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Posts tagged ‘Love’

Among the Trees

This week I was able to spend a little time outside during the early dawn hours.  I enjoy and savor the quietness of the mornings.  I can rest in the soft melodies of the birds, the scurry of the squirrels, the wind, the leaves, clouds just becoming visible, adrift in the sky.  My inner dialogue and the world’s still in an easeful slumber.  Lately, I often pause in awe of the trees.  The Grace with which they meet the seasons of their life.  They are a vision of exquisite surrender, not resisting the wind, the sun, nor the rain; simply rooted, their leaves falling and returning every spring.  And if it was meant that they were to be completely uprooted, then that too is included.

This morning my attention began to settle a little lower.  The earth beneath the trees and the beauty in this.  I could feel the earth holding all of these trees through the seasons of their existence.  The earth does not seem to have an agenda, not fixing nor changing.  It just holds what is.

My attention settles a little closer to home, to the terrain of life within me.  Was the earth not holding me through the seasons of life just as she holds the trees?  Is she not holding all of Life, at all times?  Here, no experience and no one is more or less worthy.  For a while, I rest in this open embrace, just the experience itself.  After a few minutes I walk back inside, remembering Mary Oliver’s poem.

When I Am Among the Trees

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

Listening and Loving

It is the time of the year when life begins to feel full in a way that I don’t often plan for.  I have been waking up with a mind full of tasks and reminders, and have found myself moving from one thing to the next without pausing. The season of joy can sometimes feel like the season of overwhelm for me.

This morning I woke up knowing my meditation practice was calling me and I was craving it. I needed to slow down, and to let the reminders and the tasks to fall to the side for a time. About forty-five minutes later I emerged from my practice to find Herb in the kitchen. I told him how I had been feeling.  He listened. He didn’t give me advice. He didn’t try to alleviate. Instead, he just listened and gave me a hug. He reminded me how much he loves me and how he has my back, as I literally felt his hand resting on the back of my heart.

If I was looking for a way to disrupt the overwhelm, I received exactly what I needed.  Listening and Love.  In fact, these are synonymous in my experience.  To be seen and heard is powerful, and perhaps one of the most loving gestures one human being can offer to another.  In an increasingly technology driven and speedy lifestyle, more of this human to human connecting and listening is necessary.

This morning the tasks and reminders did fall away for a time while gratitude took their place. I am thankful for a partner who can be at my side in a loving and grounded way.  I am thankful that my twelve year old chose to quietly snuggle with me in bed before we went to sleep last night.  I am thankful for my ten year old who shows me love in ways that I would never have expected.  And I am thankful for my beautiful niece, whose laughter and smile can light up my heart in the flash of a moment. While the world can feel crazy and life can feel more than full at times, today I am grateful for the deep well of love that I am surrounded by.

Deep listening is the kind of listening that can help relieve the suffering of another person. You can call it compassionate listening. You listen with only one purpose: to help him or her to empty his heart. Even if he says things that are full of wrong perceptions, full of bitterness, you are still capable of continuing to listen with compassion. Because you know that listening like that, you give that person a chance to suffer less. If you want to help him to correct his perception, you wait for another time. For now, you don’t interrupt. You don’t argue. If you do, he loses his chance. You just listen with compassion and help him to suffer less. One hour like that can bring transformation and healing.  

Thich Nhat Hahn

 

 

The iPhone predicament & the human predicament.

After years of waiting to upgrade my older iPhone, it was only two months before I dropped it, leaving the phone with a cracked screen. Naturally, I have looked into getting a more protective case, yet I did not want one that was so obtrusive that it inhibited access to my phone. More protection, less access.  More access, less protection. This somewhat insignificant predicament found me reflecting on the significance of our human predicament.

In life, there are times when we experience some nature of injury or pain, be it physical, emotional or psychological.  Often we have a natural response to protect ourselves so that we don’t have to re-experience similar pain while the wounds are still raw and healing.  While we may use bandaids for physical injury, we create almost superhero-like, invisible armoring for those we carry in the heart and mind. In my experience, sometimes these protections outlast the benefits they offer.

While barriers can shield us, to some degree, from further discomfort and hurt, the same barriers, often unintentionally, shield us from fully experiencing the opposites of comfort and love. We cannot have it both ways and life is a mixed bag of experiences. To the degree that we can open to our difficulties will also be the degree to which we can open to our joys and successes. Life comes with such inherent vulnerability.  Isn’t it true that when we embrace love, we also open ourselves up to loss?  Can we really assume to only have successes without failures and challenges, comforts without discomforts?  These are some of the necessary stepping stones in our human development and experience.

