment, the sensations and breath in our body or the passing of emotions and dialogues. Often the objects obscure the spaciousness that is eternally here now, very much like the clouds that obscure the vastness of the sky. We are the finite parts within an infinite and vast essence. In practice and life we find ourselves in a dance between the two.
You may choose to practice in any posture that allows you to feel at ease, seated on the floor, in a chair or even reclining. There is no right or wrong way for practice to unfold so enjoy and savor the time to slow down and deepen.
I am happy to share that I am partnering with local Austin teacher, Karlie Lemos, to offer a weeklong yoga and meditation retreat in Tulum, Mexico in March of 2018. This time will be an opportunity to slow down, simplify and restore. As we take time to fall away from the busyness of our lives and the drive of our roles and responsibilities, we can begin to retreat within, nourish and gently align with our heart’s calling.
We have chosen a retreat space that rests directly on the shores of Tulum and will be private, limited to a small group of about sixteen. We hope this combination will allow for nourishment, warmth of community and nature. We will offer daily practices that will include meditation, deep relaxation (yoga nidra) and all levels yoga asana. You can set your agenda or have none at all , allowing the moment to guide and nourish you.
I am grateful to offer this experience alongside Karlie. If this resonates with what your heart has been calling for, I would love for you to join us.
A third of these spots have been reserved and a $300 discount will continue to be offered for a limited time. Below is the link for more detailed information on the retreat.