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.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

yoga

last night i sat on a black mat on a gleaming wood floor in a room filled with the sound of birds twittering and the mournful call of a lone reed instrument. i had come to my first-ever yoga class. i'm not sure what i was expecting other than a meaningful workout. i simply knew this was the next step in my fitness program, one leading to greater wholeness and flexibility. i recognized yoga is a physical practice for many spiritual people but somehow that awareness was in my head and had not yet met with any understanding on my part. i had come here to work out.

as we began our first posture the instructor passed through the room and placed drops of essential oil on the wrists of all the participants, and slowly the fragrance of lavender surrounded us and became us. the frenetic pace of the rest of the gym was now beyond our borders and we were silent in a scented room with the sound of birds. the instructor began.

the instructor was a beautiful young woman with radiant health who spoke with a careful cadence and an attentive tone but with a sense of detachment. i was intrigued with her voice being so constant, so thorough, yet careful not to make any personal contact. in my speaking profession my effectiveness and my success are attributed to my ability to make a connection with my listeners. in the dance with my students my efforts are to hold them and teach (because of my intense connection with people i spend most of my non-working time alone. if i did not do so i would be completely spent.). in her dance with her students her efforts were to lead without touching. she was there and yet she was not there. the room was filled with men and women but we were each in a private meditation.

our steady, thoughtful movements stretched me and opened me. if i had not already been consistently increasing my physical training, this class would have been far more difficult for me than it was. we were supposed to be working with our eyes closed (the entire hour becomes a constant meditation), but i needed to open my eyes frequently to see what the instructor was doing. (lucky for me i had placed my mat in what i thought was the back of the room only to discover it became the front of the room. the instructor was now immediately in front of me.) i was fascinated with how she could bend and move her back, shoulders, and arms. i had never known a back could be moved the way she moved hers. i wondered what i will be able to do after several months of this. i didn't know the yoga language and appreciated her thorough instructions for each move.

at the end of the course the instructor not only invited but welcomed students to meet her, to talk with her, and i now saw she was able to be in our world with a sense of detachment without touching, yet also carried the ability to be warm and connected. this became my greatest lesson for the evening, this demonstration of how to be private in a crowded world. my hour in the mind/body studio went far deeper than stretching my muscles but became a quieting, a slowing down, a becoming.

this morning i awakened to discover every muscle in my body is stretched and sore.

Monday, January 16, 2006

post script to intuition

my greater depth in being able to feel my inner Guidance has come from my own commitment to follow it. someone once said to me i must take my ownSelf seriously, be committed to my own Guidance and my own language. i had never treated mySelf as i would treat another, one that needed me or responded to me. i made a deal. i would be attentive to every Intuition that came to me and i would pay attention to what did and didn't work out. as the Universe would see my commitment and my following through, i would become as much trusted by It as It would be trusted by me. this i learned from what someone once said to me.

i started with little things. i would be rushing out of the house on a clear-blue-sky day and a tiny voice would say go back for my umbrella. my commitment was to follow it and i did. anytime i accidentally overlooked or brushed aside the little voice, i noted the Intuition had been correct. and i always give a spoken thank you for every Guidance given. this has become a wonderful new way to live and i am beginning to find Direction in bigger, (seemingly) more important things. but the practice began with the small stuff.

i enjoy less stress as my Guidance increases and i get to think less and follow more. and my life is unfolding with much greater awareness and perfection...

intuition

the Universe provides exquisite, profound support for our journey, but we live in a culture filled with so much noise and movement it has become impossible for most to feel the gifts provided.

i came from a childhood built on scriptures and sermons and i had chosen my favorite words to be "be still, and know that I am God..." and yet until very recently i was almost completely out of touch with feeling the profound presence of the Guidance the Universe has given me.

~ ~ ~

i was struggling with what is called Intuition, the experience of knowing or sensing without the use of rational processes, a sensing on the inside, a knowing in the physical world from a source in the spiritual. i never sought or claimed anything like being a psychic (a practice not blessed by the church in my youth), but when what seemed to be powerful, deep intuitions within me struggled to survive (i have had a couple of what seemed to be powerful intuitions in my life), i questioned the truth of my having any sense of connection. i didn't question that it works for other people, but i began to believe it wasn't inside me. just about that time i received an unexpected, unsolicited package in the mail. it was a newly marketed razor for women, called Intuition. well, call me slow or blind or unconscious, but the significance didn't hit me at first. as i continued to struggle with feeling any certainty about my own inner Guidance, i stepped into my shower shortly after receiving the unexpected gift and the words INTUITION cried out to me while i stood under warm waters pouring over my naked body. i suddenly began to see some significance in my receiving this unsolicited product. (i didn't find anyone else who received this expensive new razor as a marketing ploy.)

