In The Stillness

In the stillness

there is clarity

there is wisdom

there is guidance

there is peace

there is love

there is joy

there is oneness

there is wholeness

In the stillness

I know who I am

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Stillness

from “The Zen Card” box created by Daniel Levin:

STILLNESS

When the night is still, you can HEAR the silence.

When the mind is still, listen to the silence and let it GUIDE you.

Conscious Speaking

I have often heard of the importance of being a good listener. Usually when I think of someone being a good speaker it is in the context of public speaking of some kind. The focus of my teaching for many years has been on living mindfully and being present in the moment. I am often aware of my breath, my thoughts, my feelings. It is my intention to develop the art of listening from my heart.

What about speaking? I know that speaking is one way to express myself…but do I consciously express mySelf?

It is a valid question and one that I plan to sit with and take into my meditations the next few days. I experience the highest level of conscious speaking when I am working with a person one-on-one or when I am leading a group or teaching a class. In those situations I am deeply connected and one with True Self. I am trusting the Divine to love others through me. What I speak flows through me rather than being thought up by me. So, I know what conscious speech feels like in that context.

My awareness is being heightened when I begin to feel frustrated on the phone. Just this week I was asking someone for help with an online issue and I was being directed elsewhere….”Oh, that’s not our program. You have to call that company.” Something I wanted to be simple was becoming more complicated every time I sought help. The frustration began to flow through my voice and I knew full well the person directing me was not responsible for the issue or for my frustration. As I heard my own voice, I knew I was wrong to speak to her that way. I stopped myself (hurray!) and took a breath. When I spoke again, I thanked her for her help and said I would do as she suggested. After all, she had helped me. It wasn’t her fault that this wasn’t how I wanted to spend my time in that moment. Upon ending the call, I sent her blessings and envisioned her having an easy day from that moment on.

I am learning to own what I am experiencing and still get the help I need. For example, when I heard that frustration building in my voice as a cable tech tried to help me over the phone, I interrupted myself and said, “I know you can hear the frustration in my voice. Please know that I am not frustrated with you. I get frustrated with myself for not understanding and with technology for not doing what I want it to do. Please hang in there with me because I know you are helping me.” He was very kind to me and even slowed down so that I could stay with him, ask questions, etc. This helped me to calm down very quickly and focus. The problem was then resolved in about 15 minutes and I was grateful for his knowledge and ability.

It seems I must clearly hear my own voice in order to modulate how it sounds and what it is communicating. Listening while I speak will also keep me from getting ahead of myself or getting off the subject. My desire is to be clear as well as loving and compassionate.

May my voice and my words, as well as the tone and volume, express the love and compassion of my True Self, my Soul. This is the blessing I give myself today.

Namaste.

Not Having the Answer for Everyone

I am the mother of two loving, intelligent, talented, wonderful human beings. I do not know everything about my children and yet I have known them longer than anyone else. I have known them since they were in my womb and I do not claim to be objective about them! I’m their mother; why would I be objective? In my eyes, in my mind, in my heart, they will always be amazing and wonderful. I am consistently taken back that I am responsible for having literally brought them into this world, this lifetime.

There have been times, in both their lives, when they have experienced deeply painful things. It is the nature of life, yes? None of us are exempt. Neither of them turn to me every time for guidance, understanding, and support but, when they do, I find myself dealing with that inability to be objective about them. I have the mama bear responses of wanting to defend and go after whoever is the cause of their pain. As I feel these things, my Soul speaks to my mind and heart with that still quiet voice that cannot be ignored. I am reminded that they are on a sacred path and it is no longer my job to protect and defend; it is my job to encourage and support. I would like to share, without personal details, an experience with each of them so that you can witness the power of following the guidance of the guru within, your Soul.

