Saturday, December 01, 2007

thought for today

Life does not accommodate you; it shatters you. Every seed destroys its container, or else there would be no fruition.
~ Florida Scott-Maxwell

photography by permission

Saturday, November 24, 2007

peaceful warrior

the world holds many gifts, gifts that feed us and warm us and entertain us, but sometimes among all those gifts is a jewel that shines more brightly than all the others, a treasure that fills us and guides us. i have found such a treasure in the movie peaceful warrior, the story of dan millman and his teacher socrates. what a beautiful, unexpected gem this film is for me.

i saw this movie today (never even knowing about it until today); i will watch it again and again, adding it to my own library.

one of the lines in the movie reminded me of a discussion in my past several posts. dan comes to socrates with an insight claiming anger, hatred, and violence are only products of fear, and i realized he gets it! anger, hatred, and violence, when distilled, are proven to be merely expressions of fear. (this is not the theme of the movie, simply a single statement.)

i hope you will love the film as much as i do.

Friday, November 16, 2007

guest house

a practice that has had profound influence on helping me reduce fear and anger in my life is the practice to accept and welcome each, not resist it or hate it or deny it. i learned this concept first from a speech by Thich Nhat Hanh, and i have continued its practice. i talk to my fear or anger, acknowledge it and say hello, even thank it for its gifts (for everything has a gift, and even fear carries some kind of protection or help even if it is misplaced and even if it hurts more than it helps). i welcome this voice at the table and give thanks and somehow in the acceptance, the potency and the sting are diminished and then the fear or anger is dissolved.

i like the words of Rumi that seem to speak on this same idea....

This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows
who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
--Rumi

photography by permission

Thursday, November 15, 2007

fear, continued

a few days ago i started discussing love and fear as possibly our only two states of being, with every emotion emanating from one or the other of these two states. (it is important that we stop and feel whatever we experience to know if it is fear-based or love-based.)

during the unfolding of that writing, i began to sense fear as all coming from one of two: fear of not being good enough and fear of being alone. fear of success, fear of failure, fear of public speaking, fear of losing a job, fear of losing a lover...every kind of fear seemed to me to come from fear of not being good enough or from fear of being alone.

after further pondering, though, i narrowed down fear of not being good enough to being simply fear of not being enough.

fear of being alone then also begged being narrowed down to fear of not being enough (after all, if we learn/know we are enough, how can we be afraid of being alone?). so i began to see all fear being distilled to the fear of not being enough. all fear, every fear, has a foundation of our being afraid of not being enough. or so it seems to me.

but i failed to include a particular class of fears, and that of the fear of physical pain and fear of death. for some, this class of fears is overwhelming and crippling. this kind of fear might not be so connected with the fears that underlie our attitudes and behaviors and interactions, but it is a present fear for many nonetheless.

for me, i am becoming more of who i am meant to be as i explore each of my own emotions and actions as coming from a position of love or of fear. and in realizing those things with a fear base representing a fear of not being enough, i begin to deepen my understanding that i am enough.

it's kind of funny how it works, but it works. and i become ever less fearful. and ever more grounded in love.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

paradox

the minute i see myself as being arrogant,
i at once step into greater modesty.
the minute i see myself as being humble,
i am immediately less so.
i walk a razor's edge.

photography by permission
graham jeffery

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

love and fear

it seems to me that underneath every emotion and every practice, we have one of two states of being, and all that we experience stems from one or the other. those two states are love and fear. some may suggest love and hate but it doesn't seem to be so. we experience love or fear.

in my beginning efforts to understand my own emotions, i began to practice observing them and uncovering them at deeper and deeper levels. in considering anger, i looked more deeply and found hurt, but beneath the hurt i then discovered fear. can we have any emotional pain without fear being underneath it?

looking at my own tendencies toward procrastination, i found fear as its roots. studying arrogance, or depression, or the need to please, the need to be perfect, the need to be right, or the need to be in control, i found fear to be its base.

being afraid can come in the guise of fear of not being good enough or fear of being alone. until just now i had not thought about their being only two kinds of fear so now i'll need to ponder that too. we could suggest the fear of being wrong--but fear of being wrong has beneath it the fear of not being good enough (if we know the truth of our perfection, which is far more than being good enough, then we have no fear of being wrong). we could imagine the fear of getting hurt, but then the "getting hurt" that we fear is tied to fear of not being good enough or fear of being alone.

now then, it seems to me our work is to recognize and to acknowledge each expression of our fear, and allow it to transform into love. i begin by saying what i am afraid of, aloud, quietly and alone with myself. if i need to, i say it again and again. something about recognizing and acknowledging immediately begins the work. i begin to accept my fear and in the accepting, it begins to change.

love, then, seems to be the only thing that is not fear. and love is the source of everything beautiful, everything strong, everything good.

photography by permission

Saturday, October 27, 2007

To live in this world, you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your life depends on it; and when the time comes, to let it go.
~ Mary Oliver

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

attachment and resistance

Gautama Buddha once said: "i teach one thing and one only: that is, suffering and the end of suffering." and what causes this suffering? he answers this question in his Four Noble Truths: "the origin of suffering is attachment."

i’ve been considering my words recently that resistance is the cause of stress, always the only cause of stress (see post on stress). i’ve given this message often while teaching stress management but only now have i considered its connection to the Buddha’s words. while “resistance” and “attachment” sound like two very different things, it seems to me the Buddha and i are saying something similar. i am saying the “resistance to letting go” of something (which is attachment) as well as the “resistance to accepting” something (resisting something we believe we do not want so we are attached to an opposing action) are always and only the cause of stress.

resistance is not the natural order of the Universe, not the natural flow. and when we practice resistance, we suffer stress.

