Tuesday, December 26, 2006

a gift

in this season of giving, i like to receive a gift as deeply and as fully as possible. ours is a world of abundance and the more we have, the more difficult it is to be fully with each thing we have. not being fully with our things creates the illusion of needing more (which, then, in reaching for more, makes it more difficult to be fully with what we have, and the cycle worsens).

i received a gift today. i walked into my office (this being my last week with the organization) and found a prettily wrapped gift sitting on my desk. the note atop the gift explained the gift was given to say thank you for the many things i had done to enrich and enlarge the life of the giver.

i didn't want to open my gift during the noise and busyness of the work day (the giver not being present), so i kept it wrapped and from time to time looked at it and re-read the message...i had enriched and enlarged her life. if there had been nothing else in that package, her beautiful words were enough to fill me. i had enriched and enlarged her life.

a gift is a special occasion and one to be appreciated and enjoyed. at home i prepared myself for the receiving of my gift. i set about lighting incense and turning on soft music, sat down, and held the gift in my hands. the package was gaily wrapped with cheerful flowers all over the outside of it. i sat and admired the flowers, taking time to be aware of all their pretty details. you see, the note on the package was a gift, and the wrapping was a gift too. i didn't want to miss anything of my present.

i opened the package and discovered not just an ordinary box holding my gift, but a tri-coastal designs box, constructed a bit like a hatbox, with cleverly costumed dogs all over the box. the box containing my gift was, again, itself another gift, a cute decorative box for personal use. i sat with the box for just a bit enjoying its clever drawings. once i had savored the new gift box, i opened the gift further.

nestled in the box and wrapped in soft tissue were beautiful small candle holders that look like raindrops, little golden raindrops with bubbles of rain inside. with the bubble candle holders were natural palm wax candles (aura-lites) with affirmational colors of inspiration. my friend had taken the time to choose candle colors that represent current messages in my life. how thoughtful. how perfectly lovely.

her candles burn next to me now, and in the glowing i am reminded how much, even without our noticing, how much we touch the lives of those around us and sometimes, maybe, we even enrich and enlarge another's life.

thank you, jane....

smoke photography by permission

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

protection

when i was a little girl i imagined myself a survivor. if i read a story of some such personal struggle or crisis, i always identified with the survivor, even if there was only one and everyone else in the story perished. i could not not see it that way. i survived.

as i grew older and began to drive a car (and even when i boarded a plane), i always took a moment of prayer or meditation to ask for protection. i envisioned a shield about me that protected me and everyone else with me and then i prayed three words: "no permanent damage." (i tell you this because this is how i have lived this story.) what i meant when i said my three words was that should any trouble come my way, any accident, there would be no permanent consequences. a broken leg is not permanent damage, for it would heal. losing a spleen or puncturing a lung...this would be permanent damage. i envisioned a shield and spoke the words "no permanent damange." in my own car i would say it aloud; on an airplane i whispered it quietly into my window (for i usually have a window seat). i did not say these words in fear; i spoke them with trust, and then went about my business.

when i was 21 years old, or perhaps 22, i was in an accident. my sister was driving; i had my newborn baby son in my arms (this was just before carseats became easily available and legally required) and my infant daughter in the back seat. a gasoline tanker truck driver fell asleep at the wheel and plowed into the car we were in. our car was flipped around and thrown into the highway headed in the opposite direction (with oncoming traffic headed into us), barely missing throwing us over an embankment and onto another highway below. the car was totally destroyed. amazingly, not only did all speeding oncoming traffic manage to stop before hitting us, but every one of us in the car walked out without any damage. (i was a nervous nilly on the highways for a while, though.) no permanent damage.

years later i was driving my daughter to college, all of her belongings in the car, as she was moving into her freshman year, when a woman on the highway lost control and crashed into us. every window in that car was broken and the car was totaled but we walked out without so much as a scratch (my daughter went to college with bits and pieces of glass in everything she owned). no permanent damage. i continued my visualization and my three-word prayer every time i started to drive and every time i boarded a plane.

one time i was driving in the midwest in the middle of a snowstorm, my being in the far left lane and an 18-wheeler to my right, when the 18-wheeler started coming into my lane. he was huge and already halfway into my lane, and there was no place for me to go (if i went any further left i would go over an embankment). the roads were slick with newfallen snow. in a split second i anticipated the sound of crunching metal. suddenly and immediately the truck was back in his lane and i was safe, though i never saw him retrace his path. unexpectedly i was safe and tears slid down my face as though a faucet had turned on. i was safe and i couldn't explain how. i simply cried and gave thanks. no permanent damage.

one more time i was in an accident due to another driver losing control, my car totaled, no injuries to me or to my family. (a fourth time my car was totaled but in this one i was not in the car at the time. i cried when i stood in the mechanic's shop and viewed my car in a thousand pieces, but i could only be grateful for my wellness.)

none of the accidents were due to my driving and never did my insurance increase. after the last accident, though, i changed my prayer for a while to two words: "no damage." (it was the least i could do for my insurance company.)

i have sometimes said i am protected by an angel in my car (that protection going to those who drive my car even without my presence). i have no way of proving, or even any way of knowing, if there is such an angel. i don't know if perhaps my visualizations or my affirmations created my subsequent reality. i offer no interpretation or belief to accompany my story. i simply want to tell you how this has played out for me. and i express my gratitude to the Universe for the survival i have known.


photography by permission

Monday, December 18, 2006

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.”

—Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Sunday, December 17, 2006





satisfaction doesn't come from having more; it comes from needing less...
--diana christine






photography by permission
cindy lee jones

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

being an obligation

several days ago i wrote my post taxes april 2006, sharing what i considered to be one of this year's most meaningful experiences and richest lessons. however, in the writing of the post i began to discover a new message.

i wrote "it seems to me that paying for something is a gift...the requirement to pay for something is a gift to us," and after the writing, the words lingered with me, almost haunting me. the idea of an obligation to pay for a thing being a gift to me felt right, and my experiences with it felt true. our requirement to pay, our obligation, calls for our participation, and participation pulls us into an experience, giving us what we need.

obligation calls not only for our contribution, but for our responsibility, for our commitment. what a lovely thing it is for me to be a visitor to a garden and give my adoration or occasional gift but what greater loveliness for me to be the rain upon which the garden is depending.

i have had various relationships with obligation. i have had responsibility to children who depended on me, who could not survive without my constant care. i have had obligation to a partner who was unemployed and depended on my income for sustenance or who relied on me for courage and support. in those times i responded to obligation with ready acceptance, with open willingness, with loving trust. not only did i accept my obligations, but i did not consider them to be burdens.

however, as i wrote
taxes april 2006 i suddenly saw that i have refused (which is to say i have resisted) the other side of obligation. i have pursued a life of being sure not to "be" an obligation. (really, though, one cannot refuse one side of something without also being resistant to its opposing side.)

in recent years i have pursued being independent, self supporting, not wanting ever to be an obligation to another. i have worked to ensure that anything done for me or given to me by another be for love and never from obligation. sometimes i have been willing to suffer loss rather than ask for help in my avoidance of ever being an obligation.

as i wrote my post, though, i suddenly saw (or rather...felt) another view of obligation, and that of its being a gift. if being obligated to a thing, being required to pay, is a gift, then my refusal to be an obligation is much the same as depriving another of a gift. it seems to me i must from time to time be humble enough to allow myself to be another's obligation, to be another's gift. i am called to explore the gift of interdependence.