Pema Chodron says, “If you are invested in security and certainty, you are on the wrong planet”. This certainly rings true with me.  I don’t mean to imply that having guards and boundaries are never wise.  In fact they can be very skillful. The practice of meditation, in many ways, prepares us for the vulnerabilities of life; to sit a little longer with a discomfort before moving away, a little more fully with joy and happiness without holding too strongly.  In addition, it offers us a safe space for armoring to soften, at least for a time, so that we can feel what we may have been avoiding or what remains, and inquire as to what feels right and true now. It is an invaluable practice to explore the ways we remain intimate with life and the ways in which we sit back at a distance.  The inquiry itself can be the seed for change that arises somewhat organically when the time is right.

As far as the iPhone, I can be somewhat clumsy at times so a more protective case feels like a wise move.  As for my heart, it is both open and guarded in subtle ways.  And for today, this is completely okay.

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Hearts Open.

I am writing this with permission from my husband today, as it is his story not mine.  It impacted me and so I offer it to you.

As we sat for dinner yesterday, Herb said he wanted to share an experience from his day.  As he was leaving work to come home, he came upon a bird that seemed to be injured.  Catching his attention while in route to his car, he paused to consider if or how he could help.  He sensed that the bird was likely in pain.  His mind quickly ran through options and questions.  Should I pick him up to place him elsewhere or perhaps take him to the vet?  Or would picking him up actually inflict more pain?  And looking at the time, should I really get home to my girls and family?  He chose the latter, but on his drive home he was reminded of an experience from his childhood.  

Quite similarly, one day he came across a bird that was injured.  At an age where inhibitions were low, without forethought, he immediately picked the bird up and brought it home.  He created a place of rest out of a cardboard box and then asked his mom to make oatmeal, which he would later attempt to feed the bird.  As he shared this, his eyes became pensive and soft.  He reflected and wondered, had he in some way separated from that heartfelt spirit that once came so easily as a young boy.  

As children we are more tied to our hearts and closer to spirit than we are as adults.  I don’t say this to make myself or anyone feel bad, only to acknowledge the truth of our human experience.  In hearing Herb’s story and his reflection, what spoke to me was that despite the choices he made at different times in his life, his heart, in fact, was still open and quite tender.  Even with a routine that is quite full and long, he had the space to recognize and witness the experience, and in this case the suffering, of another sentient being.  Perhaps, there are moments where we more readily follow the heart’s call and other times where the heart’s calling cooperates with the realities of life. Regardless, having the space and willingness to be touched by those around us, all living breathing beings, allows our hearts to remain soft and open, and the tenderness carries forward.  It inevitably benefits the way we meet ourselves and the world.  

Herb’s experience reminded me to continue to keep the pace of my days slow enough so that I can savor and experience all of life, around and within, more fully.

Thank you Herb for sharing your story and your heart.

We don’t set out to save the world; we set to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people’s hearts.

Pema Chodron

 

 

What has life been asking of you?

It is an interesting exercise to ask people to feel into their heart’s longing.  We may begin feeling, but often, too quickly, we begin to formulate our ideas and beliefs.  Feeling is a more ambiguous place to stay. I have found personally that the ideas and ideals we grasp onto often mimic the already assumed beliefs and expectations of what we think we should be doing, how we should be and what life should look like.  While our ideas may align with our heartfelt path, at times it diverges from it.  The good news is that we all come into this existence with an inner compass that is informing us whether we are in or out of harmony with life. However, when the voice of the world and the ego is strong and loud, it takes practice to listen to the quieter whispers of the Heart.

Listening to this that is more quiet and often ambiguous is not easy.  It requires courage and faith. Among the many things I continue to learn on my path, one is that life asks us to rest with many moments of not knowing than otherwise.  This can feel threatening to the ego that needs to figure things out. We can feel “out of control” because in those moments we are not in control.  Life is.  Grace is.  Rather than struggling to create the life we think we should have, we faithfully surrender to the life that is waiting for us.  This can unleash a powerful feeling of freedom and harmony.  Yes, this sounds like a complete paradox and it is.

So, are you willing to surrender your own will to the greater Will and longing of your Heart.  Perhaps instead of what do I want from life, consider what has life been asking of me? In a rational, thinking oriented and productivity based world, it is hard and often scary to listen to our hearts.  Yet when we don’t, life may feel more mechanical, less alive.  Which is harder in the end?

I’ll leave you with words of wisdom from Joseph Campbell.

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