with each breath I’ll meet you there

There was a beautiful forest close…a place I would go to periodically for a hike. I tended to go there when it felt like the world was crashing down around me, when I felt overwhelmed. The woods were my escape, my get-away place of sanity. Walking under the shade of tall trees and listening to the sound of running water from rivers and waterfalls, I always had the same thought: I feel so whole when I am here. Why don’t I do this more often?

I know what makes me feel more. Why isn’t this an everyday practice for me?

In these days, it seems like we are living on the brink. Pomp and bluster seem to rule the day. There is conflict here, at home and around the world. Our very home, this tiny third rock from the sun, is in real danger.

One of the truths we know is that we live in an enchanted universe. The up-there and down-here mingle, the earthly and the heavenly mirror each other. We have no choice but to continue to redeem the world, to save the world from our own selves. We are, ironically, the cause of the breaking and just might be the channel of healing. To make the world whole, we ourselves have to become healed, become whole. Our well-being and the world being well are linked together.

To tend to our own inner lives is not selfishness; it is wisdom, it is essential, and it is unavoidable. […]

We are so attentive to our devices, making sure they are charged. Do we show the same care and concern for our hearts? Do we wait until we are running on fumes? How lovely and wise to make sure that the recharging is not through being a “weekend warrior” or even once-every-few-years vacations (both are lovely), but rather a matter of daily practice. […]

Let us, you and I, friends, find what sustains our soul. Let us find what nurtures our heart, who nurtures our heart, where our heart is nurtured.

Let us go there
daily
And make a habit of it.

If we may paraphrase the great Rumi:

Out beyond the realms of this faith
and that faith

     of no-faith
There is a field of goodness and beauty

where hearts our nourished

     With each breath
I’ll meet you there

~ Omid Safi, excerpts from Tending Our Inner Life to Make the World Whole (onbeing.org, May 18, 2017)


Notes:

  • Inspired by: “The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude.” — Aldous Huxley, Proper Studies. (1927)
  • Photo: Newthom

Grand Central Terminal. You choose: 1954 or Today?

Sunlight streams through the windows in the concourse at Grand Central Terminal in New York City in 1954. [Read more…]

I’m pretty sure that this was going to be up there with one of the best nights of my life

Harry Styles likes to bring out surprise guests during his shows—and when he performed a secret show at Los Angeles’ Troubadour on Friday night (May 19, 2017), concert attendees were especially starstruck when he brought out none other than Fleetwood Mac singer and good witch Stevie Nicks. The two performed duets on both Styles’s single “Two Ghosts” and Fleetwood Mac’s ballad “Landslide.” Styles began by playing a few songs from his new album at the event before introducing his special guest. “I’m pretty sure that this was going to be up there with one of the best nights of my life,” he said, according to Billboard. “If there was any doubt, I’m pretty sure I’d like to confirm, in my entire life, I never thought I’d be able to say this. Please welcome to the stage, Stevie Nicks.” The two sang one more song together—Nicks and Don Henley’s “Leather and Lace”—before Nicks left the stage.


Source: Vanity Fair

He looked down, she just gave him a little lick, and suddenly I couldn’t stop him from crying

Zereeseis Player, age 12: “They taught me how to be respectful, they taught me how to listen, they’ve taught me not to be disobedient to others, and treat people like they want to be treated.”
Farrah Akbar, age 8:  “I would say, if you’ve never seen a horse or touched a horse, just touch it. Because if you touch it, then you’ll feel the soul.”

At equine-therapy programs like Compton Jr. Posse in Los Angeles, inner-city adolescents find a refuge from drugs and street-gang culture by developing equestrian skills and learning to regard the knowing gazes of 1,000-plus-pound horses and guide their beguiling power. In return for striving in school, the program’s participants, ranging in age from 8 to 18, are taught to ride horses, groom them and clean their stables. These experiences keep them within the horse’s “personal circle.” Horses have a profound effect on humans. “Whether they have a physical handicap or an emotional handicap or a mental handicap, when you’re around a horse,” Akbar says, “the energy is so powerful that it tunes the body up…

Something extraordinary occurs when we’re in the presence of a fellow sentient being. When we let go of language’s tacit conceptual constraints and judgments, we allow ourselves a kind of time travel toward our own inner animal. Science is revealing the ways that the physiology of our psychology can be found across species: the common neuronal structures and attendant nerve wirings that we share in varying measures with a startling array of both vertebrates and invertebrates, including fellow primates, elephants, whales, parrots, bees and fruit flies. Animal therapy makes us aware of this cross-species interconnectivity on the purest, subconscious level…It has been established that the tactile element alone in animal therapy releases endorphins, so called feel-good hormones that counteract the trauma hormones of adrenaline and cortisol.