and suddenly, the words "being an obligation" are no longer ugly to me but are beautiful and lovely. being an obligation is a deeply meaningful experience.



photo by permission

Monday, December 11, 2006

our
most
appropriate
response
to
anything
is
gratitude,
our
greatest
participation,
thankfulness

awakening

consciousness is not all or nothing.

we are not either fully conscious or not at all conscious.

if we were fully conscious, it seems to me we would not be here. this is our proving ground. this is where we work toward consciousness. and all of us are more, and less, conscious and unconscious. sometimes more, and then sometimes less. our work is in moving to more.

as much as we work toward consciousness, we are to honor our own unconsciousness and that of another, honor those places within us that need to be awakened and deepened.

may i ever be gentle with those places in you that struggle in shadows, love those parts of me that still seek light. and may i ever work toward consciousness.

photography by permission

Friday, December 08, 2006

Christ Consciousness

i grew up in the church, a minister's daughter, and when i was a little girl, from time to time someone would come forth with a puzzle that held the picture of Christ, you know, one of those puzzles where i couldn't see his face until and unless i looked at it at just the right angle. sometimes it was His face and sometimes it was the word CHRIST held in the puzzle but i couldn't see the word until i looked at it just so. i would struggle and work to see what everyone else could see, and then once the image took shape, i could not not see his face. i would then wonder how could it have been that for so long i had been unable to see Him in the picture.

sometimes we struggle with a thing for quite some time and then understand it in a single moment.

earlier this year i was in conversation with a friend and in that conversation came to an understanding of the meaning of Christ.

Christ is the symbol of our Consciousness.

suddenly and in a moment the meaning of so many things in my life shifted into focus.

i consistently embrace the idea that if A equals B and B equals C, then A equals C. if this be true, and if Christ is the symbol of our Consciousness, then every reference to Christ is a reference to our Consciousness. during the next several days following my new understanding, i pondered the meaning of Consciousness in every context that came to me.

in the beginning was Consciousness, and Consciousness was with God, and Consciousness was God; the same was in the beginning with God.

Consciousness is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

being Conscious is my Salvation, my Redemption, my Strong Tower. Consciousness is our hope, our joy.

understanding of the scriptures poured upon me like refreshing rain that cleanses, that opens, that awakens.

sometimes my greater understanding comes to me through music. just after my deepened understanding of Consciousness, i purchased a celtic woman CD that included the song "deer's cry." lisa sings the song and as she moves into the refrain she begins to sing Christ with me…Christ before me…Christ behind me…Christ in me…Christ beneath me…Christ above me…Christ on my right…Christ on my left…Christ when I lie down…Christ when I sit down…Christ when I rise…Christ to shield me…Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me…Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me…

the words and the music wash over me and i feel surrounded by Consciousness, immersed in Consciousness, supported by Consciousness, loved by Consciousness, filled with Consciousness.

though i have listened to the music again and again, i continue to be touched and moved by it, broken open, and brought to tears. and in the crying i am cleansed…

Thursday, December 07, 2006

on being a friend

my heart weeps for the family of james kim, who died in an oregon wilderness while seeking help for his family stranded in a snowstorm. i am sorry for the grief you now bear. my heart weeps for you.

i, too, lost a friend once who became stranded in a snowstorm.

i met cheryl in high school in our small town in southeastern ohio, cheryl being one year younger than i in a school that served an entire county. i was from a conservative minister’s family, and while i did not have the opportunity to participate in the school’s many extracurricular activities, i was an academic and a class officer and had many friends. cheryl, on the other hand, was from an extremely poor family, had few if any friends, and suffered sorrowfully at the hands of fellow students who tormented her. cheryl and her family were taunted for their scruffy dresses, their out-of-fashion shoes, their unkempt hair, the heavy scent of burnt wood and coal that clung to their clothing. for cheryl’s family, childhood was grievous.

i met cheryl in the library, where i spent considerable time during the final months of my senior year in school. she sought my assistance with her homework, which i was glad to give, and we became acquainted. i easily could have been too busy for cheryl, for i had a demanding academic schedule and a full life, but cheryl needed someone to talk to, so i listened. she became my friend. we talked about history and geometry, about hairdos and boys and music, and about dreams for the rest of our lives. we shared the library for quite several months but finally the end of school arrived—i gave cheryl one of my senior class photographs and a hug, i graduated and married, and i left the country. i never saw cheryl again.

during the winter following my graduation and departure from our town, cheryl was driving through the heart of a forest in the middle of a blizzard when her car skidded in the ice and snow and slid into a ditch. she found herself stranded in a seemingly endless snowstorm, and in her efforts to keep warm, she kept the car’s engine running. as snow piled upon and around the car, the exhaust pipe became obstructed and cheryl became overcome by exhaust fumes. it was a couple of weeks before cheryl’s family found her car and her lifeless body.


i was living in germany during this time and was unaware of cheryl’s untimely death. however, in the preparations for her funeral, her family remembered the friend she had so often spoken of, the scholar she so admired, and the person she felt was the only one who had ever shown her kindness. cheryl’s mother slipped my photograph into her hands, and cheryl was buried with my picture in her casket.

many years have passed since then but every time i hear of someone’s struggle with being stranded in a blizzard, i remember cheryl and what she taught me of the importance of kindness, of tenderness, of friendship.

sometimes i look at my life and bewail what feels like too little accomplishment and even far too little growing and deepening. but on a day like today when i remember cheryl , i realize whatever promises my life may give birth to, nothing i do will ever be greater than this, that i was someone’s friend.

and i am grateful to cheryl for teaching me my most precious gift.


photography by permission

taxes april 2006

early in the year i had a new gym membership, and each day as i attended my workout, i parked my car in a nearby garage, a garage that charged a fee for parking between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

as it happened to be, i would arrive at the garage at 5:35 (coming directly from the office), and i would be charged 50 cents for my parking because of this 25-minute overlap. each day as i parked my car and paid my toll, i grumbled under my breath for the necessity of paying 50 cents every time i worked out. i was so close to parking-fee closing time and i was, after all, already paying a gym membership, and 50 cents per day equals an additional $15 per month (though i was not working out every single day).

no one heard my grumbling, as it was under my breath, so it seemed to me to be innocuous enough. however, one day as i paid my fee and felt my own lamenting sigh deep within me, it occured to me i was involved in a practice of resistance. i suddenly realized resistance is not only about expressions of anger but is also about refusal to accept what something is and how it is, no matter how quiet our opposition. and i was practicing resistance.

i set about to make a correction. each day as i paid my two quarters, i thought to myself (just as quietly as i had grumbled) how much i appreciate having the ability to pay 50 cents. many of my brothers and sisters in the world are unable to pay this half dollar and in fact, it was not so long ago that my own income could not have supported an ability to render 50 cents. each day as i paid my parking fee, i gave thanks for the gifts in my own hand, gave thanks for my ability to pay for the convenience of a comfortable garage, gave thanks for my luxury in a gym membership. giving thanks became my practice every time i paid any fees, tolls, or bills.

january and february turned into march and then april, and it was time once again for me to account to the IRS for my income and my taxes. in the previous year i had been unable to pay all of my taxes by april 15 so i had negotiated a monthly payment plan for my unpaid portion. another april had arrived and i anticipated the need for a similar arrangement for another year, expecting the many thousands of dollars already paid to the IRS would not cover the full amount needed to cover the tax year.

