It’s been a long day (from ~ A.D. 409)

Bryan-jones

I live in town without all that racket
horses and carts stir up, and you wonder

How that could be. Wherever the mind
dwells apart is itself a distant place.

Picking chrysanthemums at my east fence,
far off, I see South Mountain: mountain

air lovely at dusk, birds in flight
returning home. All this means something

something absolute. Whenever I start
explaining it, I’ve forgotten the words.

Colors infusing autumn chrysanthemums
exquisite, I pick dew-bathed petals,

float them on that forget-your-cares
stuff. Even my passion for living apart

Soon grows distant. I’m alone, but after
that first cup, the wine jar pours itself.

Everything at rest, dusk: a bird calls,
returning to its forest home. Chanting,

I settle into my breath. Somehow, on this
east veranda, I’ve found my life again.

~T’ao Ch’ien, No. #3 and #4 from Drinking Wine in The Selected Poems of T’ao Ch’ien


Notes:

Lightly child, lightly.

When we examine our thought stream with mindfulness, we encounter the inner sound track. As it plays, we can become the hero, the victim, the princess, or the leper. There is a whole drama department in our head, and the casting director indiscriminately handing out the roles of inner dictators and judges, adventurers and prodigal sons, inner entitlement and inner impoverishment. Sitting in a meditation class, we are forced to acknowledge them all. As Anne Lamott writes, “My mind is like a bad neighborhood. I try not to go there alone.”

When we see how compulsively these thoughts repeat themselves, we being to understand the psychological truth of samsara, the Sanskrit word for circular, repetitive existence. In Buddhist teaching, samsara most commonly refers to the wheel of life. On this wheel, beings are reborn and subject to suffering until they develop understanding and find liberation. Samsara also describes the unhealthy repetitions in our daily life. On a moment-to-moment level, we can see our samsaric thought patters re-arise, in unconscious and limited ways. For example, we see how frequently our thoughts include fear, judgment, or grasping. Our thoughts try to justify our point of view. As an Indian saying points out: “He who cannot dance claims the floor is uneven.”

~Jack Kornfield, The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology


Notes:

  • Quote: Make Believe Boutique. Photo: Patty Maher with She danced among the trees
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Riding Metro North. And Brooding.

6:16 am train to Grand Central. No seats, need to stand. I wait until the first stop at Stamford and then shoe horn myself across from a lady in a bright, pumpkin colored dress.  In order to fit, I need to sit on a diagonal with my knees in the aisle. Pumpkin shifts her knees to the right to avoid contact. The top of her left knee has a deep burn mark, her right knee is clean. Listen, in these close quarters, it’s impossible not to notice. I shift uncomfortably. Personal space inadequate, we’re bordering on claustrophobia here. It’s the trade you made friend, stand for an hour or this…so this is it.

The Suit to my left is asleep. Meaning, like dead to the world. Rip’s hands hug a hard cover book against his chest; a monogrammed cover, title unknown.

I turn to my morning reading. A blog post by Beth @ Alive on All Channels: “These People Are Not Drowning Today.” Pacino in Taxi Driver pops to mind: You talkin’ to me?She’s certainly is not talkin’ to me. My eyes flick down the page and catch a passage from Zen teacher Barry Magid: “Leave Yourself Alone“:

The paradox…is that the most effective way of transformation is to leave ourselves alone. The more we let everything be just what it is, the more we relax into an open, attentive awareness of one moment after another. Just sitting leaves everything just as it is.[Read more…]

It’s been a long day

Rich: I want to talk about this idea that is super important, the stories that we tell ourselves, about ourselves, and how we get caught up in these narratives that don’t serve you. Where do these stories come from and how we can decouple that narrative and begin the process of telling ourselves a new story.

Sharon: If you have a prevalent, frequent critical voice, your inner critic, sometimes what’s good is giving it a persona, give it a name. Give it a wardrobe. I have named my inner critic Lucy after the character in the Peanuts comic strip…I see this cartoon where Lucy is in the first frame talking to Charlie Brown and she says: “You know Charlie Brown, the problem with you is that you are you.” And then in the second frame poor Charlie Brown says: “Well, what in the world  can I do about that?”  Then in the third and final frame Lucy says: “I don’t pretend to give advice, I merely point out the problem.”

And I would keep coming back to the line: “The problem with you is that you are you.” Because that Lucy voice had been so dominant in my early life, I really credit my meditation training for basically having a different relationship to Lucy. Instead of on the one hand believing her completely, you are right Lucy, you are always right. Where on the other hand hating her, and fearing her and being shamed and all that.  I realized that I had two ways of approaching her. One was, Hi Lucy, I see you and the other was to Chill out Lucy.

Rich: Packed into that is the idea of becoming the Observer as opposed to identifying with that voice as being part and parcel of who you are, like wrapping it up in your identity.

Sharon: Very soon after I saw the cartoon, something great happened for me and my first thought was: “This is never going to happen again.”

Rich: It’s the negative bias. We’re hard wired, we’re predisposed to identify these negative things that occur to us and then choose to string these together and create this story of who we are, how we got here and what’s going to happen to us in the future.