photography by permission
cindy lee jones

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Christine Kane

i have fallen in love with new music, the sound of Christine Kane. she's young, beautiful, brilliant, funny, smart, spiritual, and honest. in addition to playing and singing, she writes a thoughtful blog and hosts occasional women's retreats (which are quickly sold out). she is a joy, and a gift to the rest of us. you can find her, and listen to a sample of her music, at her website. her tagline is wise counsel and an example of the light she lives: be creative. be conscious. be courageous.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

introducing Spirit First

i am honored to introduce you to my dream of an inclusive meditation center, a quiet sanctuary with beautiful gardens and labyrinths nestled in a wood. you can read of the unfolding of this dream at Spirit First.

stress

for several day i have struggled with how to put my thoughts and my spiritual viewpoints into words to put onto these pages. i've spent my life working on figuring out my spiritual path and now i struggle to put it into words. please forgive my fumbling in doing so.

i started our conversation about stories, about narratives, because frequently people from my audience come to me seeking help for stress management, sometimes people who are overwhelmed with extreme stress, and i find it difficult to offer help without building an understanding of how we live our story based on our beliefs. a corporate seminar break does not allow me the depth of conversation i would like to have.

what do we tend to believe is the cause of stress? traffic? difficult people? money problems? other things? the truth is, there is one cause of stress, only one, and always the same one. resistance. resistance is the cause of stress.

i am not saying resistance is a bad thing—i’m not even saying stress is a bad thing (i spend enough time in the gym to know that without resistance or stress, we would never develop strength). i am saying, though, that resistance is the cause of stress, and if we want stress management, we must know its source.

here is a simple example: last year my sister-in-law died and i grieved her death (for i loved her very much). one might say i grieved because she died, but the real truth is i grieved because i did not want her to be dead (resistance to her death). it is important to distinguish the difference. her death simply is, and simply is what it is. my resistance to it is what causes my grief.


every time we feel stress or pain, we can ask ourself the question, "what am i resisting?" and we then decide if we want to experience it or not (i chose to experience the grief of the death of a loved one but i choose not to grieve the loss of a job or the loss of some material thing).


photography by permission

stories and emotions

sometimes people get upset, sad, or angry, and then, claiming there is nothing they can do about their emotions, they say, "i can't help how i feel. it's just the way i feel." emotional reactions become something automatic, outside control.

sometimes someone will even say it is another person who makes him feel sad, makes him feel small, makes him feel unworthy (which, of course, then makes one into a victim). "you made me feel bad."

over the years i have come to deeper understanding of emotions, and i have learned that everything comes from what we believe, even our emotions. emotions come from our story, from our narrative.

it works like this...when i am driving down the street and another driver cuts me off, my response might be anger or even rage, and i may claim my anger is caused by the other driver's behavior. however, it is not the other driver's action that causes my anger, but rather it is my belief that the other driver is wrong that is the cause of the anger. the action (what happened) is simply what happened. my belief is the cause of my emotion. imagine the same scenario but this time i was cut off by a friend rushing to the hospital to save the life of a child. i believe cutting me off was important for so urgent and valid a need and i am not angry. the action is the same but the belief is different; the action is considered to be acceptable under this circumstance, and the emotion is different.

every time you feel an emotion (negative or positive), i ask you to go deeper and seek within, "what is the belief under this?" take all other parties out of the formula.

the beauty of this is that we decide how we feel by choosing what we believe. (i understand, of course, that changing our beliefs takes some work!)

Saturday, October 06, 2007

stories

i have a story. you have a story too. it goes something like this….

a little girl is born (this much of the story is true). a little girl is born and she is told her name is katie (the name katie is not “true,” but is simply something that is being applied). she is told her name is katie and she is a smithsmart. she is told she is an american. she is told she is a christian. she is told what it means to be a smithsmart, what it means to be an american, what it means to be a christian, even what it means to be a girl. she is told lots of things, some things by the people around her and some things by the voice in her own head. she believes she is strong, or she believes she is weak. she believes she is smart; she believes she is stupid. she believes she is pretty. she believes she is ordinary, or plain, or ugly. she believes she is better than other people, or she believes she is lesser, or trashy, or poor. she believes she is a good student, a good employee, a good boss. or an okay one. or a bad one. she believes what belongs to her. she believes her house is hers, her land is hers. she believes what she believes.

everything, though, is a belief. everything is part of the story. we are living our story, our narrative.

the truth is that each one of us simply “is.” I AM, and everything else is a belief. diana christine is merely a name given to me at my birth, just a label by which to address me. american is simply a brand attached to me. everything i have believed since my birth is part of my narrative. everything you believe is part of your narrative.

and we need a story; we are here to play out a story and learn something from our narrative.

our problems arise when we become overly identified with our story, when we become attached to our story, when we believe our story is truth. we become stressed, we become depressed, and we become confused.

i am not here to suggest your story is not important, that it is not worthy of your best efforts. after all, your story gives a reflection of what is on the inside of you and provides a map for what you need to learn and how you need to grow. but i am asking that you recognize it for what it is, a story, and not “truth.” and i am asking that you spend some of every day in detachment from and observation of your story and your beliefs.

in truth you are whole and complete and pure. you are good. you are strong. you are beautiful. you are perfect.

so now, let’s bring that part of the truth into your story.


beautiful photography by permission

Sunday, September 30, 2007

eat pray love

during my travels of the past month i read a marvelous treasure. eat pray love. in between my many classes and studies, i read. i read while cramped in the middle seat of an american airlines flight, i read while soaking in a jacuzzi in a conference center hotel in las vegas, i read while sitting on a balcony under a bright sun in atlanta, and i read on a cool mountain ridge in the shenandoah valley. i read about italy and laid the book down, and then busyness kept me from getting to india until a week later and indonesia another week after that (it really won't take you a month to read the book). sometimes i cried and the people around me pretended not to notice and looked away. i cried a lot but laughed, too, as i followed elizabeth gilbert’s wondrous journey. liz gilbert shares with us her torment, her longing, her searching, and her coming into being. she is honest and vulnerable and very real as she takes us into her struggle and brings us into her light. what great joy eat pray love is to me—thank you, ms. gilbert, for such a beautiful gift as this book.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

a man in atlanta

i’m in atlanta. last week i taught a course in las vegas, and this week i am in atlanta.