just before the april deadline arrived, however, i was invited to make a presentation to an audience in the northeast for a couple of days, an engagement that would pay me a couple thousand dollars. just enough, of course, to pay the remainder due on a certain tax bill. as i completed my tax forms and wrote my check, i was delighted to be able to pay my bill without incurring IRS debt. i was so pleased to make my payment in full that it never occurred to me to complain or grumble about the cost of my tax bill; i simply gave thanks. reflecting upon it later, i realized that practicing gratitude in paying something as small as 50 cents for parking had resulted in natural gratitude in paying a couple thousand dollars. how lovely my new practice.

it seems to me that paying for something is a gift. the requirement to pay for something is a gift to us. our requirement to pay is a call for our participation. our paying for what we have and what we do becomes our interaction. i am being asked to participate, and participation in life and participation in the earth is such a beautiful thing.

my story doesn't end here, though.

several weeks after paying my taxes, i received an envelope from the IRS, an envelope that contained a correction to my tax calculations and a notice that i would soon receive a check from the IRS. several days later i received their check, a check for nearly exactly the amount i thought i had owed them and had paid them in april. once again, i found myself in a position of gratitude.

and i can only sit and wonder.

returning

i have missed being here.

my life has continued to unfold, and beautifully so, but as weeks turned into months i began to wonder how to return. my life is full and rich, and how does one step back into a moving stream?

it seems to me the best way to return is right where i am, with my stepping into what in my life is already in progress. however, i seek your permission to recapture a couple of messages from this year, messages that have been numinous in my awakening.

thank you for your presence in my writing and my life, for your faithfulness, for your friendship.

diana christine

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

words

words
written
spoken
or even only whispered in the wind
live forever
becoming one with our mountains
our rocks
our paths

once formed
words can never be destroyed

this be the cause
for our greatest care
in their creation....

Friday, March 24, 2006

hafiz

during this time that i am immersed in editing the words of another author and meeting manuscript deadlines, my own writing sits by waiting patiently, knowing i will return. in my absence, i submit a favorite from hafiz, a poem that feeds me now.


Light
Will someday split you open
Even if your life is now a cage.

Little by little,
You will turn into stars.

Little by little,
You will turn into
The whole, sweet, amorous Universe.

Love will surely burst you wide open
Into an unfettered, booming new galaxy.

You will become so free
In a wonderful, secret
And pure Love
That flows
From a conscious,
One-pointed,
Infinite Light.

Even then, my dear,
The Beloved will have fulfilled
Just a fraction,
Just a fraction!
Of a promise
He wrote upon your heart.

For a divine seed, the crown of destiny,
Is hidden and sown on an ancient, fertile plain
You hold the title to.

O look again within yourself,
For I know you were once the elegant host
To all the marvels in creation.

When your soul begins
To ever bloom and laugh
And spin in Eternal Ecstasy-

O little by little,
You will turn into God.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

you are holy

you sometimes wonder many things of your own self. you try to be right. you want to be beautiful. you wonder if you are good, or at least as good as you believe you ought to be. you are truly and deeply all of these things. even more than right and beautiful and good, you are holy. you are holy. you are holy.

last year I explored the meaning of holy and of being holy (
here) and found the definition to be "sacred, belonging to or coming from God." today i searched a little more and found the definition to be "set apart for the worship or service of God." dear one, you are holy, and i am holy. we are sacred, coming from and belonging to God. too, we are set apart for the worship or service of God. our work is holy. someone once said to me "cleaning bathrooms is holy work and cleaning the temple is holy work; either all of it is holy or none of it is holy." this is true, the work that is placed in our hands is holy work, and we are holy. the challenge, though, is in our becoming aware of and living up to our own holiness.

a treasured friend suggested holy means "being whole and bringing all the unloved parts of oneself into Oneness" and expressed his desire to become so. i asked that he take a closer look. we are in the sight of God a whole and complete being, even in our brokenness. perhaps, even, because of our brokenness. (God sees us as we Are; only we see the perceived imperfection.)

a friend of mine, an author of several books, often uses a metaphor from an experience of her own. she once had a car accident that gave her an injury, an injury that later led to her growing and deepening. in the accident a valuable vessel on the seat next to her was also injured (although the crack in the vessel and the crack in her shoulder did not become apparent to her until some time later.) she uses the illustration of the cracked vessel as one that without its crack cannot let the light in or let the light flow outward. where we are broken is where our Light can shine. our brokenness is for a purpose, and our being not whole (or perceiving that we are not whole, for in truth we are whole but not conscious of it) is a gift to God and the Universe and to our own selves. we do not "become" holy by becoming whole, we become whole because we re-cognize we are already holy. i feel it so clearly yet i am sometimes uncertain if the deep things i feel are expressed in a way that others can feel them too.

you are deeply, wonderfully holy, set apart for and emanating from God. holy is your state of being. holiness is your Truth.

one could suggest that believing in being already holy would lead to one no longer making an effort to live a holy life. however, recognizing one's self is Holy does not bring careless attention to living a pure life, but rather, the more deeply we recognize our own holiness, the more deeply it is reflected in our compassion and in our purity of living. true knowing that we are Holy brings its true reflection. this has unfolded beautifully for me. as i come from the belief in a separate authoritarian God and a fire-and-brimstone hell and come to recognize my Holiness, i discover greater depths of integrity. i have been surprised to discover greater devotion to integrity now that it comes from within rather than its being to avoid something without. our work is to come to see our own Holiness.

please know you are beautifully and wonderfully holy.

you are holy.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

storms

it used to be
i found myself in storms
and in their passing
devastation was my lot

i buoyed myself
built my strength
sought to find a way
that i may persevere
and remain intact

when storms arrived
i fought
only to find
wrestling with the winds
even with newfound strength
left me spent, beaten
broken inside

time passed
(as she so eloquently does)
and today i noted
storms come and go
and raging winds
seem no bigger than whispers
and in fact
what once were gales
tearing through my soul
now seem but friends
who join me from time to time
on my own path

i looked inside
at how life has changed
and wondered for a moment
what might have made the difference
and i saw
it was not greater resistance
that has changed the way things are
for bracing myself against the storms
didn't bring about this change
but instead
this new way
of no longer breaking from the wind
came from my finally recognizing
that i
am the storm

photography by permission cindy lee jones

returned home

i have been traveling and am now safely returned home. my travels were lovely, truly so.

some of you wrote inquiring about my absence, and i thank you for the care, for the concern, for this reflection of your friendship. you are deeply meaningful to me and i love that you are part of my world. thank you, too, for letting me know you long for my writing. you are my blessing. you are my joy.

in the same love you have shown me, i pray you are blessed with safety, with peace, and with much happiness.

diana christine

Sunday, February 26, 2006

i cry for the beauty of my own deepening; i am humbled by grace given me. that i, who understood so little, who was so deeply unaware, should come to drink of such rich waters, i weep for so great a gift.

it often grieves me that i am bereft of sufficient voice, that i struggle to convey in my writing even a shadow of the Light provided my path. like an artist whose attempts to draw the majesty of a mountain fall so short of its grandeur, i capture barely a hint of Truths opening to me. i taste, i feel, i sense a thing and struggle to find words that adequately represent it, and yet for its need in the world i will spend my days (and many of my nights) working toward this end. better a shadow of Truth than no representation at all.