this message might have been enough for many people (and would be for me now), but several weeks later i found myself struggling again with trying to believe in my ability to feel true Intuition. during this time of uncertainty, one day i chose to wear a different perfume from my regular practice, one from a new miniature bottle. i sprayed it over me without looking at it and went on about my business. the perfume was lovely, hovering about me in a sweet presence the entire day. when i returned to my bedroom that night i made a point of looking to see what was the fragrance that had held me the past several hours. i picked up the tiny bottle and read the words in all capital letters, INTUITION, by estee lauder. i knew then my own Intuition was trying to speak to me.

the Universe has given Intuition to everyone for guidance on our paths. but what about sensing or feeling something that doesn't work out? i found my answer in the television program "medium" on nbc. i love the richness of this show as i watch the leading character practice with her gifts. she makes mistakes, she struggles to get it right, but she consistently grows in her understanding. becoming attuned to our own Intuition is not unlike building our body in fitness practices. we must be attentive, study, practice, and grow. and we will make mistakes. a gift is not given fully developed, be it playing concert piano or knowing our own Intuition.

as i have become more attentive and more accepting, the Universe has become far more active, far more present, in supporting me and bringing exactly what i need at exactly the time i need it. it sometimes seems almost like miracles or like magic, but it is simply the way of Life. what we need is there if we are looking for it and practicing how to recognize it.

as i have been quieting my life, as i have been removing various stimulants and stimulations, as i have been shielding myself into practices of extreme silence, i have begun to "feel" my own vibrations and my own inner Guide. i am becoming far more aware of my own Intuition. it does not appear in the boldest letters or in the strongest voice, but is found in the places of greatest stillness.

learning from "king"

i usually return to read my writing again and again to seek it for all its messages, all its meanings. writing and reading "king" has been significant to me.

if we are an extension of God (as expressed by some disciplines), if we are God's hands and feet (as expressed by other disciplines), then it seems God is experiencing humanity through our personal experiences. if i am "king," it is because God seeks to experience kingship through me. if i am "not a king," it is because God seeks to experience what it is like to be not a king. this makes every experience deeply holy.

i am usually pretty hard on myself. i am disappointed when i take a long time to understand, when i wrestle with a problem, when i fumble with life. and yet, if God is experiencing life through me, if every experience is deeply holy, then my own struggle is holy too.


knowing this makes me soften and accept the beauty of my own struggle.

bad dreams

i was having a very difficult time, struggling with feeling strongly supported and feeling falling apart back and forth and all mixed together. during this difficult time my two beautiful grandchildren came to visit and i took great joy in them. once they fell asleep in my bed, however, i suddenly felt the weight of my internal crisis and couldn't sleep. i left the room and spent several hours tossing and turning in my struggle and found sleep only many hours later. exhausted when my granddaughter awakened early the next morning, i said, "sweetie, i had kind of a bad night and i need to try to get a little more sleep."

she lovingly asked me, "did you have a bad dream?"

not wanting to reveal anything more to her i replied, "yes, something like that."

then it suddenly hit me. she was right. i was having a bad dream. this Dream, this Illusion of my own myth, of the perceived world around me, had turned into a bad Dream instead of the Consciousness of my Truth. i had become lost in my perceived loss and had forgotten the Truth of my holiness, of my being supported and loved and wanted by the Universe. i was having a bad dream.

i didn't go back to sleep but instead it came to me to breathe the world around me, the room and the furniture and the children, look at them and touch them and feel them and breathe them, that i might come back to my ownSelf. as i increased my awareness of everything around me, the pain inside me softened and my world began to right itself.

it works the same if i have been told i've lost my job, if i have been given a negative medical diagnosis, if i have lost someone dear to me. breathe the world around me until my perceptions have an opportunity to become right side up. anguish is a misperception; loss is an illusion. our Truth is wholeness, perfection, and connection with God. i thank God for finding my way back.

and i thank God for little girls who know we all have bad dreams.

Friday, January 13, 2006

king

you, who would be king
cannot be truly king
unless you see and understand
it is not you
but the one you represent
who is the king

you, who are not king
are not the one
who is not king
but rather
the one you represent
seeks to understand
what it is
to be not the king

God within

i have always been drawn toward the use of the word "without" for its definition "outside" as in "the air within and the air without."

i feel perhaps the correct writing of God within should have been like this...

if you believe
God is within
then pray
to the One within
and not pray
without

i keep feeling drawn toward deep attention to the direction of prayer, the direction of communion, the direction of seeking strength and sustenance. the word "without" then brings me two meanings and speaks to me that praying without (outside) leaves me without (lacking, empty).

that's what i am feeling, anyway.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

God within

if you believe
God is within
then pray
to the One within
and not pray
toward without