on sunday morning past, i walked about to explore my temporary neighborhood for where i might find fresh fruit, brown rice, tofu, or steamed vegetables (i don’t often find these in my lovely hotels). as i was walking about, a man approached me, and as soon as he caught my attention, he begged me to hear him out. “please,” he implored, “i am not a panhandler, but i need to ask you something.” i smiled at him and listened. he explained his situation of being diagnosed with pancreatitus, now needing to have a prescription filled and finding himself $6 short, thus needing my help. “i am not asking you for the entire $6, just something to help with part of it, and i will find others to help with the rest.” he explained that due to his condition he usually could not work, that he was subject to bouts of nausea and vomiting. he was as nervous as my conference attendees will be today when they must present a business case to finish their course. his hands were shaking and he was breaking into a sweat and had to pause for a moment to compose himself before he continued. “i have the prescription here so you can see….” he held out a piece of paper to me. i didn’t have my glasses on and, well, i didn’t need to see his papers anyway. where has it ever been indicated that the Universe’s request for generosity and an open heart needs to be supported with proof or documentation? i didn’t need his papers. i had in front of me an opportunity to be kind, generous, and loving. i quietly reached into my handbag and pulled out a ten-dollar bill, folded it into a tiny bit and slipped it into his hand. (i didn’t think it needed to be apparent to others walking about that i was helping this man; he was embarrassed enough to be asking for help.) oh, my goodness, he was so grateful and so shocked i thought he was about to pee his pants. tears filled his eyes, a rush of words ran from his lips…he explained that he had just asked for help from church people leaving their morning worship service and they had chastised him, told him he should be working, that he should not be begging. he was humiliated and devastated to be shunned by church people.

there are those who would respond to my story by asking me how do i know he was telling the truth? how do i know he won’t spend the money on alcohol or drugs? i don’t know. and it is my understanding that i don’t need to know. my work on my path is to give to the poor; his work on his path is to use wisely what is given to him. i am called to be loving and open-hearted. i am not commissioned to be his judge.

the man said he will not forget me, not for as long as he lives. he said it is my smile, and my acceptance in listening to him and not pushing him away, that he will remember the most. and you know, i believe he is telling the truth. he will not forget that on a hot day in downtown atlanta, for a moment he was heard and accepted and given to. he will remember.

Monday, September 03, 2007

surrendered

perhaps my greatest courage is in my moments of surrender to the present moment, surrender to what the Universe has for me, surrender to what wants to be, and opening to it joyfully and expectantly.

i would love for life to meet my expectations; i would like to be everything i ever wanted to be--be as good as i've wanted to be, do wonderful things i have imagined, have beautiful things i have dreamed of. i've worked hard, struggled, tried to pay my way. but just when i think i can figure things out, make it all come together, i feel my intuitions calling me to greater surrender, greater letting go.

not letting go in a way of giving up, but letting go into trust, expectation that the Universe has far more to offer than i can ever come up with on my own. surrender is only part of the work. the other part is in being open, expectant, and receiving. perhaps it is the greater part.

my meditations now are to hold my openness to the Unknown, and hold it with surrender and expectation.

i will let you know how this unfolds....

the path



finding our way is the purpose of our path.

“If you see your path laid out in front of you -- step one, step two, step three -- you only know one thing... it is not your path. Your path is created in the moment of action. If you can see it laid out in front of you, you can be sure it is someone else's path. That is why you see it so clearly.”

-- Joseph Campbell




photography by diana christine

Saturday, September 01, 2007

taking in light

it's a simple act, really, yet profound. my friend plucks a tomato from her garden and hands it to me and i take a bite.

it's not the kind of garden you might be envisioning, just a few bits of basil and parsley and tomatoes in between coleus and lamb's ear and morning glory in the front yard of her suburban home. but no matter its unlikely setting, the tomato is a rich, ripe offering from the earth.

the juicy bite is hot, still resonating with the brilliance of the sun, and i suddenly realize i have just taken in light.

tell me, can anything i buy in a supermarket give me this?

photography by permission

Monday, August 20, 2007

loving another

not long ago i began to notice oft-repeated whispers in my poetry that reflect how i am nourished by the love i feel for someone else. it seems to me i am fed…nurtured…fulfilled by the love i feel for someone, that it is not only the “other” who receives the love that i feel. i can adore you, admire you, take joy in you and cherish you, but in so doing, i receive from the love i feel. i am nourished by loving you. this is why falling in love feels so very good.

as i pondered these things it began to seem to me that perhaps i am the only one who can be nourished by the love i feel. after all, no matter what loving, affectionate, tender, or generous things i may say or do for you because of how i feel, in the end it is only i who feels the love i feel for you (as well you are the only one who feels the love you feel for me). we are the love we feel for someone else.

love is a nourishing river and its holder becomes the luxuriant ground made sodden. soaked we become in our own affections.

if this be so, there be no existence, then, of such that is called “unrequited love.” there is no “unreturned” love, for we receive only from the love that we feel within our own inside.

for those longing or desperately seeking to find love, all that is needed is for us to love. as long as we “look” for something or someone outside of us to make us feel loved, it will elude us.

our joy is in the loving…our work is to go forth and find that which we love, as life abounds with so much beauty, so much treasure, so much opportunity for us to pour out ourselves in our loving. and in the pouring out, we are loved.


my wish for you is that you find some thing, some one, some place, some part of life to love deeply and purely. and in your loving, you will be nurtured and fed.