my previous humble words attempting to describe the flow of life, of our need to become emptied to be filled, have lingered with me for days, taking me into greater depths. how quickly, how desperately we seek to fill any sense of emptiness, be it with alcohol or nicotine or sugar or sex or any number of satisfactions and illusions and opinions. yet touching that emptiness is perhaps our greatest opening to the Universe. and our path to being the most pure vessel possible for the Universe to flow through us calls for our ability to continue to become emptied, calls for our courage to touch this.

even now i know not all that i know but i seek to live true to that i do.

my commitment to eating mindfully is bleeding into other parts of my life. perhaps it is that one practice lived deeply and fully builds a bridge to deepening every other one. my increasing ability to be fully with my food is taking me to greater ability to be fully with the rest of life. and so it should be so.

my commitment to you is to bring to you as fully as possible, as much as lieth within me, the gifts that are given me. and i submit to you the best i have to give...

where to find

i believed i had wounds
that would never be healed
thought redemption
carried prices
i was unable to pay

i felt knowing held spaces
outside of my reach
thought resurrection
came out of darkness
impossible to endure

and so i continued
in seeking to find
the holder of the answers
the warden of the light

i longed
for my capacity to awaken
i struggled
for my potential to live

only to discover
in my awakening

all during my struggle
i had held the answers
to the questions that beckoned
i had the balm
for the healing i sought
i was the fulfillment
for the longing in my heart
i held the redemption
provided my soul

and the Universe in Her Wisdom
has already ensured
our questions are the answer
our longing is the cure



photography by permission cindy lee jones

Saturday, February 25, 2006

mindful eating

one of my spiritual practices is that of mindfulness in relationship with food, mindfulness in my personal relationship with food as well as observation of our cultural habits. this has become a deep study for me, an important work in my life.

what i put into my mouth becomes part of me, and in truth becomes me, and calls for my most loving attention not only in what i choose to eat but in how i receive it. many in our american culture, if not most, are nearly completely disconnected from the food we eat. most of us do not plant or tend or harvest our food, do not carefully preserve it or store it. some of us do not prepare our food, do not feel it in our hands in cleaning and chopping and cooking it, do not lovingly serve it. much of our food bears little resemblance to its whole nature. an even more surprising tragedy, many of us are not present with our food when we eat it. we give about as little care in how we put food into our mouths as we do in feeding paper to our printers. our tendency to overeat, our constant craving, are in large part due to our inability to be present with our food. we are not in relationship with our food and do not deeply receive it, thereby always needing more.

that which becomes my own body calls for my greatest attention, begs my deepest love.

my relationship with my food begins with mindfulness and gratitude as i touch it and prepare it, continues as i put it into my mouth and participate in every texture and taste of it. even before i swallow, i have already begun to merge with what will become part of my body. i am, quite directly so, loving my own self when i treat my food with my deepest love. only in my appreciation and my mindfulness in eating is my food fully prepared to be taken into my body.

one aspect of my mindful eating practice is to eat without distraction, eating with only me and my food present. when i began my practice, at first the idea of eating without any other activity was daunting. how could i eat without reading the newspaper or a book, without watching television or opening my mail or sitting at the computer or perhaps indulging in a conversation? i struggled at first so instead of every meal of eating without distraction, i committed to one meal a day, something that appeared to be more manageable. what i discovered was far more than i ever could have imagined. mindful eating became a wonder of experience, deeply spiritual and deeply sensual, and with significant health benefits.

i am now in the middle of a study/writing/practice experiment for one full month of every meal being mindfully consumed, without any other presence or distraction during eating. the writing of this experience is too large for posting (it is part of a book manuscript) but because the practice is such an important part of my life, i want to introduce it here.

if we want our bodies to serve us well, we must serve our bodies well. we must be one with our bodies, and to be one with our bodies, we must also be one with our food.

touch it, taste it, take it in, but do so with the care, the presence, the attention we give to a lover. and we will discover our fulfillment returned unto us...


photography by permission graham jeffrey

Friday, February 24, 2006

more on being filled

in the early morning hours today i came to deeper understanding of the short poem on becoming emptied. at the time of the writing i felt the significance of the empty vessel being a pitcher, for this kind of vessel is not only filled but also poured out. my being a vessel is not for holding but for receiving and for pouring out.

during the early morning hours i felt deeper understanding.

our world is about "flow through"--breathing in and breathing out, receiving and releasing, holding and letting go. the rhythm of life moves like an ocean and flows like a breeze. we, too, are part of this same life and we are vessels for flowing through, not for holding.

if we do not allow ourselves to become emptied, if we have not this courage or this strength, what pours from us will be contaminated by what we have been holding, possibly even coming only from stagnant waters and none from Source and flow-through.

my work is to allow the Spirit to flow through me as clearly as possible from Source without being compromised by my attachment to something in the past, by my judgments, my opinions, my holding. listening and responding to someone without making it my own story, receiving and delivering truth without giving it my own spin. life, flowing through me.

may it be ever so.

empty me of my pretensions
empty me of all my pride
empty me of my objections
empty me of fears inside

make of me an open vessel
create of me a pitcher true
for only in my courage to be empty
can i know the fullness of you

photography by permission cindy lee jones

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

emptied to become full

empty me of my pretensions
empty me of all my pride
empty me of my objections
empty me of fears inside

make of me an open vessel
create of me a pitcher true
for only in my courage to be empty
can i know the fullness of you

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

equal truth

in being without desires,
you experience the wonder;
but by having desires,
you experience the journey.

yet both spring
from the same source and
differ mostly in name.

tao te ching

walking in this place calls for my greatest care. i worried that yesterday’s posting could have been misleading. i deeply honor the choice of another to seek enlightenment and in truth make every effort in my own life to live Spirit First. however, i do seek to encourage awareness of pursuing Spirit from a place of seeking greater depth rather than from a place of feeling inadequate. i deeply honor the life chosen to seek enlightenment.

those who choose to live a life separate and immersed in S
pirit are not only beautiful but are needed in our world. those who choose to live a life in exploration of the physical experience are in equal beauty, equal truth…

Monday, February 20, 2006

lover and beloved

for the past month i have been considering a thing and wondering how to open its discussion. perhaps it is time to attempt words for what i feel. i walk softly and gently through this serious conversation for i seek never to question or judge another's path. yet my truth calls for my courage to share my views even while i honor and respect your own. i walk lovingly and carefully.

a friend of mine seeks to become enlightened, longing for it so much that it diminishes (or at times even obliterates) other experiences in her life. she wants to transcend desire and suffering, and she seeks to live in a complete state of Godliness. it feels to me that more than seeking to be in communion with God or know God, she longs to become God. this passion sometimes diminishes her human experience.

i have watched her with her desire to be more spiritual, to be deeper, to be more holy. her desire to be more Godly feels to me like a desire to be "more" and the desire to be "more" is a desire to be "different." a desire to be "different" is a rejection of what one is. rejection is an aggression against one's own self, and it seems to me there is nothing less Godly than rejection. God is Love, pure Love, and love is nothing if it is not acceptance...

someone once said to me, "to think i am not enough for this moment is a form of self-pity, a belief in insufficiency and want. to think that doing more is an answer turns spiritual practice into a form of athletics. to want to be further along one's own path is a form of greed. it is placing a goal above the process of achieving the goal. if i do not love the Path, if i am not following my Bliss, i will never make the Destination."

it seems to me the Destination cannot be the destination, but rather, the Path must be the destination.