My daughter called and shared her sorrow and confusion with me. She was distraught and undone by life. She is a very intelligent woman who has created a wonderful life for herself. She is strong and resilient and not easily given to being undone. This night she was shattered. As I listened from my heart, I was overwhelmed with the depth of her emotions and what this experience had done to her. How could I say anything to make this better? I certainly couldn’t change it or fix it. My mind was a total blank and my heart was overflowing with love for my child, my firstborn. So, I said the only thing that came to my mind:

Honey, I don’t know what to say to you. Do you want me to come and be with you? I wish I had the answers that you need but I can tell you this. I know you better than any other human being. I have known you since you were in my womb, before I even knew what you looked like, and I believe in you. I am holding you in my heart and I believe in you to find your way through this, to find the answers that will work for you. I believe in you, sweetheart.

Her response almost knocked me over because I felt I was letting her down and had given her all I had to give and thought it probably wasn’t enough. She had listened so quietly, I wasn’t sure she was still on the phone. Her tears had melted away in the process and she spoke almost in a whisper, “Mom, this is why I called you and not anyone else. I knew you wouldn’t tell me what to do but you would understand and love me.” Whew! We hung up moments later and I dissolved into tears. My Soul spoke to hers. Those words did not come from the mind or the ego or even my hurting heart. My Soul spoke to hers.

The call from my son came in the morning just after I returned from riding my horse. My dog went with us and I was grounded and filled with a sense of peace and oneness with life. His first words, in a voice that revealed a deep need, were, “Mom, can you step away from being my mother long enough to be my spiritual guide and teacher? I need your help but it has to come from that place in you that you go to when you teach yoga and meditation, when a student comes to you for help in dealing with life. Can you do that with me?” I asked him to give me a moment to turn within and feel what he was asking. I remembered the experience with his sister and told him that I would do my best. He shared his story, his sorrow, his disappointment and pain. My mother’s heart does not disappear in these times; I feel my child’s pain and my own heart feels sorrow and hurt. However, my Soul takes the lead as my mind goes blank. I have learned to trust that rather than be taken back by it. I understand that the words that eventually come to mind will be from my Soul, from Divine Love within me. When he finished, I acknowledged his pain and suggested he focus on his breath and soften his body while I took a moment to breathe and turn within before saying anything. Then I replied without knowing more than the first few words I would say.

I love you. You are the child of my body and the child of my heart. I know you and I feel your sorrow and your disappointment. You are a courageous and strong young man and this has hit at the heart of you. First, I want you to know that you can do this; you can come through this and heal your heart and your mind. I believe in you and trust you to find your way through this. I also want to remind you that you must find open and honest expression of this pain. If you bury it, it will become a seed of bitterness that will affect your desire and ability to express your creativity and talent in this world. When we hang up, take a timer into the bathroom and set it for 20 minutes. Get into a hot shower and give yourself over to your pain and sorrow; let your tears flow; cry your heart out. If you make it until the timer goes off, let the tears go and dry yourself off. You are afraid if you give in to the emotions, you will never stop crying. Trust me, honey. Most of us barely make it 10 minutes. You may need to do this again if the emotions resurface. So what? Do it again. You will be exhausted so rest after. I love you. You can do this; I know you.

About an hour later, he called me back. “Mom, that was amazing! I really let it loose and I think I pushed it to a whole 8 minutes! And you were right, I am exhausted so I am going back to bed now and I will call you later. Thanks, Mom. I love you.” He still had a lot to look at and work through but he didn’t have to revisit the shower treatment. He chose to turn a painful human experience into an opportunity to grow spiritually, mentally and emotionally. My Soul spoke to his Soul.

In these experiences with my children, I was shown the power of turning to my Soul and letting my Soul speak to theirs. I don’t have to have all the answers. I do not know what is best for another spiritual being who is currently having a human experience. I can offer ideas about what works to calm the body, mind and emotions so they can turn to the Divine within. I can remind another that they DO know what to do. Their answers lie within; their answers come from their Soul. I can love and support with understanding and encouragement. I can believe in them and honor their journey, their sacred path. I can trust my Soul to bring the words they need to hear and I can speak, believing in mySelf. This is my sacred path.

I love you. Namaste.

Choosing Peace

There are some fundamental truths that cannot be said any better or clearer than they have already been said. So, with respect and reverence for their work, I will simply quote others.