photography by permission

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

trust

when i was a little girl, i learned in mathematics that if it is true that a equals b and it is also true that b equals c, then it must be so that a equals c. i loved the little equation, and its rhythm became a spiritual truth for me. (i referred to this equation once before in a post in december 2006.)

i now read my words in yesterday's writing, my writing of courage. i wrote...if God is worth believing in, then God is worth trusting in...how can i claim belief in Him without trusting Him with my life?

we know it is true that God is Good, God is Love, God is Truth, God is Light, God is Life, and God is within my own self. is it not also true, then, that i can substitute any of these words that equal God and come to a greater, deeper truth? such as this...

if Good is worth believing in, then Good is worth trusting in...

or

if Love is worth believing in, then Love is worth trusting in... and... how can i claim belief in Love without trusting Love with my life?

i trust Love...

i trust the Truth, i trust the Light, and i trust Life...

and then...

i step into the Unknown, knowing if i am worth believing in (after all, God and the Universe are within me), then i am worth trusting in...and i trust Me with my own life...











photography by permission
graham jeffrey

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

courage

i gather my courage
like proper robes
that cloak me
that warm me
that protect me
from bitter winds

i step
into the Unknown
knowing
if God is worth believing in
then God is worth trusting in
and how can i claim belief in Him
without trusting Him with my life?

if courage were not called for
and my robes not needed
what would be the gift in that?

the winds of uncertainty
the chill of fear
they have no hold on me
for i have been dressed
in the best the Universe has to offer
and that of my own valor

photography by permission

Monday, June 11, 2007

ellen bass

sometimes i carry poetry with me, little treasures for me to read during my travels or in moments that i find myself waiting for my name to be called or my number to come up. today i carry words on a crumpled piece of paper in my purse, words written by a brand-new poet (brand new for me). the poet's name is ellen bass and i've known of her for only a few days (thank you my dear kaveri). i read ellen's poems aloud and i read them silently to myself. i read them slowly. i read them carefully. i read her poems and every time i do, i cry.

if you do not know the writing of ms. ellen bass, then please allow me the honor to introduce you to her verse.

If You Knew

What if you knew you'd be the last
to touch someone?
If you were taking tickets, for example,
at the theater, tearing them,
giving back the ragged stubs,
you might take care to touch that palm,
brush your fingertips
along the life line's crease.

When a man pulls his wheeled suitcase
too slowly through the airport, when
the car in front of me doesn't signal,
when the clerk at the pharmacy
won't say Thank you, I don't remember
they're going to die.

A friend told me she'd been with her aunt.
They'd just had lunch and the waiter,
a young gay man with plum black eyes,
joked as he served the coffee, kissed
her aunt's powdered cheek when they left.
Then they walked half a block and her aunt
dropped dead on the sidewalk.

How close does the dragon's spume
have to come? How wide does the crack
in heaven have to split?
What would people look like
if we could see them as they are,
soaked in honey, stung and swollen,
reckless, pinned against time?

--Ellen Bass

photography by permission
cindy lee jones

Sunday, June 10, 2007

back again

i have been absent for a long time and i apologize for so lengthy a departure. i am sorry i have not stayed in touch.

my travels have taken me across the country several times and up and down the west coast. my eyes have beheld wonders of mountains and plains, deserts and lakes, meadows and snow fields. in my many flights i've sat with my nose pressed to the airplane window that i not miss a single breathtaking view. i had my first visit to the splendor of the northwest and repeat visits to the soft embrace of the southwest and the midwest. during the past weeks i saw incredible strength and beautiful bravery in the ordinary people around me, in the native american healer serving his people and organizing a mission, in the 30-year-old iron woman athlete flying across the country seeking a doctor to diagnose her unexplained illness, in the breast cancer survivor traveling to care for her ailing father, in the 12-year-old student traveling to speak before congress in washington. to everyone i met, i thank you for the privilege to be witness to your beauty and your strength. i wish you continued blessings in all you do.

to those of you who wrote to me expressing that you miss me or inquiring into my wellbeing, i thank you. and to you, who has never commented or written but you read me every day, i thank you. thank you for your commitment. thank you for your faithfulness. thank you for your presence. even in your silence, your presence is a contribution to my world. thank you for the gift of you.

i am happy to be back with all of you. i thought of you often. i missed you too.

diana christine

photography by permission

Monday, March 05, 2007

living fully and deeply

during these past weeks i have been deepening the practice of mindfulness, of trust and surrender to the Universe, and in return my life is opening and softening. i have become increasingly more content and ever more calm.

mindfulness, being fully in a moment, is enjoying and appreciating and being with where we are right now and with what we are holding in our hands. feeling what we touch. tasting what is on our tongue. knowing what is right now.

that which is around me is my gift and i want to touch and feel and honor what is given to me. surrender, though, is in not holding tightly, not gripping what has been given. surrender is in holding and loving without grasping, which is resistance. let us love deeply even as we hold softly, loving and letting go.

a beautiful beloved friend recently expressed how it is to love deeply, and his words are so pure i would like to share them with you here.

The Buddhists say the best way to embrace anything in life is to simultaneously embrace that it is already gone. Enjoy the priceless masterpiece in fragile glass today, and experience it deeply and completely, but assume that it has already fallen and shattered.

This attitude encourages deeper living in the moment. If the dream that you have thought waits endlessly and patiently for you (like a vacation in magical France) were to vanish for some unexpected reason (perhaps in the mists of war), what would you do today to make your dream a reality?

If someone close to your heart really was going to be gone tomorrow, what would you say to them today? The question is trite, even banal, but the response is not.

Why not live fully now?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

on my side

"be still my soul, the Lord is on thy side..."