this feels like a paradox. wanting to become enlightened is in a way counter to becoming enlightened. to become enlightened calls for letting go of the passionate desire to become so. but then how does one become what one stops longing to become? (the difficulty for me is finding words for this.) it works similarly to acceptance of one's self while at the same time continuing in self improvement; there is a way of fully embracing acceptance while at the same time continuing the path toward improvement. (acceptance means deeply and fully receiving a thing.) there is a way of letting go of longing to be enlightened while at the same time continuing to become more enlightened. the Spirit does not forget the longing.




it seems to me enlightenment is not about becoming enlightened but is about coming to the realization that we already are.

i grieve when i am in the presence of people who desperately long for greater enlightenment. i sorrow for the look in their eyes of wanting to be so much more.

sometimes someone loves a thing so much she wants to consume or become the very thing she loves. sometimes we (in human form) love God so much we long to become God (in pure form).

we are the Beloved of God. God is the Lover and we, the Beloved. God loves us and experiences life through us and through our lives. if we long to merge with God (the Lover), we seek to deny God our human form (the Beloved). how can we deny God His or Her Beloved? and yet, Lover and Beloved are One...

our work is to become ever more conscious, ever more aware, ever more enlightened while at the same time placing our highest honor on being in human form, in all of our perceived imperfections and necessary struggles, even in our perceived darkness. and our most important work is being exactly who we are.

photography by permission cindy lee jones

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

on awakening

a burn patient lies unconscious
sleep induced
for if he awakened
the pain would kill him

people remain unconscious
for same cause
unable to bear the pain
or unwilling to do so
not knowing
truth and its freedom

and healing
lie beneath

facing the pain

this warrior is a child, this woman, a girl

the world seeks my confidence
demands my strength
calls for my being everything
if not the best i can be

i struggle
fight to find my way
give it everything i have

only to discover
at times
my armor begs setting down

i thought being right
meant always being good
i thought being good
meant always being strong
but the truth of the matter is
i cannot hold my strength
without stepping into
the weakest part of me
and i then learn
without my weakness
i have no strength

and being good
isn't always right

behind each victory

is a struggle surrendered
beneath every gain
a concept conceded
for without submission within
i have no conquest without

this warrior is a child
this woman is a girl
yet i carry the shield
required of me
wield it bravely
carry it true
and never lose sight
of knowing
this child is a victor
a champion, this girl




photographic art by permission

Monday, February 13, 2006

looking within

one of my favorite quotes and one of our greatest truths...

who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens.
carl gustav jung

being "all there"

much of my work during the past two years has been that of becoming as fully present as possible. until two years ago i had almost no understanding of what people mean when they say "being present" (not that prior to that time i was around many people using that expression). during the past two years i have learned much; it wasn't easy and it usually wasn't painless, but it was worth every effort. i still have much ground to cover but i am willing to continue working.

people often talk and write about being present, particularly being in the present moment. however, being fully present takes us even deeper. being fully present calls for every part of us being present in our current moment and current situation, all of our parts. this is far more challenging than it first appears. we have many parts to us, and from childhood we become accustomed to being present in one or another part without embracing the whole. in fact, we find some parts of us so unattractive or undesirable that we consistently deny or repress them.

in addition to conscious choice, many things prevent our being fully present. emotions are perhaps the most frequent cause of not being fully present. we get caught in an emotion and we are carried into it while other parts of us disappear or become paralyzed. even if for just a split second, we come fully into an emotion (elation or anger or fear, for example) and for that second no other part of us exists (for most this lasts more than a second). our stories are another frequent cause of not being fully present. listen to everyone around you and you will recognize people get caught up in the telling and the retelling of a story and they are not receiving any other information through their senses while they are storytelling. we have all been susceptible to this. only part of us is operating at any given time unless we practice full presence.

work on being fully present (as fully present as possible) has changed some of my habits. i am more careful with the use of charm, being attentive to use it only when my intentions are deeply honorable. i am less likely to exaggerate or dramatize even in slight ways. i am more likely to speak slowly and more thoughtfully and more quietly. i am especially attentive to (and quicker now) catching moments after i was not fully present (especially in a split second of laughter, this still seems to pull me out occasionally).

when i was growing up, one would occasionally hear someone say of another, "he is not all there." usually this expression was made when another exhibited behavior that appeared to be unstable. i have come to use this expression for my own self when i am aware of not having all of myself fully present. sometimes i recognize i am "not all there." and my work deepens.

in an effort to become more fully present, sometimes i spend time in a practice of calling forth each part of me, giving each part time and space to express. the first time i did this was one year ago (one year ago this week, actually) during a troubling time. after a disturbing day, that night i decided to listen to every single part of me. i called every part of me to join me at a table (metaphorically speaking) and attempted to identify each part. every voice was claimed to be valid and important and necessary and i listened to each one. i spent time listening to what my angry girl had to say. i listened to the complainer. the victim. the judge. the fearful one. the compassionate one. the understanding one. the rational-thinking one. i struggled to hear what every part of me had to say about the pain i was in. i cried and listened and held each one. i gave thanks to each one for the beauty and contribution of that part. i did this for hours and from time to time worried that before the night ended i might be insane. surprisingly, by morning (i did this pretty much all night long)...by morning i felt more whole than i ever had before. i felt strangely so, strange that i had for the first time in my life addressed my seemingly separate parts and came out feeling more whole than before. it was a deeply moving experience that taught me much in one sleepless night.

i practice this from time to time to find a missing voice, to discover a repressed part, to accept an undesired part of me. i still have a lot of work to do to become more whole and to become ever more fully present.


those beginning steps opened me to my emotions. next steps delved into behaviors such as the nurturing part of me, the generous part, the inquisitive part, the resistant part. i now explore those fundamental parts of myself such as the spiritual, the physical, the emotional, the social, the sexual, the masculine and the feminine. i seek to hold the depressed and the exuberant at the same time, the strong and the weak, the optimist and the pessimist, the light and the shadow, the beloved and the unloved, for i am all of them. the more i discover and accept my various parts, i discover i am One.

the parts of our own self work much the way a team works. if any one part of a team diminishes another part of the team, the whole is affected. if any one part of a team rejects another part of the team, the whole is weakened or destroyed. my work is to strengthen all of me, to accept and love and listen to every part of me. every voice is valid. and every voice is needed. as much as lieth within me, i want to be fully present.

art by permission cindy lee jones

Saturday, February 11, 2006

chakras

my yoga instructor is focusing on the chakras during the next seven weeks. how lovely for me that she has brought this study into my yoga class, as i have been wanting to study these centers of energy. in concert with her course, i am working on additional studies at home.

i discovered a lovely website (thank you awakened1) to be a resource for me. eclectic energies presents an introduction to the chakras and exercises for opening these centers as well as presents the enneagram and other practices.

how wonderful to be ever deepening our understanding...

