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Posts tagged ‘living’

Living into Dying

I have had the gift and privilege of sitting beside a friend who is in the process of dying.  Even saying the word is hard at times.  Sometimes I soften the language by saying “passing away”, almost like a cloud passing in the sky.  Dying and death has so much more of a finality to it, at least in this physical realm.  But still it is the straight truth.

Conversations at this precipice of life and death are unabashedly Real.  We sit and meet each other Being to Being.  When the body and personality are in the processing of going, they naturally soften into the background.  Here the foreground is spacious, and we can feel and share how the personal and transient currents arise and fall away.  They carry less of a good or bad.  It is very much like Rumi describes, “the field beyond wrongdoing and rightdoing”.  Everything just is.  Judgements soften, and intimacy and trust deepen.  

For me it has been a season of witnessing the tenderness of humanity, the fragility of the physical body, and the immensity of Spirit/Essence that is so large that it moves through me like the ocean itself.

Love and ease to my friend as this journey continues within and beyond the body.



Unexpected moments of connection.

Climbing up and down Mt. Bonnell has become a bit of a weekly pilgrimage for me.  Often I am not alone.  I am joined by others who walk in silence.  Though, on many occasions, only a glance or a smile is exchanged, an unspoken, yet palpable feeling of community is created; a community of solitudes, as Parker Palmer might describe.  I feel not only bathed by the environment, but also by the focus, persistence and humanity of those walking alongside me.

Today, there were four of us at Mt. Bonnell.  I saw a man I have seen a few times.  He was quite old and frail looking, but nonetheless had two canes in hand and began his climb up and down.  His legs were thin, his glasses thick.  His demeanor felt kind.  I glanced a time or two as I passed him and the others.  Finally, I stopped.  “You are very inspiring, sir”.  He lifted his glance from the steps to look up at me.  He said, “Hold on a moment”, as he stopped the timer on his watch.  As our eyes met, I again said, “You are very inspiring”.  He said thank you and shared that he was eighty years old and enjoyed coming to Mt. Bonnell.  It made him feel good.  We shared our names and he offered his business card.  Beneath his full name it stated, Retired Engineer.  I told him that I used to be an engineer too.  He laughed sweetly and asked “Used to? Once an engineer, always an engineer”.  I smiled back.  I told him that I teach meditation now and he asked if it was an indian thing.  I explained a little.  He told me that he felt more comfortable coming to Mt. Bonnell than walking in his neighborhood, where he had taken a bad fall over his rolling walker four years ago; so bad in fact that he remembers it vividly.  The railing at Mt. Bonnell felt more stable and secure to him.  He also shared that on occasion he runs on a treadmill with straps at the therapy place he goes to, but they won’t let him run as fast as he would like.  He shared and shared, and I felt nothing but joy in listening to this sweet soul.  We eventually continued on our own walks, but I told him that I hoped to see him again.

During the course of our conversation, the other two people who had been walking up and down noticed.  What happened next was beautiful.  As I walked down the steps, I heard the other middle aged man talking to Dixon.  As he passed me, he said, “what a cool guy”.  I agreed.  As I walked further, I saw the other lady now walking alongside Dixon and talking with him.  Just like that, our sweet community of solitudes had become a little more connected, our circle a little smaller.  I can’t say for sure, but I think each of us was profoundly inspired by Dixon.  I know I was and I am so grateful to be graced by his presence.


Percolating Spaces

This week I’ve been reflecting on the space between things.

The space between the clouds, between you and me.

The momentary space between two breaths, two thoughts…  even two doings, where we have completed one task and the impulse to begin the next has not yet arisen.

How often do we take time to nourish and rest in these spaces that percolate all of life?



To be intimate is to feel the silence, the space that everything is happening in.


Practicing Kindly.

The beginning of the school year is  like new years to me as I take time to reassess my own and my family’s intentions, state of being and our path going forward.  For the last few months, I have been more gentle with my morning routine.  Instead of waking up early to devote more time to meditation, I have chosen to do less.  I had been feeling that my body and mind were needing sleep and rest, more than more practice.  A longer morning meditation didn’t make sense if I was only going to find myself physically and emotionally depleted later in the day.  So for some months, my daily practice has ranged between five and twenty minutes.  On the days that this was not within reach, meditation found me in minutes or even moments later in the day.

I have learned that we all experience changing rhythms throughout the year and our lifetime.  It has felt right to honor these rhythms and fluctuations, rather than reject them or force something different too quickly.  A little kindness and rest has felt nourishing and, thankfully, it came without the added guilt of “I should be practicing more”.  I share this especially because it is important for practitioners to know it is okay to take care of yourself.  In fact, the ground of practice is self-care and self-compassion.  The amount of time you practice is not as important as how you practice and the impact it is having on your life.

As the school year begins, I am now ready to reestablish an earlier morning routine and more time for meditation.  I feel refreshed in both my motivation and interest.

If this feels relevant to you, perhaps consider a similar reflection.  How much do you do because you think it is what you should be doing?  Is it nourishing you?  As a result, do you feel resilient to changing life circumstances and relationships or easily stuck or caught in the response or reactivity to them?  Or perhaps, has there been a growing sense of laxity?  And what is the underlying need or message in either case?  What intentions will help you feel balanced and nourished going forward?  And most of all, what works for your life today?  This could be very different from what has worked in the past or what you wish would work now.  Practice is not another way to feel bad about yourself.  Instead, it is a way to have honest reflections and a gentle flexibility to the ever-changing currents of life.



Faith Reinspired.

This past week I was fortunate to assist an iRest® Yoga Nidra training.  If those words don’t mean anything to you, it is simply a full path of meditation that is grounded in a non-dual, philosophical tradition.

Heart opening.  Magical.  Simple.  Potent.  Accessible. 

These are just a few words that begin to describe the experience.

This morning I was reflecting back on some of the most significant teachings I have received from this practice in the past two years.  Foremost, I have learned to trust that the wisdom I will truly ever need and seek is already here within me.  Perhaps the idea is not new to you, but the embodied experience of this through iRest is unlike anything I have felt.  This seemingly simple belief frees me of impulsively reaching, struggling and seeking outwardly.  It relieves me of thinking that skill, heart and understanding lie in some other place, time or version of myself.  And even when striving arises, I can viscerally feel the tug, the push and pull in my body and remember to slow down.  I remember that wisdom is available now and lies in everything:  confusion and clarity, anger and love, comfort and discomfort, even in the striving and staying.  I just have to pause and look within.  In fact, our deepest wisdom has space for the whole of the human experience.  Imagine if for a day you could embody this.  Life begins to feel a little or more different.

Slowly, I have also been uncovering an ease of Being that before I only felt when life was moving along as planned.  Though I am not always at ease, I do feel and trust in a more expanded field of Ease that carries all.  On any given day, with all of my conditioning, I am doing the best that I can.  As well, you are doing the best that you can.  In fact, we all are.  We are not perfect, yet there is a Perfection living through us.  This allows for a kinder and more skillful existence even when circumstances are difficult.  Being has space to receive the challenges and joys even when I, myself, cannot.  I can turn in any direction and have faith in this simple, yet profound and spacious essence.

I am eternally grateful for these teachings, the teachers and the community that have helped me to uncover this path and this understanding.

Sit down wherever you are
And listen to the wind singing in your veins.
Feel the love, the longing, the fear in your bones.
Open your heart to who you are, right now,
Not who you would like to be,
Not the saint you are striving to become,
But the being right here before you, inside you, around you.
All of you is holy.
You are already more and less
Than whatever you can know.
Breathe out,
Touch in,
Let go.

By: John Welwood