"i'm on your side" we often hear one say to another and in the saying we offer our support to a friend, a colleague, a loved one. "i agree with you" is a bit of what we are saying.

the Universe is not careless in its expressions, not abstract in its messages. "be still my soul, the Lord is on thy side" seems to me to be a message for something deeper, something more true. the Lord is on thy side has become literal to me, opening to me the realization of the presence of the Universe right here, right now, at my side, just as a guardian angel who never leaves her babe.

during the past several days my understanding of the presence of the Source of Life being right here at my side, fully and literally, has begun a deeper shift in my own way of life. my path is unfolding under my feet and i am becoming more of who i am.

photography by permission

message in the music

someone once said to me, everything, absolutely everything, is a message. i have become committed to listening for the messages from the Universe in its direction for my own path. i listen for the messages in conversations around me, in signs and signals that seem to be illuminated as they come into view. this becomes my direction; this becomes my roadmap.

i love the sound of a single note, a perfect musical tone in wind instrument or string or piano, or in voice. one single perfect sound carries me to a spiritual place and moves me to tears and i am opened and i am cleansed. i often give myself music that connects me to the Universe.

as i was practicing yoga one day, a tune was poured from the speakers that caught my attention and i was immediately in love. following the class i sought out the teacher and asked who was the lovely voice on her cd. "
state of grace," she replied, and explained that she had purchased it that morning simply on the sound of its title. i went home, looked up the cd in my i-tunes store, and downloaded three or four of its best titles. i found the music to be peaceful and sweet as i went about my chores in my kitchen. this became my new favorite music. it was a beautiful gift from the Universe.

the next day i found myself having a bad day, a day feeling abandoned and alone, struggling with problems that had arisen from my new work and my new life. where were my messages? what was my direction? why did i feel so alone? in a moment i remembered my friend's words that everything, absolutely everything, is a message, and all the more so those things that become prominent to me, those things that are numinous. and what was numinous to me during this time was the music, the beautiful
state of grace music that i had playing in the kitchen. however, as much as i loved the melody and the tone, i had not looked into the lyrics. i decided to search my new music for messages.

i turned on my i-pod and listened as a piano began to play softly and slowly. "be still my soul...the Lord is on thy side," the words began, and i was surprised the music seemed to be sung solely for me. "stand calm within the storm of grief and pain." how could i have already listened to the songs several times without having studied their lyrics? "be still my soul when light you cannot see." what a perfect and lovely message was coming to me from the Universe through a yoga instructor that i didn't even know and never saw after that day, through a cd i didn't even own but only had in four songs on my i-pod. "trust in thy God to order and provide, through every change his faithful light remains. be still my soul, the restful peace within, through trying times leads to a joyful end."

i needed nothing more in the way of signs and wonders. be still my soul when light you cannot see...through every change his faithful light remains. i was not alone (cannot be alone), and in what seemed to feel like darkness, i was assured his faithful light (which remains true). the song reflected all the more clearly through every change his faithful light remains, and i knew no matter the changes going on in my life, i was supported and held. could an unexpected song from an unexpected place have been any more appropriate to my life?


but wait, the song also said trust in thy God to order and provide... i had never heard that expression before. we've all heard God provides...but trust God to order and provide? what a wonderful understanding filled me as i recognized that even when it seems nothing is working out, my life is being ordered from something Higher. i rested in the thought.

the next day i received an unexpected telephone call from an unlikely source and was asked to teach a course i haven't taught in three years. a contract lost became replaced with a contract received. and my life, as always, is ordered by the Universe and i am provided for. the truth is in the trust.

what are some of the messages coming through in your life? what might be trying to speak to you?

Monday, February 19, 2007

the practice of one relationship

the learning of a lesson is less in its reception and more in its practice. i am practicing what i write and i will attempt to tell its story here.

it happens to be that i was in a store seeking to purchase a printer, and as it happens to be, the customer service was extremely poor. amidst several promises that i would be helped soon, i wisely used my waiting time to read what was available and made my own decision on which printer to purchase, doing so without the aid of technical advice. i took my product code to the cashier and after waiting quite some time in line, finally gave the attendant my code. she checked her stock, told me the item was in the store, but also told me i must await a salesman to get it for me (the same salesmen who had made numerous promises i would be assisted "soon"). i waited. i waited. finally a gentleman became available. now, though, he had my code and assured me after checking that my selection was indeed in the store, but he was now busy searching everywhere to find my requested printer and i was waiting again. i had been in the store for quite some time and by now was growing angry, upset with the lack of service and mourning my time waiting. i wanted to denounce such poor management (and i wanted to complain to anyone around me).

suddenly i remembered how it is that everything around me and everything i experience is within one relationship. there is nothing else. in an instant i became detached from the circumstance and my anger disappeared. i spoke to the salesman (who happened to be the head of technical assistance) and said, "i think perhaps i am not supposed to buy a printer today. there is no need to look further." (as it is he had already searched the store thoroughly, checking everything twice.) he asked me to wait until he checked something one more time so i gave him a couple of minutes and then spoke to him again. "this is not my day to buy a printer and i shall go now." i thanked him kindly for his efforts to help me and i walked out. all the frustration and anger that had been collecting within me during my many stages of waiting were gone and i felt only peacefulness.

this experience is more a feeling and less a thought and i struggle to make it make sense on paper. but that which i perceive in the world around me is merely an expression of things going on in the inside of something else. the printer wasn't coming together for me at this time so i simply let it go and the frustration that had so overtaken me in the store now disappeared in a moment. i held no blame (as in truth there was none). it was not my place to voice a complaint (there are times appropriate for my assessment and viewpoint on how things are but this was not one of them). the Universe was not creating a printer for me on this day, and there was no need for me to blame this poor mis-managed store.

