Category Archives: Ease

#smallstone: Ease and Anxiety

sleepysam02As I listen to the guided meditation, “Finding Ease in the Moment,” Sam shifts in his bed behind me. I feel a surge of anxiety in my body, the cold tingle of fear, the rush of panic, the burning ache in my throat and chest and stomach. I breath in deep and then out, trying my best as instructed to find the “okayness of this moment.”

Full Moon Dreamboard: Full Worm Moon

Jamie says of the Full Worm Moon:

I share all the time that when I first heard the phrase “Full Worm Moon,” I was less than enthusiastic, but as I discovered that this March moon is when the earth starts to soften and the burrowers of her soil find their way to the surface, I started to change my mind. What if we took our cue from spring and allowed ourselves to soften? What if we let what’s within us find its way to the surface? What tender dreams would be revealed?

Under this Full Worm Moon, open your awareness. Pay attention to the the dreams that are wiggling their way to the surface. What wishes are asking for your attention? What is beginning to emerge? Let your dreamboard guide the way.

What dreams are emerging? What’s stirring?

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As they all do in their own way, this dreamboard surprised me. I began with the guess that it would be about my intention to train to be a yoga teacher, about the ecourse I’m developing, the way I want a small and simple life that is at the same time deep and wide.

What came through that I didn’t expect was focused on art and creativity, healing and courage and practice.

Cobra pose
back bent
heart open
eyes turned towards the sky.

I want art to take me
up and away
away from the expected and the normal.
To me.
Art is the first phase
in a spiritual journey
toward the great mysteries.

And again, Kaun Yin, the Bodhisattva of compassion.
She who hears the cries of the world.
She holds a lotus flower, the innate purity of Buddha nature.
She holds a sutra, the enlightened wisdom of the Dharma.
She holds a mala, the vow of the Bodhisattva to save all beings from suffering.
She holds me.
May I ease suffering,
in myself and the world.

Making a positive difference means:
being more conscious
having the courage to create
being calm and focused
cultivating peace of mind
and the art of asana
staying relaxed
practicing contemplation
allowing the healing power of creativity
inviting grace
giving, making space
breath, life, and vitality of the spirit
opening to love, to joy.

Art & gentle words heal.
Move with ease,
stretch, and breathe.
By balancing effort with ease,
learn to stay open to experience.

There are a thousand different ways to access creativity.
(“A thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground,
a thousand ways to go home again”).
Each one, at its bottom,
is about tapping into the stillness of each of us
call it grace, God, or Big Mind
the place, the moment where all things are possible.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: Ease isn’t just for special occasions. It isn’t just for when I am resting or celebrating, when all the work is done or I am on vacation. There doesn’t have to be a desperate need or national holiday. I don’t need special permission or free time. I don’t need to earn it. Ease can be how I move through the day, through my entire life if I choose–content, satisfied, free, calm, spacious, sane and awake.

2. Truth: Keeping an open heart is difficult, which is why I train to steady my mind. Having an open and porous heart, I am extra sensitive to noises, light, movement, smells, energy and emotions, and the general chaos of an environment which includes other beings and all their stuff and nonsense. I am vulnerable. I can easily get overwhelmed, which can lead to panic, depression, and other states of dis-ease.

Keeping my heart open is brave and dangerous work. As Ram Deev said in a recent blog post, “Your heart wants you to grow, to be challenged, to face difficulties that seem insurmountable. It wants to nudge you closer and closer to the edge of oblivion.” And yet, instead of hiding, running away, resisting, or denying reality, I have made the conscious choice to keep my heart open, to let it all in, to allow it to touch me, to break me even.

I hold myself steady with the help of various practices, primarily yoga, meditation, writing, self-care, walking my dogs, and loving-kindness. I do all this because an open heart allows for a life of kindness, curiosity, freedom, and joy, along with what it knows best: love, deep and enduring, unshakable.

