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