two days later my travels unexpectedly took me next door to a master storehouse of all things technical, and i quickly and easily purchased a printer, one superior to what i had chosen earlier. and i learned a lesson in listening within when the voice of frustration seeks to be heard.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

one relationship

my world has become seamless, unified, whole. i have come to realize (feeling, understanding, and experiencing it) the presence of a single relationship, that of my relationship with the Universe. there is nothing else. there...is...nothing...else. everything is a gift from and an expression of the Universe.

the words written in that one short paragraph express my most profound spiritual experience.


there is only the Universe and me. and since i, too, am an expression of the Universe, the final truth is there is only One, and i am part of that One.

i have always read and heard, and believed i knew, that everything comes from God. you probably know the scripture as well as i do that "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights..." as well as many other such references.


understanding it more deeply...everything is that which is above. the meaning of these words has led me to so much more...i have only one relationship. everything else is an expression of this relationship. and my awareness of this changes everything and changes my response to everything.

i feel bereft...i struggle to put this profound experience into words.

every gift is from the Universe...and that would be so regardless of the judgment we place on such a gift. we judge "wealth" and "bankruptcy" very differently but both are gifts of experience and both bring lessons and opportunities to us. and every gift comes from above.

during the next days and weeks my writing will reflect how this awareness is playing out in my physical life. it's a little bit like this...when a disappointment comes my way i have no need to direct frustration onto the gift (the apparent cause of frustration) or even to become frustrated, but instead i go directly to the Source in a state of trust.

here is perhaps a more direct way to write of it...i entered my new year with the assurance of enough contracted work for the year that would be just enough for me to pay my bills. however, as january unfolded, the work began to fall away and january and february became a time with no income. my response was continued trust, and whenever i felt any emotions about it, i spoke of those emotions directly to the Universe rather than to the contractor, as both actions (the assurance of the work and the loss of the work) came from the Universe rather than from the contractor (who is also a gift from the Universe).

as it came to be, after i made the choice to leave my job and pursue my life's dream, some bonuses and unanticipated funds came into form. enough, as it turns out, to get me through january and february. i continue to be held by, supported by, and guided by the Universe.

words feel so completely inadequate to describe how i now experience life. it's a bit as though i sense the Universe on the "other side" of everything, shaping and creating everything that i see and hear, and my relationship with everything is in reality a relationship with the Source on the other side.

do you recall the movie Ghost when demi moore danced with patrick swayze through dancing with whoopi goldberg? that's kind of how i feel...when i dance with you or with a flower or with a scent or a sound, it is dancing with God through you or the flower or the scent or the sound.

this awareness does not absolve me of responsibility to my world and those in it. you see, if the Universe interacts with me through a person, my response to the Universe is through that same person. the Universe gives to me through a person and i give thanks to the Universe by expressing my thanks to that person (although i very well will also give thanks directly to the Universe). neglecting the person (the gift) is the same as neglecting the Universe.

i hope i am making sense to you, as this experience so fills me and guides me now.

photography by permission

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

greater trust

i wrote in my february 9 post practice that i seek greater trust in the Universe...a deeper practice of trust and a greater understanding of such trust.

i considered this very deeply. if i believe in something more than my physical self, if i believe in God, then what would it mean to trust this, truly trust what i believe, and what would that kind of trust feel like?

i have sought to live this kind of trust and now bring it into practice. it feels awkward to use the word "practice" regarding trust, for trust feels more like a way of being than it feels like a practice, which may sound to some like action. on the other hand, our actions are shaped by the presence or absence of trust.

i spent much of the past two years exploring spiritual places through my meditations, and the depth of my meditation experience has become the foundation for my state of trust. i now know how i am held by the Universe, how i am supported and guided, and that understanding has led to the birthing of trust.

i practice trust, but i could not do so without the silence or without listening closely. trust is an active practice in the sense that i must be attentive to my Guidance and to that which is within, not only in the work of listening for the Guidance but the willingness to follow its lead. it is a careful practice.

my writing of trust appears to be "spiritual talk" or perhaps some sort of philosophy, when in fact, the practice is quite physical. as a writer who is working at home without the assurance of a paycheck, my life is an expression of trust.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

recognizing aggression

i seek to recognize every element of aggression within me and allow it to melt away.

for a bit of time now i have engaged in the practice of feeling what a thing feels like on the inside, feeling its vibration. it is almost as though feeling the individual threads comprising a seamless masterpiece (the whole of what's inside). when i am attentive to what a thing feels like deep inside, i can feel if it is surrender or acceptance or resistance or aggression. aggression is, of course, a form of resistance, but it feels different in its intensity and purpose.

i began singling out the feeling of aggression when i practiced "driving meditations," the "16th street meditations" that i once enjoyed (i no longer drive down 16th street to an office). i began to identify the feeling of aggression when i used the gas pedal (much non-highway
use of acceleration is in the area of aggression). i felt what that vibration feels like and from there began to check it within myself.

an action within me that is an aggression may not be an act of aggression within you, and the same act can be performed from or not from a place of aggression. for example, i can go to the gym and work out (which i do often) and go home and eat a healthy meal, and it is done from a place of loving myself and loving my body. on the other hand, i can go to the gym and work out and then go home and eat a plate of healthy "diet" food but doing both from a place of hating how i look and desperately trying to "change" myself into something (seemingly) more lovely (which is something i used to do). this is an act of aggression whereas the previous description was an act of love. i cannot arbitrarily list what is an aggression and what is not without looking beneath the act. (many times, though, aggression is clearly felt and recognized.)

speed is an aggression--trying to "hurry up" anything is an aggression. imposing myself into or onto something is an aggression. the desire to change anything from a place of hatred is an aggression--only change sought through loving a thing is not aggression (such as changing an unhealthy habit to a healthy one). i am particularly attentive to listening within to determine whether encouraging myself to another workout is a challenge that will strengthen me or if it is an aggression that could harm me (i use this example because i work out so many times a week that i must listen carefully). loudness is an aggression (remembering, of course, that silently ignoring someone can be a form of aggression). for some of us, much, if not most, of our actions come from a place of aggression (because of a sense of desperation). aggression is become an accepted part of american life.