Daily Quote, August 20, 2015, from Abraham/Esther Hicks:

Even in your rightness about a subject, when you try to push your rightness toward another who disagrees, no matter how right you are, it causes more pushing against. In other words, it isn’t until you stop pushing that any real allowing of what you want can take place.

Desiderata (excerpts), by Max Erhmann:

As far as possible without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly & clearly; and listen to others, even the dull & ignorant; they too have their story.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity & disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.

Many fears are born of fatigue & loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees & the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

And so it is.

Peace be with you.

Aum.

Speaking My Truth

Knowing my truth is vital to my sense of self and to my ability to understand how I move through the world.

Speaking my truth is not about getting you to understand me or convincing you of anything.

It is about hearing my own voice because, once I truly listen to mySelf, I am free of the need to be heard by anyone else.

Aun shanti

Walking Meditation with Very Few Rules

I just came in from a one hour walk – good for me on so many levels! The obvious one is the physical of course. Mental, emotional, spiritual benefits kick in when I turn my walk into a meditation as well. I have hardly any rules. Actually, the only real rule I have is:  no ear buds for music or phone calls. I carry my phone in case of emergency or, to call a family member when I am winding down and decide to stop in for a visit if possible.

So, how do you do walking meditation. There are as many methods as there are belief systems, ideas, people. This is what I have done on my last few walks.

I do a few simple yoga stretches and rotations before leaving home to connect with my breathing and to begin to move energy into my muscles and joints. As I start walking outside, I create a balancing breath that matches my stride, starting slowly with 4 counts on the inhale and 4 counts on the exhale. As my legs warm, I increase speed while keeping my stride rather short to burn calories and protect my knees. I stay with the balanced breath (4 in, 4 out) until I get bored with it!

Then, my focus turns to what I see around me. Some days my awareness goes to the mountains around Burbank and the sky above. I breathe them in and appreciate their magnificence, their beauty. I watch birds soar high above me. I especially like seeing hawks, messengers of the gods.  Other days my awareness goes to trees, bushes, flowers, succulents, blooming bushes, etc. I send blessings to all that grows on the earth and provides these feasts for the eyes. I send blessings to the landscapers who create and care for them; I send blessings to the home and property owners who nourish the earth by getting it done. One day recently a couple of squirrels played just ahead of me so I slowed my pace and grew very quiet. One of them stopped at the base of a tall live oak and began to study me. I stopped just four feet from the squirrel and let the studying continue. The squirrel moved within about 2.5 feet of me. My breath became very slow and quiet and we just enjoyed the moment together, looking and seeing and feeling each other’s presence. It was too wonderful for words.

This morning as I enjoyed all that was around me, my legs drew my awareness. I let myself feel the actual movement of my muscles contracting, lengthening, releasing, softening. A calf muscle tightened and I stopped to stretch and lengthen, bringing awareness fully to my breath and guiding it into that tender spot in the thick of the muscle. Then I smiled as I felt a shift and when I released the tightness was gone. I treated the other calf muscle to the same attention and it responded into softness as well. A little later, the quads asked for attention so I paused again, breathing and stretching and nurturing my body.

As I slowed my pace into the cool down phase at the end of my walk, I had no real idea of how long I had been gone. I check the time before I leave and then not again until I go back in the house. As I cooled down I closed my meditation in gratitude for my life, my health, my sense of happiness in that moment. Nothing had entered my mind during my walk except what I was seeing, hearing, feeling. The essence of true meditation is being so fully in the present moment that there is no other awareness. Whether that moment is expanding into the silence of the void, being immersed in sensory sensations, allowing enlightened inspiration to flood the mind  or being absorbed mindfully into the mantra I am meditating.

So, may I invite you today to play with this idea of what meditation is and let your ideas and beliefs about it expand into the essence of its true nature? May you find forms that fit you and allow you to enter into the sweetness of the moment, whether it is five minutes or an hour. May you experience the fullness of the moment and may you let each moment be enough.

Namaste.