Thursday, February 09, 2006

why
spend so much time
(or any time at all)
wrestling
with what is past
or what didn't come

we seem to hold
the image of a thing
far beyond its life
and wrestle
with how it played out

hold instead
the light it gave
(which can't be lost)
and let go
of what's no longer there


photography by permission graham jeffrey

Sunday, February 05, 2006

intention

i try to look beneath everything i do and identify my intention. in obvious things as well as subtle ones i answer what is my intention behind my behavior. like choosing what to write here and how to craft my words, is my intention to impress you? to share with you something that moves me? to teach you? to learn something for myself? to put into form what i am learning that i may be more sure of it still? to practice writing? an attempt to be heard or understood? some combination of several of these things? or am i doing what i do because i am directed by a Higher Source?

when i am about to say something to someone (or sometimes after it's already been said) i look for my intention and i am completely honest with myself (what good would it be were i not to be?). when i look for intention i am as honest as i can possibly be about what underlies the action and i try to make no judgment on my observation. sometimes i accept my intention and continue the chosen act (like occasionally when i realize my intention to impress someone, though i then have to ponder my need to impress) and other times recognition of the intention causes me to end my choice to act (for example when i recognize my intention is some form of defense).

sometimes when i identify an intention i go deeper and find another still.

i am beginning to know myself. and i am beginning to live ever-increasing depths of integrity.

this is hard work and sometimes even now i still forget.

underwater

i spent most of my life believing walking on water is the miracle only to discover my miracle is in being under it (inside it).

i spent quite some time this morning practicing swimming (particularly my kickoff and my glide) and working on increasing my ability to stay underwater. i love it more than i ever could have imagined.

my very first time several weeks ago and every time since, i am in awe of my being in the water. what an incredible joy, what an amazing surprise to be swimming after all these years of wishing it were so. somehow there was a part of me that believed i could not learn, a part of me that accepted not knowing how.

being here now, this is a miracle. being under the water, moving in the water, is every bit the miracle to me as walking on its surface.

and i couldn't be more pleased.

photo by permission cindy lee jones

eating habits

it seems nothing gives me more relevant, more clear messages than my exploration of eating habits. these, my eating habits, have become some of my most powerful metaphors.

i have looked at desire, addiction, and craving from every possible angle that i may understand it in my own life. craving, separate from the body's natural hunger for nourishment, is a want for something more. wanting to have something more is the same as wanting to be something more. craving is an expression of a belief in insufficiency and want. craving anything is a reflection of wanting to be more, feeling insufficient. my desire for food when it is separate from physical hunger tells me i feel i am not enough. it is not about food at all. my work then becomes not about resisting the desire to eat more than i need but rather my work is to discover how and why and where i believe i am not enough.

this is a very big work.


photo by permission cindy lee jones

dna

i understand my dna can be found in any part of my body, a strand of hair or a fingernail or any single cell, and this dna contains the formula for the whole of me. with the dna from any part, the whole can be reproduced. this means one cell is in fact the same as being the whole. this, from our bodies, reflects a mirrored image of the universe. one part of the universe contains the formula for the whole. i, then, contain the formula for the whole and in effect i am the same as the entire universe. this is an incredible understanding, an awesome truth.

suppose, then, every situation in my life, each story and each myth, contains the story of the whole. suppose each message contains all if i look deeply enough. i don't need to know everything but i need to know as much as i possibly can of what i am touching. if i am faithful to what is in front of me, i am faithful to the whole. (for example, if i am faithful to one discipline or one faith, i am expressing faithfulness to all, for each is a complete representation of the whole. i need not be a follower of every faith but a faithful follower of one.)


my work is to discover what is in the message the Universe is giving me right now. each message represents everything.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

what is love...

a fellow blogger, chai anyone?, posed the question "what is love?" and her challenge intrigued me, set me to exploring within myself what it is that happens inside that i then call "loving" another. what do i feel when i believe i feel love? what do i think it means when i say "i love you"? this has opened my explorations on love (i welcome your own thoughts in your comments).

i couldn't rush my answer but rather spent a couple of days pondering your question. i found i needed to explore deeply and ever more deeply what love really means inside me. i feel this...

infatuation, desire, addiction, need...sometimes are wrapped in the garments of "love" and sometimes even "love" gets covered by them.

in seeking my answer to you i explored and discovered i could not define love as "wanting to be with someone (though often i want to be with someone i love)," "identifying with someone (i felt identifying with someone is a big part of love)," "admiring, respecting, truly deeply liking who and what someone is and how he lives his life"...because i could recognize in my life loving someone without that corresponding belief or emotion. i explored more deeply.

i knew i had different kinds of love (love for a friend, for a teacher, for a relative, for a child, for a lover) and i knew my definition had to fit every expression of love. i also knew of the people i love, there are some i am closer to and want to spend time with more than i do others so love seems to have varying degrees and levels. i looked at all the people i love and challenged myself to find the underlying truth in every one of the relationships.

i landed on this...


for me, love is acceptance. purely, truly accepting another. i can love someone (accepting her) and agree with everything about her, or i can love someone (accepting her) even if i disagree with her. every instance of love in my life seems to be connected with acceptance.

the greater the acceptance, the deeper and richer the love.

i do not claim to be right. these are merely my beginning thoughts on defining love. if my thoughts are errant, however, i will claim that love undeniably brings acceptance...

thank you, chai, for presenting me a probing question and for pushing me to discover deeper things about my own feelings...



photography by permission cindy lee jones

Friday, February 03, 2006

getting it

i know i'm getting
some big things

i am not getting it all

i don't know

all that i am getting

but i know
if i always give it

all that i have,
how much i have
comes closer to all



photography by permission cindy lee jones

don't wallow in regret

stop saying you are sorry
for the way you did the things you did

regret--no companion to truth

for the way things were
was the way things had to be
to experience
to discover
to deepen
to grow

you cannot see
every gift received
from the way it was
and regret
renounces their truth

so stop saying you are sorry
and use it to learn
a new way to be

photo by permission cindy lee jones

Thursday, February 02, 2006

listening as hard as i can

i am listening as hard as i can. listening as hard as i can today will make my capacity for listening even better tomorrow.

i am listening as hard as i can. listening is hard work. perhaps in truth it is our only work, though we are often listening for and to the least beneficial things. i work to listen to the messages around me, messages to me from the Universe, messages from God. i work to listen to people in my life, in my world. listening is holy work.

i am listening as hard as i can. my increased efforts in listening are opening the understanding of my own habits in speaking. now that i work hard to listen to others, i discover the many various ways their messages are unclear, the ways they are diverted into tangents that never return to the thread of the conversation, the ways they get “caught up” in their stories and become no longer present. much of our talking is simply relaying something we have already lived, something that carries little significance to the present. i have been seeing my own self more clearly by listening intently to others. truly listening diminishes my need to speak. and listening is very hard work.

i am listening as hard as i can. i took some time to identify the many things that interfere with truly listening, those things such as preconceived ideas, filters, expectations, judgments, personal needs and desires…it was a fairly long list. truly listening calls for the least service to my own agenda, calls for my greatest openness, my willingness to alter previous ideas.

i am listening as hard as i can. deepening this practice means i lessen the number of things i listen to. listening means staying present, holding this moment and not another. listening means doing my homework, taking notes and following through on concepts and impressions i receive. listening means commitment.

i am listening as hard as i can. listening to people is different from listening to other sources of messages in my world, for listening to people is inter-reliant. i do not merely listen and learn but hold a responsibility to respond and to ensure the one giving to me feels “listened to.” sometimes it means guiding the other back to his or her intended message. listening to others means listening to what they are saying, how they are saying it, and what they are intending to say. it means being supportive and gracious.

i am listening as hard as i can. and it is making all the difference.


photography by permission cindy lee jones

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

opening

i have a beautiful bouquet of flowers, a beautiful abundant bouquet gifted from a loving friend. i received the flowers many days ago and as the week unfolded the flowers became ever more lovely and fragrant, opening to greater beauty and incredible strength. last night as i adored this banquet, this floral feast, i noticed that while most of the bouquet had opened and flourished, three of the lilies were still tightly held. the flowers surrounding were in the beginning stages of diminishing and i noted these three blooms never progressed past being buds. they, i decided, would never be full grown. i would enjoy their loveliness as beautiful white buds, though, and give thanks for what they were as they were.