during this new year i will continue to observe my own forms of aggression and deepen my understanding of how aggression plays out in our lives. i will come back from time to time to add to my writing on this matter. i happen to live in an aggressive city (politics is practiced in aggression) in an aggressive nation and as i am part of the whole, i want to be attentive to such a practice.

photography by permission

Monday, February 12, 2007

finding silence

in a way, i "stumbled" into my practice of silence (though "coincidence" is a myth). in a separate study i was observing my tendency toward an addiction to stimulation (one i share with the american culture), and i began the practice of reducing stimulation in my daily routines. i began to feel what i was feeling every time i reached for the radio dial during my workday, and each time i reached for the radio dial, i would stop myself and instead hear the silence. i discovered that "listening" to the silence is an activity that is different from simply being surrounded by silence. i took the practice home and began actively listening to silence as a meditation. and i entered a deep and profound world.

as i came into the practice of silence, life around me began to shift and soon led to the changes that brought me to this place of freedom from debt and obligation, which became the freedom to do just what i want to do. i need to express, however, that for me the practice of silence is not a "tool" for "getting" (that feels like consumption). the practice of silence for me is one of surrender, not one of strategy. pure and profound silence is inconsistent with desire and want. it is not a place of request. i do not want to mislead anyone into considering the practice of silence as a means to receive but i do want to acknowledge that the world around me seems to come into greater alignment as i continue the practice of silence. i will continue to explore other elements that are present such as surrender and trust (one could, of course, have a very different experience with silence if variables are different).

despite its rich gifts (or perhaps because of them), the practice of silence is a discipline that calls for my mindfulness to keep it present in my life.

may i be ever mindful to spend part of each day in silence.

sounds

it seems to me...

when we begin to increase the volume of that which is around us, our music and such, it is a signal that something on the inside seeks to be listened to. we reach for the dial to turn up the volume to hear something more. it is not something "out there" that wants to be heard, but rather something on the inside. in someone's more troubled times, you might notice him turning up the volume (sometimes, even, to drown out a voice of despair). our solace, however, is in spending time listening to the silence in such times, and listening to that which is within.

when we are more connected to the voice of the Universe, when we practice listening intently to our Spirit, we need less volume in that which is around us.

or so it seems to me.

i hope one day i have better words to describe what i am learning in the practice of silence.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

silence

it used to be i found it difficult to experience a thing without telling of it, and i knew a thing more by how i spoke of it. in a way, it seems, i experienced myself from the outside in.

these days, though, i experience a thing and struggle to find words to express it. my experience is from the inside out.

my silence is become more profound. i know there be some who would suggest silence is the absence of sound but oh, silence is more a presence and less an absence. silence is what is; it is from whence all else comes. i spend some time every day in deep silence, usually with ear plugs. it is become my place of residence. if i am too long away from this, i become less of who i am. you have undoubtedly heard, or perhaps have used, the expression "i just wasn't myself"...in the silence, this is where one becomes found, and too long away leads to "not being myself" or at least not fully so.

silence is the place of creation, from whence all else comes. if you want a thing created, go to the silence.

i meditate. sometimes i lie on my back and listen to the sound of my own heartbeat. i live on the edge of tears. i give thanks.

and each day, i practice silence.

photography by permission

Friday, February 09, 2007

practice

once upon a time it was that in the beginning of a year i set goals. resolutions, i called them, just like you perhaps.

this year i am not about making resolutions, at least not in an outcome-oriented kind of way. this year i am about practice.

instead of looking to see what i would like to achieve, during january i spent quite some time looking at what i would like to practice. instead of exploring what i want to do, i sought to know how i would like to be. what do i seek to practice.

after all is said and done, we are what we practice. we are not a thing achieved but instead we are the practice. what we practice is what we become.

what do i want to practice this year?

i seek to become ever more mindful, and as much as lieth within me, to be fully present in the moment that holds me. this is my rightful place. this is my place of wholeness.

i seek to enlarge the awareness of my own intentions (which is a part of mindfulness), especially in recognizing from where i am acting. in any moment am i coming from a place of ego or from a place of Spirit?

i seek to become less resistant. i seek to watch myself and observe every subtle form of resistance, for resistance is the heart of every struggle, the underpinning of every anguish. there is no suffering without resistance. and my work to be in ever less judgment, this is part of being less resistant, for judgment is a form of resistance.

i seek greater connection to my own Intuition, a practice of deep listening to and trusting (knowing) my Intuition.

i seek greater trust in the Universe, a deeper practice and greater understanding of such trust.

i seek silence as a daily practice, for herein i touch the deepest part of the Universe.

i will be deepening a number of spiritual practices during the coming weeks and will bring them to these pages, but these present my foundation, as all else extends from these.

this is my resolution.

may i be ever faithful to my own practice.


photography by permission

Thursday, February 08, 2007

2007, a whole new year

as the calendar turned from 2006 to 2007, my life took upon changes for which i am deeply grateful.

this is my fiftieth new year and what better time is there than now to deepen my experience and become more faithful to my own path.

on the last day of 2006 i left my secure job to come home to pursue my writing and my speaking. i contracted that I will train an audience one week each month and i will then write and edit during the remaining three weeks. this is more wonderful a gift than i can find words to express. i have cried many tears with much joy in this gift from the Universe. to be free to do what my heart desires…there is no greater gift.

in continuation of changes to support my life’s work, during the month of january i became debt free for perhaps the first time in my life. my heart is filled to overflowing even now in my putting those words into print. while we often feel that circumstances and events happen “to” us, we all know that we create our world and our experience. i have suffered the experience of debt, of obligation. it seems to me we take on debt in a similar fashion to our taking on unnecessary weight of any kind (such as body weight or clutter weight or task weight). i had created for me a world of obligation and finally in this fiftieth year i am debt free at the same time i am become free of obligation to a boss or to a corporate clock. i am humbly thankful for so great a gift.

