Thursday, February 28, 2008

And These Moments Are Too Few

I watched as my Husband taught my children how to get the honey from a Honeysuckle flower.
He was passing on one of the badges of childhood--
One a scoutmaster simply could not provide.

And these moments are too few.

We all played tag and laughed.

And I remembered what joy
a simple game of tag can be.

The exhilaration of being so very close to base,
and the thrill of tagging someone
and running off to base yourself.

Our kids were so thrilled to have us there
enjoying part of their world.
More thrilled than getting to see the latest movie,
or the prospect of playing the latest video game.

And these moments are too few.


Why do we ever stop playing tag?
Going down the pool slide?
Playing games in the pool?
Having Fun?

Looking out my bedroom window,
watching the neighborhood fox pouncing at apparently nothing,
and then knowingly,
striding away.
He knows that the vole in the snow-surrounded footprint
thinks he has lost interest,
and as it hops towards the brush
in one swift swoop,
the brush-tailed red fox projects himself
and gently takes the vole in his mouth.
Walking slowly now,
through the snow,
his lean lines gracefully moving forward.
And in slow motion
appearing from the right,
a smaller, faster, thinner-tailed fox emerges,
unseen by the first.

They roll, and call an cry;
smaller one victorious,
the other retreating.

All the while a doe,
in the backdrop, limping
toward her eventual resting place,
and circles,
and unable to keep her eyes open any longer,
she rests.

Why do we stop noticing the life that's happening all around us?

I think we stop, because Life happens.
Because, It's time to grow up.
It's time to do your homework.
It's time to choose a college.
Because it's time to get a degree,
because it's time to find a job,
and time to choose a health plan.

We stop because, it's time to do the laundry,
and time to choose a pediatrician,
and time to replace the carpet.

Before you know it, It's time for retirement communities,
and retirement funds.

But there are moments.

Moments in between.
There are moments
in between the bill paying
and the grocery shopping
Moments in between the car waxing
and the tooth brushing.

But we rarely make appointments with ourselves.
The selves that yearn for fun.
The selves that yearn for tomfoolery,
and observation.

The selves that yearn for being.

But pencil it in if you must,
because moments are the stuff of life

Moments that take us by surprise.
Like when we look out the window
to find it's snowing.
Only the snow isn't falling in the usual way.
There is something different,
you notice.
It seems to be suspended,
floating down
and the flakes are larger and lighter,
than your usual flakes.

And these Moments are too few.

But we have lots and lots of moments.
And we don't have to stop playing,
and sliding,
and playing tag,
and noticing the world around us

But we do have to stop.

So that the moments don't pass us by.
To drink the moments in.
And Smell the moments.

Because These Moments are Too Few.

"We don't stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing."
-C. Wyatt Runyan

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Human Race: No Membership Fee.

You can really count on PBS to produce a straight forward documentary. People Like Us, Social Class in America is a really good example. It looks at how we Americans define"social class." Every perspective is represented, and as you can imagine, our perspectives are as diverse as we are, here in the melting pot of all melting pots. It takes a good hard look at how we see ourselves and others: based on income bracket, education, race, and breeding. It looks at Old money, and New money,and minimum wage existence. It looks at suburbia and farm living, and urban life. It looks at the "right" colleges, and Country Clubs, and how changing social class effects how you see yourself, and how you are seen by others. It looks at fitting in and not fitting in, and how we define and judge each other and ourselves, based on these parameters.

Ironically, we define ourselves in relation to others, when our greatest gift is our individuality: what makes each one of us an entity to which there is no comparison. Whether we come from Appalachia, or the Midwest; spend our summers in "The Hamptons" or Nantucket, or in a cardboard box in an alley, the truth is, we all belong to one club of magnificent individuals: The Human Race. And there is no membership fee. Membership is afforded by legacy only. Legacy of birth. Our membership never expires, and affords many benefits to those of OUR kind. Human Kind. Benefits include, but are not limited to: connection, diversity and unlimited potential for compassion, kindness and love. Since all members come from the same "stock", all are siblings and considered Family. As such, we share with one another--our strengths and our weaknesses, our suffering and our triumphs, our wisdom and our longing. And we only have one real rule. The Golden Rule. One size Fits All.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Everyone and Everything in their Best Light