this morning i awakened to three stunning newly opened pink-and-white lilies. gorgeous, breathtakingly beautiful, strong open lilies surrounded by others in various stages of beginning to wilt. i was so delighted with my brand-new lilies i gathered them up and carried them with me, a beautiful bouquet in their own right.

this became a lesson to me. new beginnings happen at any time. new life begins every day. and sometimes, some of the strongest, most beautiful things need more time in the bud than everything else.

this day i enjoy my lilies and enjoy the awareness of my own ever-opening, ever-awakening spirit.



photography by permission of the artist cindy lee jones
post script
more time has passed and two wonderful new lilies have opened. i have a banquet of lilies around me even though the roses and tulips are long gone. i even have one remaining bud that holds promise of even more opening. my world is fragrant and brilliant (for lilies are indeed glorious) with flowers that continue to open and bloom. no matter i thought the bouquet dying, new life continues to unfold...

awake, o my soul

as part of my various practices (all together which i call "my practice"), i like to read aloud. reading aloud deepens and strengthens that which i read. i read aloud the things i write on this site, i read aloud letters to and from friends when those letters are about wisdom and practice and truth, and i read aloud poetry and prayers.

this week i am reading the poetic prayers of swami premananda in prayers of self-realization.

the following poem is one i like to read aloud daily.

awake, o my soul, awake
thy wisdom unveils the mystery of life
thy power guides the course of the universe
thy peace fills it with joy
o thou almighty, awake
awake in my heart, awake

when my littleness hides thy magnificence in my life
come, come with thy piercing truth
i shall find my freedom in thee

when i, like a coward, fear to face the adversity of life
arouse within me thy ever-conquering power
i shall win life's victory

when sorrows, like dark clouds, oppress my heart
arise with the light of thy bursting joy
i shall radiate thy peace

awake, o my soul, awake
awake in my heart, awake



photography by permission cindy lee jones

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

welcome cindy lee jones

those of you who know my work know i am committed to consistency and quality in the photography that graces my site. i adore my artists and love their expressions. you have come to know well the works of graham jeffrey and that of marc goldring, and the occasional work of ron porter.

today i am adding a wonderful lovely artist to my pages. her work is rich and deep and her spirit equally so.

please join me in welcoming the art and photography of cindy lee jones.

cindy, thank you for the beauty you bring to the rest of us and the spirit you bring to the world. thank you for generously allowing your work to accompany my writing.



photography by permission of the artist cindy lee jones


honoring every thing in our lives

we are given
what we are given
to become
what we are meant to become

our truest response
to each event in our lives
is that of honor
our richest answer
to every thing
is gratitude

for our gifts
are reflections
of where we are
and our reflections
provide guidance
to becoming
what we are meant to become


photography by permission of the artist cindy lee jones

the price of doing

i was sick for nearly a week. exhaustion befell me and i then fell into sore throat, sneezing, runny nose and congestion. i knew i became sick in large part due to "overdoing" it. during the night one night i awakened to a spiritual lesson. i must become more aware of the choices i make in how i spend my time. in the same way i constantly make decisions about spending money, acknowledging the price versus value of everything i buy, and the way i choose what to eat and drink in relation to what my body needs, i must increase my awareness of what i do with my energy. everything i do in the physical world carries a price of energy. some of the things i do are life-giving and some are life-taking, but all of them cost energy. even breathing costs me some of my energy to inhale and exhale. it just so happens the energy cost of breathing nets greater energy, so it is a price i am happy to pay.

everything i do costs energy. everything i see and everything i hear costs energy. random behavior, whether it confirms or pulls me from my path, carries a price. a thought costs energy. a worried thought costs more energy. the cost of an angry thought costs even deeper energy. expectation has a cost. stimulation has a pretty high cost in using my energy. if i go to my mailbox, the act requires physical energy (albeit small). receiving mail might bring stimulation that requires more energy even if i am unaware of it. if i find nothing there, possible disappointment costs more energy. therefore, how often i expose myself to stimulation or expectation determines my level of energy required, which then affects my level of stress. stress compounds price so everything then begs deeper energy. we seem to be especially unaware of the energy spent in thinking and feeling, and in seeing, smelling, and tasting the world around us.

a busy life, a noisy life, a cluttered life, requires much energy. doing too much, following too many paths, being pulled into too many directions...this is a price i was paying and my body became ill. what a wonderful wake-up call. and now, let me be ever more conscious in where i put my energy and how i spend my time.


photography by permission cindy lee jones

Sunday, January 22, 2006

home

we say
i am at work
i am at school
i am at church
i am at the store
but we say
i am home
knowing
even without recognizing
home is more
what we are
than where

photo by permission marc goldring

once more on intuition

two nights ago a dear young friend of mine called from boston, and he, not knowing of my writing here, began to talk to me about intuition. he said he seems to be disconnected from himself, that nothing seems to be working out and he isn’t feeling any sense of direction. i told him a little about my writing on intuition here and here.

i explained to him how i am honoring my Intuition, learning to trust it and respond to it in a way that it, my Intuition, can also trust me. this dear friend interrupted me and exclaimed, “oh, diana, i have been yelling at it and cursing it and kicking it around! so i’ve been doing this all wrong!”

yes, i said, he has been, for our words and our behavior with our own spiritual parts affect how we become. when we want something to grow and develop, we treat it with nourishment and nurturing, with tenderness and care, not chastisement and cursing. and we find courage to trust it for it to begin to stand on its own. parts of our own selves call for the very same things. just as i learned from the one who showed me how to take myself seriously, i learned to look at my Intuition as a whole (holy) entity deserving of my honor and respect. while it is within me, i address it as its own self.

one more thing i would like to add about intuition...

when i received the unsolicited intuition razor, i cut myself the first time i used it. not just a simple scratch, but a deep wound that bled for hours and left a small scar that remains many weeks later. this is a razor designed to be incredibly safe and it bewilders me today to understand how i could possibly have wounded myself so severely in its first use. but it has become a reminder that we are sometimes clumsy in the beginning of using something, including our Intuition.

cooking

today i cook. i chop fresh leeks and swiss chard, turn vegetables into broths, and boil white beans and black beans in separate pots. i cut parsley and peppers and measure oregano and thyme. i peel and slice bright green zucchini and open deep-colored eggplant and golden squash. my tomatoes become sauces rich with herbs and spices. i crush fresh walnuts and shred creamy white cheese. i bake pumpkin into breads and turn cornmeal into muffins. my kitchen is steamy and warm and fragrant as i prepare my food for the coming week. cooking has become a ritual, a meditation, a deep joy.

how can
it be we live in a culture that has nearly completely separated us from experiencing the source of our nutrition, the same nutrition that will become part of our own body. we don't plant or tend or harvest what we eat, we often don't prepare it with our own hands, and many of us do not consume it in its whole form. we are nearly completely separated from the heart of our food, our earth, our own selves. we have disordered eating and obesity and all manner of indigestion. we have depression and stress and uncertainty. we have lost the sense of being at home in our own skin.

i am intimate with the food i eat. i touch it. i clean it and open it and breathe it in. i prepare it and taste it and savor it as fully as i can. i spend time with it. i honor it and bless it and give thanks for it. and it returns to me the deepest health i have ever known.

and again i give thanks.