…therapists involved in such programs speculate that their benefits actually derive from shutting down for a time some of our brain’s higher and sometimes cacophonous cognitive functions…Rather than augmenting higher-level consciousness, a substance like psilocybin actually shuts down our brain’s ego center, which, under duress, can confer crippling fear, guilt and insecurity, and instead allows people access to their unfettered emotions and sense of childlike wonder. Allows them, in other words, a mind-altering walk in the wood with no names…

“He looked down,” Martin recalls, “and she just gave him a little lick, and suddenly I couldn’t stop him from crying. Just that connection set free all of this stuff inside of him. She was the catalyst. There’s that ‘Some Enchanted Evening’ thing that happens. That’s real.”

~ Charles Siebert, excerpts from Why Close Encounters With Animals Soothe Us (NY Times, May 18, 2017)

 

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Do you have a personal mantra?

You should.

Research shows that thinking of a word or phrase that affirms our values—and repeating it over and over—produces powerful physiological changes. It can lower our cortisol levels, enhance endurance and reduce perception of effort during physical exertion. Perhaps even more compelling, a mantra can quiet the mind…This isn’t a bad thing—as long as we’re thinking thoughts that are beneficial. But too many of us beat ourselves up, ruminating on the same negative beliefs.  Mantras can create and strengthen new neural pathways that are positive and not toxic. And that can make our brain much calmer and happier…

The earliest mantras appeared 3,500 years ago and were repetitive prayers or hymns. By the time meditative yoga developed, in the last few centuries B.C.E., mantras were being used to calm and control the mind. Modern mantras are still a sort of a prayer—for what we wish to be. They’re effective because they’re repetitive and simple, making them easy to turn into a habit. We don’t have to search for the positive thought to call up; we already have it.

People invoke mantras during times of stress…Some are just one word: “Breathe.” “Shine.” “Love.” Others are phrases: “This will pass.” “You’ve come this far, now push to go further.” How can you choose the best mantra for you? Not just any clichéd motto—“Just do it!”—will do. [Read more…]

She suggests a minimum of one hour of sustained gaze (Right! Errata, 1 min?)

“Try not to blink,” says the performance artist Marina Abramovic. “The more you blink, the more you think.” In the spring of 2010, Abramovic spent over 700 hours looking into the eyes of more than 1,500 visitors to the Museum of Modern Art. Many wept openly. Sometimes Abramovic cried, too. To really experience the power of eye contact, she suggests a minimum of one hour of sustained gaze.

Place two chairs three and a half feet apart, and sit facing someone. Do not talk or touch. Focus your eyes between that person’s brows, so that you can see both pupils simultaneously. Don’t look away. Eye contact elicits avoidance behavior in many species, but humans are exquisitely attuned to it. Even newborns will look longer at people staring straight at them than they will at those with averted eyes…

To really see — and feel connected to — someone, you need to be still in mind and body. Start by slowing your breath until it is “almost unnoticeable,” Abramovic says. You’ll undergo all manner of discomfort during your encounter, including sore muscles, dry eyes and niggling thoughts. Don’t dwell on them.

Abramovic thinks a scarcity of eye contact is crippling modern culture. While we need to look at our loved ones more, she says that gazing into the eyes of strangers is potentially more transformative, what she calls “one of the most powerful experiences you can have.”…

Prepare for a rush of emotion. Abramovic felt surges of profound tenderness during the months she spent locking eyes with anyone who wanted to sit across from her. “I felt their loneliness and pain,” she says. “My heart was bursting.”

~ Malia Wollan, from How to Make Soulful Eye Contact (NY Times, April 28, 2017)


Notes:

It’s a Hard Time to Be Human

Parker J. Palmer, from It’s a Hard Time to Be Human: When I ran across this Ellen Bass poem recently, I was immediately drawn to the line, “It’s a hard time to be human.” I’m sure there’s never been a time when it wasn’t hard to be human. But this is our time, and our world seems to be spinning off course. And yet, as the poem’s title says, “The World Has Need of You.” It’s hard to credit that our little lives, words, and actions can make a difference, but they do. The “proof” is in the last three lines of this poem, which I’ll let you read for yourself…
[Read more…]

Saturday Morning


it is…quiet…morning
warm sunlight and cool,
crisp air streams through my open window.
my room is heavy with the smell
of flowers, vines, grass, and growth.
the only sounds are of…
a gentle wind chime,
and my own steady, deep breathing.

~ L. J. Buchanan, from Conceptual solitude


Photo: Heinz-Dieter with morning breeze

Guess.What.Day.It.Is?


Source: awitchesbrew

in a language no school has taught you

You heard—the song the moth sings, the babble
Of falling snowflakes (in a language
No school has taught you), the scream
Of the reddening bud of the oak tree

As the bud burst into the world’s brightness.

~ Robert Penn Warren, from “Muted Music,” The Collected Poems of Robert Penn Warren


Notes:

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