3. Truth: I am like the sky. I am not the clouds or the weather. I am not the birds or a plane or balloons. I am not the moon or the sun. I am the clear blue spacious openness, underneath and above all other phenomenon. My basic goodness, my innate sanity is unchanged by thoughts or emotions, unaltered by the weather.

We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips that we lay on ourselves—the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds—never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake. ~Pema Chödrön

One Wish: That as each of us walk our path, face our own obstacles and struggles, we can so so with ease and maintain an open heart, and trust that we are basically good and sane, as spacious and clear as the vast blue sky.

The Truth, Part Two

P.S. Yesterday when I wrote about the truth of my creative process, I left something out. Turns out it wasn’t the whole truth. I told you about the difficulty, the mess and the moodling, but didn’t to say anything about the moments that are easy. There aren’t many of these, so it’s no wonder I didn’t tell you, they are easy to forget amidst the fuss of the rest, but they are there and worth mentioning.

For example, that post, the explanation of my process was easy. I’d sat with my journal after completing the Reader’s Write piece, reflecting on the experience. I didn’t plan it as a blog post, wasn’t thinking I’d share it, was simply contemplating, figuring out what I thought, looking for meaning, working towards understanding by writing it down. It was that reflection, fully formed with only minor edits for clarity and style, that I shared with you, that I typed and published.

So I left that out, kind and gentle reader: sometimes my process is easy. I do something naturally and for myself, no resistance, no pushing or trying, it just happens–easy. Sometimes creating starts out this way, without any struggle. I am grateful for it, but I don’t hope, don’t expect it. Whether it’s difficult or easy, I do the same–show up for the process with an open heart and allow it to happen, invite and accept whatever wants to come.

Full Snow Moon

From Jamie’s post: “Sometimes we bury our dreams and desires deep within, as though hiding them under layers and layers of snow. Protecting them. Protecting ourselves. Waiting until the time is right for them to grow. Now is the time to tune into your heart, to let your intuition and your dreamboard express and reveal the dreams that are hidden inside. Let the creative process take you below the surface, beneath the layers of safety and protection, guiding you to the innermost dreams sparkling in your soul.”

The Full Snow Moon asks: “What desires lie deep within?”

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Ganesha, lord of beginnings,
remover of obstacles,
master of intellect and wisdom.
The elephant is a symbol of luck, fortune and protection,
and thought to be a blessing to new projects,
able to clear obstacles from your path.
An elephant represents strength, honor, stability, and patience,
and specifically the power of the feminine,
a guardian and protector.

Move with ease, with grace
and a thirst for knowledge, understanding.
Everything’s in reach.
Your garden, your earth, your heart, your deepest longing.
The art of loving, of living
lies in a fine mingling of letting go
and holding on.

Where the spirit leads the feet will follow.
Down distant paths for unmapped miles.
Transformation, as from a caterpillar to butterfly.
A mandala made of dreams and breath and dirt.
Heads forget but hearts remember.
The art of living, of loving knows no bounds.

Kaun Yin, the Bodhisattva of compassion.
She who hears the cries of the world.
She holds a lotus flower, the innate purity of Buddha nature.
She holds a sutra, the enlightened wisdom of the Dharma.
She holds a mala, the vow of the Bodhisattva to save all beings from suffering.
She holds me.

Whole life, whole health.
Community is our heritage–
being with ourselves,
practicing with friends.
Noticing the quintessential nature of things, their origins,
in memory, meditation, emotion, and pure delight.

Sanctuary in practice and place,
space for rest and calm, refuge.
Stay, relax, let go, surrender.
I make a vow, a commitment to dedicate my life
to keeping my heart and mind open,
and to nurturing my compassion
with the longing to ease the suffering of the world.