photography by permission graham jeffrey

Saturday, January 21, 2006

today's meditations

i went into the silence today deeper than i've ever gone before. i use earplugs and have several kinds, having purchased those with the highest decibels in noise reduction rating. i seek deep silence.

i meditated a little at first, then settled into sleep, profound sleep. when i awakened i was in the deepest silence i have known, silence so deep it surrounded me, enveloped me. it felt thick, like i could touch it. the silence was so intense it seemed loud, and yet it was so quiet i could hear my own pulse. i lay still. i stayed for two hours, not wanting to leave.

a little later this same day i am in a different meditation. i have choir music playing from my stereo, hearing beautiful sacred sounds without words. (there are some words being sung, though not in english so i am not interrupted by my own interpretation. mostly the music is simply sacred sound.) i had been writing at my keyboard but the music called me to stop everything and simply be with the music.

i lie flat on the floor with my arms over my head. i follow my Guidance, knowing even the direction of my position creates a specific flow of energy. lying with my arms over my head opens me to a very different spiritual place from that of having my arms lying at my sides. with my arms over my head i am more open, more receiving. i am covered with a small wool blanket i bought in scotland and it shields me from the cool air. i lie flat on the floor and allow the music to carry me. i am in meditation.

lying here i begin to feel my own attachments, my own holding on, though to what i am not completely certain and it seems i don't need to know. i am simply aware of residues of my own holding on and i am called to let go, release my own hold on life, my own expectations, my own demands, my wants, my needs. let go. just receive. life is about trust, for in trusting the Universe there is no need for my own grip. tears run down my face as i go deeper into this practice. i am feeling very subtle pieces of my own insides that grip life and i am called to let go. i follow the calling and practice the feeling of letting go. i realize i will apply this same feeling later when i recognize something specific i am clinging to. for now i am in the practice of letting go. i am broken. i am open. i am crying. i am cleansed.

our essence

searching in all the wrong places
people everywhere
are looking for love

when we understand

we seek
that which we are

we discover
what we are
is love




photography by permission
of the artist graham jeffrey

health

january 20, 2006

today i am honoring beautiful health.

i spent part of today in the hospital in medical tests, not for any current symptoms or injuries, but in follow-up to illnesses ten years ago. my doctors insisted i have gone too many years without checking my progress so i submitted to their tests. i expected the outcome that followed. after i awakened from their anesthesia, they told me what i already knew, that i have beautiful health. perfect, in fact.

ten years ago i lived the american lifestyle. i practiced the habits of most people in my culture and developed medical conditions so common they are barely considered to be aberrant. i was offered medication to "manage" my conditions, but when i left my hospital a decade ago, i determined to find a better way to health than using chemicals that "manage" symptoms. it was the beginning of a journey that led me not only to perfect health, but to a greater connection to my body and my spirit.

i am tempted to make apology for how seemingly slow i was in creating life changes, until i recall i began with no sense of direction, no one to guide me as i started my new life. i struggled to find my way. i had lots of starts and stops but never stopped starting over. today i weigh 21 pounds less than i did at that time (and meet my doctor's goal for me). my blood pressure, my heart rate, and my cholesterol meet medical ideals. i have no traces of any of the problems i lived before (i am writing of my experience in a book-length manuscript). i eat a low-fat, low-sugar, high-fiber diet and consume no meat. i have created a regular physical fitness program i love. i am in spin class and yoga class (adding yoga just this week), i lift weights, and i learn from and practice with a swim coach (i am a beginning swimmer).

just this week i found what seemed to be a small lump in my chest. startled, and a little bit frightened, i investigated further only to discover the same tiny raised area on both breasts. i had found the beginning of muscle development from my new weight-lifting program and i laughed. then i gave thanks.

i love my new life and i enjoy fitting into clothes i couldn't wear for the past seven years. i feel lean and sensuous. but more important than the enjoyment of feeling good in my clothes is something i have not yet found words to describe. my increased health and fitness have brought a deeper connection with spirit and i have come to believe pursuing a life in the Spirit is not without addressing healthful living practices. i am closer to the essence of my own Self without additives, be they in what i consume or be they in extra weight to my body.

and today, a day set apart from others, is a day i celebrate my health.


i give thanks to the Universe, to God, for returning it to me in my efforts, for leading my way.

photo by permission graham jeffrey

Friday, January 20, 2006

meditation

wouldn't it be easy
you might ask
once i find the perfect pitch
to hold that perfect note
all my days

but no
for a hundred different tunes
or a hundred times a hundred
beg me to listen to their own
and i am left to struggle
to hear my song

wouldn't it be easy
you might ask
once i taste the perfect scent
to follow that same fragrance
all my days

but no
for a hundred different smells
or a hundred times a hundred
compel me to indulge
in their own flavors
and i must work to attend
my own sweetness


photography by graham jeffrey

Thursday, January 19, 2006

holding

every morning i spend 30 minutes driving on 16th street, and rather than listening to the radio or carying on conversations, i use this time for what i now call "16th street meditations." sometimes i meditate; sometimes i ponder something given to me. because i committed my time to this, the Universe now speaks to me during this time. yesterday during 16th street meditations i pondered the ability to touch what is deepest inside me.

there is a place inside me that leads me, guides me, a place without thinking and analysis. i call this my Guidance. much of my life has been busy and noisy, frenetic even, and my Guidance was largely unheard and unrecognized. i discovered the clarity of this Guidance when i had an accident that knocked me unconscious for a few moments and left me injured. during the next 20 hours i felt guided in every step i took. i simply kept knowing the next thing to do and felt with assurance i was doing the right thing. in the middle of what could be considered a crisis, i was deeply calm and relaxed. i was unconcerned about consequences, knowing my consequences followed having done the right thing, therefore knowing everything was all right. having spent most of my life questioning, analyzing, and evaluating everything i did before, during, and after the doing, i found this Guided process to be incredibly restful. once i recovered and returned to daily routines, i determined to find this Guidance for more than just crises.

but how do you find something on the inside? feeling and knowing this Guidance was not as easy for me as its nature offers. this Presence is soft and quiet and calls for my most attentive listening. as i quiet the world around me (which includes eliminating or diminishing stimulants and stimulations), i feel more deeply connected to this Guidance, this Presence, this part of me that seems to be the deepest part of Me.

somewhere in my writings during the past several days i referred to this connection as sometimes being as difficult as "holding a thread in a thunderstorm." during yesterday's 16th street meditations i pondered the meaning of my using the word "holding." this connection is indeed very much like "holding," holding an invisible thread, holding my spiritual awareness, holding my connection to Spirit while in a physical world. i decided to look at other expressions of the word "holding" to understand more.

my first thought of the use of the word "holding" was in "holding your breath." but this isn't right. "holding your breath" is not actually holding; it is more accurately "withholding" one's breath. holding this invisible thread connecting me to my Guidance is more reflective of what it is like to hold a thought, to hold an emotion, to hold a fragrance. you can, and yet you can't. you can only maintain being open to its presence. my work is in remaining attentive to it. it feels to me kind of like having a part of me constantly touching an invisible part. when i get too busy or too noisy i lose the connection, and if i go too long being too busy or too noisy i am more deeply disconnected. i now work at holding a part of me in continuous meditation even when i am busy about my life. and i find a greater participation with Guidance and with my life bringing me exactly what i need at exactly the time i need it.

i will undoubtedly return to this writing to make it more clear or more comprehensive. this is my beginning attempt to put new practices into words and i feel nearly helpless to bring it to the surface. i am trying to learn how.