Have you ever picked up a pair of sunglasses, and instinctively clean them, before you even put them on? You know that the lenses are delicate, and that any mishandling can cause oily smudges.The same is true of our inner lens. The lens through which we see the world. It is our world view; our perspective, and we need to take a close look at our inner lens to see if it is smudged by negativity and pessimism or crystal clear with positivity and optimism.What I have realized is that you must choose to view everyone and every circumstance it their best light. A light has finally gone off in me. And it was following a great darkness. It is like someone else picking up your sunglasses and saying "How can you see through these? That would drive me crazy!" You were wearing them so long that the view became familiar. You actually thought that was the way the world really looked. Such is the difference between individuals who choose to see the world in different ways. It is a choice. It is all a matter of what we focus on. The faults? or the Strengths? What will we choose to illuminate, to ourselves and to others?
"Once in a while it really hits people that they don't have to experience the world in the way they have been told to."
- Alan Keightley
There are many degrees of pain, But, there are MANY MANY more degrees of Joy. And Joy can only be found when we look for it. When we intend to see it..It is The light that exists in us all, and in every circumstance that is sent into our experience.
"... It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness..."
The veil of negativity and pessimism colors your interactions with everyone, and when we look through that tainted lens, not only is everything we see also tainted, and the individuals we interact with imposters, but also the way We are viewed by others is afforded that same light. When we don't see others in their best light, we in turn, are robbed of the battery that powers our own light. We then have to take responsibility for what we bring into our own worlds, good or bad. Let us then, intend now, that all other veils be lifted, so that our view is crystal clear. This will involve surrender, and knowing this, we can move within the moment and forward into future moments--knowing, that we will be shown, because we will be looking.
Negativity weighs so much more than positivity. In fact, positivity is positively weightless. Seeing God's presence all around us affords a beautiful view and it allows us to travel light. Negativity is unnecessary baggage. It is extra shoes, and extra coats and extra hats, when in order to walk along the beach of our potential life, all we need is the bare feet we were born with.

"For what a man thinks, that he becomes".
- Emerson

Monday, February 11, 2008

Release, and Allow: The Nourishing Power of the Breath

"Our most basic,common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal."

In Yoga and meditation practices, the breath is integral. In Yoga, we coordinate the breath with the bodily postures, and movement between postures to unite the body with the mind. With practice, we learn to notice our bodies as they exist in space. In meditation practices, as we intend to let go of discursive thoughts, we focus our mind instead on the breath. In basic terms if we are observing our breath, we can't be focusing on anything else at the same time.

 Organically, we know that the breath nourishes our lungs, filling them with all of the nutrients that the air provides. It not only nourishes our lungs but indeed every organ, every cell of the body.We know how important regularly filling our lungs is to our cardiovascular health. We can also recognize the ability we have, metaphorically, to use the breath, as we walk or as we meditate or as we practice yoga or fold clothes for that matter, to inhale all that is beneficial to us, and to exhale, or let go of all that no longer serves us. 

There are many different Breathing exercises in the Yogic traditions. When practicing the exercise called alternate nostril breathing,or Nadi Sodhana, one nostril is closed off and we breathe in through the other to a count of four. Then we hold for a count of four, and when exhaling, we switch nostrils and exhale to a count of 8. So when breathing in, we consciously align ourselves with all that we can take in from the world around us which is positive, uplifting, and beneficial to our functioning. With this nourishing breath, We are incorporating, then, 4 elements of good into our being, but when exhaling, we exhale,or release, twice as much of what doesn't serve our wellness; 8 elements of what doesn't serve to allow our ease. In so doing, our net, so to speak is our personal profit: which is 4 above breaking even. 

The more we let go of, the more we allow the GOOD to peak through--that "glass-half-fullness", the more we can focus, on what DOES serve us. Organically this practice is calming to the mind. It also involves both sides of the brain, aiming towards balance. 
And balance, is the key to wellness. 
When the mind and body are one, there is ease.

"Every thought we think changes our biochemistry. Your hormones are all affected by your thoughts. Pay attention to things that bring you joy. When I read the newspaper, I look for the good news."
— Dr. Christiane Northrop

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Strength of a Tree Lies in Its Ability to Bend

The roots of a tree may run very deep into the earth, or they may be shallow but far reaching. In either case, the root system is what keeps the tree standing when the conditions surrounding it are contradictory to it's integrity. When gusts come upon it the tree may sway. The gusts may be so strong that they challenge the tree to resist, but the tree knows. If the tree but surrenders, for a moment, allowing the weight and force of the wind to flow through it, it bends. It goes with the flow. When rain falls from the sky and the temperature plummets, the rain may turn to ice, and freeze upon the branches. But the tree will remain. It may be weighed down, by the burden of the ice, but its root system will hold it firm. Indeed if the ice persists, and a branch is overburdened, it may need to shed that limb, to sacrifice it back to the earth, which will in turn recycle it, to enrich the roots once again. But the tree remains. In the spring, when the conditions are right, a new branch will emerge, possibly where the old one was, possibly somewhere new. But the tree will sprout once again, for it is in the tree's nature to grow. There will be times when the tree is dormant. When it awaits the warmth and gentle rains of spring. It must be patient during the cold winter months, and stand strong, for it is during these months that the new buds are forming, deep within the essence of the tree. The seeds if you will, the potential for growth. And its growth is inevitable, for it is in the nature of a tree to grow.

"Men are born soft and supple; dead, they are stiff and hard. Plants are born tender and pliant; dead, they are brittle and dry. Thus whoever is stiff and inflexible is a disciple of death. Whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life. The hard and stiff will be broken. The soft and supple will prevail."

Lao Tzu (c.604 - 531 B.C.)
Tao Te Ching