This video is Deva Premal chanting the Ganesha mantra, intended to remove obstacles. May it make way for a new beginning for all of us, a fresh start in which suffering is eased and love grows in its place.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: Being highly sensitive is both a blessing and a curse. I was born completely porous, raw and naked and open wide. I had no defense, no barrier between myself and the world, myself and others. What you felt, I felt, and I felt it deeply. For years, I wore heavy armor (invisible yes, but heavy and hard nonetheless) and masks, cocooned myself, padded my body with extra weight, distracted with smoke and mirrors, hid myself away, anything I could to do to protect myself.

What I didn’t understand yet is that this sensitivity, this keen emotion, acute intuition, deep knowing, this tenderness was something that others spent their lives trying to achieve, that there were many ancient practices to teach one to be so openhearted, so present, spacious and awake. I had what others wanted, what they worked so hard to experience. I have slowly allowed my gentle self to peek out, have been working with being vulnerable and brave, keeping my heart open, but it’s so hard sometimes–the beauty and the brutality, the tenderness and the terror can be so overwhelming.

2. Truth: “You should put on your own oxygen mask before attempting to help someone else with theirs.” I was chanting this silently last night as I tried to fall asleep. My worrying about Dexter wasn’t letting me rest, mind or body, and I was exhausted. That phrase was the thing that kept coming back to me, the only thing that was helping. No “he’s fine” or “everything’s going to be okay” or general allowing or accepting of reality or releasing of attachment would work, but the awareness that I needed to take care of myself or I wouldn’t be of any help to him did.

3. Truth: I can’t control everything, and perfection is impossible. I know this, deep down know it, and yet I keep acting as if it’s not true. I keep Dexter home from hiking, thinking I can keep him safe, and he hurts himself chasing after a squirrel in our backyard. I feed my dogs the best possible food, provide the best health care, give them tons of exercise and affection, take better care of them sometimes than I do myself, and still two of them have been diagnosed with fatal cancers. I obsess about Dexter’s physical therapy and medications and various appointments, thinking I can fix him, keep him safe, when no matter what I do, he will eventually die, as all mortal things do. I try to be so careful and prepared and diligent and alert, but bad things still happen. Things break, feelings get hurt, mistakes are made. I am not always responsible, and even when I am, I am forgivable, still loveable. I am trying to do as Karen Salmansoh suggests and, “Let go of what you can’t control. Channel all that energy into living fully in the now.”

One Wish: That we can approach our experience, our struggle and suffering, with great gentleness and a loving presence. That when we despair, are afraid and sad, we can experience some ease, remember our innate strength, have confidence and find comfort in our fundamental wisdom and compassion. And as Hafiz says, “I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in the darkness, the astonishing light of your own being.”

#Reverb12: Day 6

reverb12

Change

The full prompt: If you could change one thing that happened this year, what would it be? Why? (Author: Linar Studio)

I am a person who typically doesn’t have regrets. I understand the value of my experiences, good and bad. I don’t spend a lot of time wishing that things were different. I’d rather spend my energy accepting and working with what is. I am usually able to forgive myself for my missteps, be gentle, laugh about it even–eventually.

But, if I really had the power to change one thing, my Dexter wouldn’t have cancer, wouldn’t be dying. And If I couldn’t change that, I’d make sure he at least hadn’t suffered because of it, so no bloody scare, no weeks of belly issues while we adjusted the one medication we could give him, the one thing that might help him feel a little better. And if I couldn’t change that, I’d change the fact that he had to reverse sneeze so much at the beginning, because he’s the sort of dog that runs out of the room when anyone sneezes, gets worried when someone chokes or coughs or gags, and he hated being the one doing it, not being able to stop.

healthydexter.jpg

Intention

The full prompt: What were some of your mantras from 2012 and how did you come by them? Will they remain the same for next year – if not, what new ones will you set?

dreamwithfeathers My message from the Universe, by way of Andrea Scher, the idea that all I needed to do was clear some space and watch the magic unfold.

Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha, a sanskrit mantra which invokes Ganesh, the remover of obstacles. I heard someone say that sometimes the obstacle needing removed is yourself, and ever since, it stuck with me. I find myself chanting it silently, spontaneously, trying to get out of my own way.

This from Susan Piver, “Confidence is the willingness to be as ridiculous, luminous, intelligent, and kind as you really are, without embarrassment.”

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow’.” ~Mary Anne Radmacher.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.
~Rumi

lyricslidefinal

~me

“Don’t move the way fear makes you move. Move the way love makes you move. Move the way joy makes you move.” ~Osho

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ~Howard Thurman

“We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips that we lay on ourselves—the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds—never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake.” ~Pema Chödrön

mypurpose

All these mantas, prayers, truths will go with me into the new year. There are so many more, collected and contemplated, written on my bones, but these are the main ones.

The one that I will be leaving behind is: “I’m so tired. I’m so tired. I’m so tired. I’m so tired.” ~Me

Favorite Gift

The full prompt: What was your favourite gift given and/or received in 2012? Who was the recipient, who was the giver? What was it for (an event, holiday or just because)? Was the gift tangible or something else (i.e. support in a hard situation or laughter when it was most needed)?

My favorite gift I received was a marble from my friend. We were attending a weekend long workshop with Brene’ Brown, and Brene’ told the story of the marble jar. Her daughter’s teacher had a jar in her classroom where she’d put a marble every time the kids did a good thing, and that once the jar was full they got to have a class party. Brene’ had used the example to explain true friendship to her daughter. “Marble jar friends are the kind that keep putting marbles of trust and encouragement, reciprocity and boundaries, and all those good friend type things, into your metaphorical friendship jar,” (description from The Scent of Water: Marble Jar Friends). The next morning, when I went to pick up my friend, she gave me a marble.

My favorite gift I fave was a journal for that same marble jar friend for her birthday. I filled it with pictures, inspiring quotes, and writing prompts. I loved making it, and it made me so happy to see how much she liked it, that she understood it was a gift that was intended to communicate how special and precious she is.

bookwritingsaturday

the journal is the one with the blue cover, with the jar full of white flowers on the front

Ease

The full prompt: What can you do to add ease to 2012?

  • Meditate regularly
  • Get enough rest, sleep and relaxation
  • Eat good food
  • Move more
  • Be less busy, less speedy
  • Spend lots of time in nature, in quiet, in stillness
  • Pay close attention, be mindful
  • Be kind and gentle, to myself and others
  • Let go of judgement and criticism
  • Stop smashing myself to bits
  • Stop struggling, resisting, running away
  • Relax, breathe, let go, surrender
  • Let love and joy in
  • Keep my heart open

Learning, Discovery

The full prompt: Compare the “you” from the beginning of 2012 to the “you” that you are now. What new skills or talents have you learned or discovered this year?

I am braver, am actively practicing and cultivating courage. I ask for help. I make contact, speak up instead of being frozen by my fear or sense of unworthiness. I offer my help. I say what I think, what I feel, what is true. I have a voice, I let it be heard. I love even though I know I will be hurt, I keep my heart open even when it’s hard. I stay with what’s happening instead of numbing out, resisting, or running away.

I reach out and connect with total strangers. I haven’t lost my mind, I don’t leave my front door wide open or anything like that, but I’m not as timid as I used to be. Today when I was walking across campus, I saw a women wearing boots, and carrying a basket with yet another pair of boots. I asked her, “I really have to know: why the extra pair of boots?” That might not seem like a big deal to some people, but it was huge for me. I send emails, make comments, invite interaction, go to a conference with 1000 attendees by myself–where a year ago I would have remained silent, hidden.

I am beginning to honor my own worth, to know that I have value, that I am enough as I am. I don’t have to earn love, I don’t have to change how I am. Who I am is my power: my genuine nature, my gentleness, my generosity, my goofiness. I am weird, but that is exactly what is so awesome about me. I am a beautiful, brilliant mess.

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