Sharon: …we are conditioned usually towards negativity – – – you are thinking about your day, evaluating yourself on how well did I do today.  It’s not uncommon to only think about the mistakes and what you didn’t do that well, and where you didn’t show up that well, and it takes intentionality to say anything else happened today. It’s not hypocrisy. It’s not denying that there were issues. But it’s not all that happened.   To get to a truer, bigger picture, we have to actually move our attention consciously towards the good. Anything good happened today? Anything good within me? And that kind of elasticity reflects the ability of attention and part of the meditative process. But it begins with seeing the story…

Rich: I think about the story I tell myself, about myself. But also the story I tell about the other people that I encounter throughout my day, and that story is generally reflective of my own state of mind and how I feel about myself. If I feel good about myself, I’m probably going to tell a more flattering version…But when you really analyze it, you realize over the course of your life, billions of things have happened to you. Billions! And we extract out these 10 things that happen over the course of our life and we identify with them so deeply, so thoroughly that they infect and invade how we see ourselves and every decision we make. How we interact with other people. What words that come out of our mouth…Its amazing how pervasive it is. Its so cemented that the idea of even looking at that or being critical of the veracity of that, let alone reframing it, is something that I think that most people don’t even begin to engage in.

Sharon: That’s true. Absolutely true.  Which is why I think seeing the story is the first and most critical step because a lot of people don’t even believe that…we don’t realize how impacted we are by all those views, our Lucy coming at us…

~ Rich Roll, Interview with Meditation Master Sharon Salzberg on Real Love & The Art of Mindful Connection (Podcast, June 25, 2017)

 


Related Posts: It’s been a long day

 

Saturday afternoon drive: Then the car becomes a meditation chamber

The basic instructions for beginning meditation are to sit quietly and concentrate on nothing but your breathing for five minutes. Simple enough, right? I can’t do it for ten seconds. I can turn down the lights, burn all the incense and play all the soothing music I want but, after the briefest pause, my brain will recommence to whirr, instantly, uncontrollably.

Until I get on that blissfully empty stretch of open road, that is. Then the car becomes a meditation chamber. It all happens by itself. Breathing slows, the benevolent sky swells out, almost always a blue so pure, clean and enamelled that even worries of climatic catastrophe recede for a moment. Maybe there are some clouds, artfully arranged. Choose your moment to leave town — I like to leave at around 5am, just before rush hour — and there won’t even be any traffic to speak of. Just the white noise of the purring engine to amplify the calm, blissful silence, which will at last find its way into even the most stubbornly busy mind.

Dropping into the Central Valley from the mountains surrounding the Tejon Pass is like breaking open a petit four, getting past the glossy, pretty exterior: inside is the cake. The urban surfaces of California are what we see in movies and on TV: slick, manufactured, shouting, cajoling, bamboozling, seducing, ready to sell you something. And then the confected beauty of the city gives way; now the land reaches far out to the sky. Your ears pop from the pressure change, and a sign advises you that the next gas station is 19 miles off.

~ Maria Bustillos, from “On the Road” (Aeon, May 2, 2013)


Sources: Quote – Andrew Sullivan, Ode to Highway. Photo: Guy Le Querrec (via newthom)

Running. With This.

sky-blue-birds

What cycles up When on the random shuffle on a 7,231 song playlist and Why?

Is it so random?

The ears tune into her lyrics, Joan Armatrading’s “Heaven“:

“Am I in Heaven? Am I in Heaven? Am I in Heaven? Have I gone up. Have I gone up. To the big cloud.”

This asphalt. This footfall. This foam cushioning my footfall. This swoosh of a flock overhead. This red breasted robin foraging on the damp grass. This gentle morning breeze cooling. This bead of sweat that’s made its way from forehead to cheek to lips, this salt lick.  This sky stretching to the heavens, down to earth, to this ground, to this hip, this thigh, this leg, this calf, these feet – all propelling this body forward.

This, not the Rue de l’Abreuvoir in Paris. Not the Ramblas in Barcelona. Or the gardens of Łazienki Królewskie in Warsaw. This patch of ground here. Here. Now. [Read more…]

It may take God

Alejandro García Restrepo

Today, God, help me focus on a peaceful pace rather than a harried one.

I will keep moving forward gently, not frantically.

Help me let go of my need to be anxious, upset, and harried.

Help me replace it with a need to be at peace and in harmony.

~ Melody Beattie, from “Going Easy” in The Language of Letting Go


Photo: Alejandro García Restrepo via I Hear It in the Deep Heart’s Core

Saturday Morning

nest-sleep-silence

Silence
will carry your voice
like the nest that holds the sleeping birds.

~Rabindranath Tagore, from Stray Birds


Notes:

Quotes: Your Eyes Blaze Out. Photo: Sarah Treanor with “still life” (via Your Eyes Blaze Out).  Find all of Stray Birds @ eldrichpress.org.

Walking. Walking it down the cheek.

tear-cheek

1:32 am.

Halldór’s nightlessness and insomnia in all directions.

A new routine, and I’ve grooved it. To bed early, wake early, read to exhaustion, and back to sleep until sunrise.

I flick on the iPad, illuminating the dark. I get after it. The Journal. The Times. Apple News. Blog posts. RSS feeds in Feedly. A few late night incoming emails. And then to dessert, a chapter or two on Kindle, half-way through Lebedev’s Oblivion.  It’s 3:15 am, I’m turning pages on a title called Oblivion, now that’s something. You must sleep, or you will pay dearly.

I set the e-gear down, turn on the left side, and pull up the covers. Fragments of news, pages, posts, emails and today’s full day calendar are flitting by, churning, the mind workin’, workin’. Anxiety…A piece rises to the top. Begley: “A compulsion is at once psychological balm and curse, surface madness and profound relief…The ability of compulsive behaviors to quiet anxieties great and small is one of the greatest gifts our brains can give us.”

I pause, close my eyes, and marinate in this…if this is the greatest gift our brains can give us, I am fully gifted, fully loaded. FULL UP.

And, then, it stopped. The churning stopped. [Read more…]

It’s been a long day

breathe-gratitude-long-day


Notes:

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