i want to share with you as my journey progresses this year and as i struggle to learn (for indeed learning and growing continue to be a struggle). i want to share many of my lessons along the way. my purpose in this post is to let you know the underpinning of my current experience, and my continued writing will be to discuss some of what is opening up to me.

someone discovered how it is that i am at home pursuing the work i love, and she queried if i am “independently wealthy.” i smiled, for i have no such wealth (in truth my courage is bigger than my bank book and my faith is bigger than both). but i have the wealth of enough money to get started (and with no debt) and i have work scheduled along the way to continue on this path. i am of necessity more frugal than i have been in a long time, but even this seems to be a holy practice. i am much more mindful of all that i spend and all that i consume. how important a practice this.

along with the writing and editing, i have made a commitment to physical fitness (it is also part of a writing project). i began the year with a cycling class and each week added a new discipline until now i am in my full program. every week i have several sessions each of cycling, yoga, weight lifting, and swimming. some of my messages from the Universe come through my fitness practice and from my teachers of such.

in the beginning of january i felt an incredible sense of freedom. i was surprised by how profound a freedom i felt in not being obligated to an office, to a timeclock, to an employer. i have settled into less exuberance in my freedom but continue my awareness of its profound gift.

while i am in a most beautiful place, it is not without struggle. on the first day of the new year i suffered food poisoning. i was terribly ill and in some of my moments i felt i would surely die. i spent several hours in extreme pain until the room began to spin and i fell to the floor. suddenly on this first day i thought about the fact that i had not yet paid for my new health insurance and in this moment i realized what it must feel like for someone unemployed or someone outside that net of safety. it was a horrible feeling knowing that whatever was wrong with me could cost me more than i could repay in the rest of my lifetime if i had to go to the hospital (and i could certainly be in debt forever). fortunately i did not require medical attention, i survived my excruciating pain, and several days later i recovered from its lingering effects of dehydration and such. (and i bought my health insurance under which i am covered for the next several months.) i then went about looking for some of the messages contained within this experience and one is that of a call to my attention to what i am eating…what i am taking in whether it is something i am eating or reading or hearing. be attentive to what is allowed into me, that it be holy and pure, that it be such as to contribute to the intention of my journey.

and my year begins….

beautiful photography by permission

Monday, February 05, 2007

a blessing

today i gave a ride to a stooped old lady. i was going to my yoga class, headed down a side street, when i saw her standing outside her home in the bitter cold, something near nine degrees cold. she stood on her concrete steps and waved at me as though she were expecting me and i rolled down my window to say hello. i don’t know her, really, though i met her several times during early morning walks a year ago. her name is anna. she said, “can you take me?” and i answered, “yes.” i didn’t know where she wanted to go and i wondered if i would be late for my yoga class but at the same time i knew that giving this woman a ride was the only thing to do. you might say it was a nice thing to do or maybe even the right thing to do. i simply know it was the only thing to do.

when she got into my car she asked me my name and i told her, “diana…diana christine.” every time i meet her she asks me my
name and every time she asks i don’t mind telling her. she is a very old woman. she can barely speak english and my spanish is poor but i understood her to say she wanted to go to church. not the church across the street but still, one that was only a few blocks away. i was happy to take her to church. she explained that she is from ecuador but i couldn’t understand anything else she was trying to say to me (i can speak a lot more spanish than i can understand when another speaks to me). we smiled a lot and talked about how cold it is. at least that is what i think we talked about.

when we arrived at the church she asked me to bless her, and in fact, she wouldn’t get out of the car until i blessed her. i stumbled through a blessing but she kept saying, “bless me.” i thought perhaps she wanted me to make the sign of the cross (which i don’t know because i am not catholic) so i tried to do that but it seems i didn’t do it right and she shook her head and again she said, “bless me.” finally in her exasperation she said thank you, and climbed out of the car.

after she left i prayed that she be warm, that she be comforted and be at peace, that she feel her own strength. i prayed her blessing. alone in the quiet of my car, i blessed anna in all that she is and all that she would be. i think this time i got it right.

perhaps it is that the wizened part of me, the “old girl” part of me, seeks a blessing. perhaps a part of me seeks honor, seeks to be lifted, seeks to be comforted or strengthened or gifted. and maybe it is that another part of me seeks to rise to the occasion and proffer the blessing. i will keep trying until i get it right.

for today, perhaps the most important thing i did today or maybe the only important thing i did today, was give an old woman a ride in the bitter cold and offer her my blessing.


photography by permission

Sunday, January 21, 2007

awakening

i hungered all my life
to be awake
as i am this moment
mySelf shifted to the front
all else reduced to second place

here, now
light embraces me
shadow supports me
silence speaks to me
noise has become a muffled din

everything around me awakens
snow draped over branches
reflects radiance from a moon that guides me
and i have never known greater beauty
than what enfolds me now
i drink deeply

i hungered all my life
to be awake
as i am this moment
i am at once every~thing
and no~thing at all

it could be a fearful hope
to be able to see clearly
to know truth, suffering, the way things are
yet in its rendering
Consciousness reflects joy with every sorrow
confers salve for its own wounds
otherwise it is incomplete

i struggled
even more
than i am likely willing to lay claim
yet i found
in each dreadful labor, new birthing
and never an effort borne in vain

hard-won, my Awakening begs devotion
i protect it as i would my new-born child
i want no slumber
for fear when sleep is wiped from my brow
i will not remember as i am now
but Consciousness seeks my trust
what is, Is, and shall remain

so i lay me down to rest

i hungered all my life
to be awake
as i am this moment
and this moment
is for a lifetime