Sunday, March 30, 2008

Mutant Salamanders Unite!

"If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change."
Startling at first, the unexpected sight of a member of the animal kingdom who is not quite right, may leave us aghast, but animals embody the very blessed trait of not comparing themselves to anything else.This salamander with two extra appendages on one side is completely unaware of his "not-quite-rightness." He gets around just fine, and undoubtedly accepts himself as he is; a salamander who needs to protect himself, as any other salamander would, a salamander who looks for food, and a mate to procreate, and I believe, a salamander who is ever present. He is not wallowing in past inadequacies, for he knows not that concept. He just wakes up each day and continues to "Be" a salamander. To "Be" a collection of cells, alive and resonating with everything around him.

"For after all, the best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain."

We can learn a lot from the mutant salamanders of the world. The wonderful diversity of which we are all a part,mutant or not, is one of the most awe inspiring parts of being alive. Yet, we don't always see it that way. Often, the Eeyore in us all rears its head, alerting us to the pitfalls and woes--failing to acknowledge the wonder which exists all around us, and more often than not, recognizing only what makes us less equipped. But it's the Eeyores who fail to move forward, the Eeyores that remain stuck, with the little black rain cloud hovering above and behind and in front of -threatening to ruin the picnic. But then, there's the lowly salamander. The salamander with two extra arms. He gets around just fine, and he never gets wet--because the rain rolls right off him. He may have extra limbs, but he's also got a built in raincoat, and he's glad of it, because he'd be a cold and lonely, soaked to the bone lizard without it.

"Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them".
-Albert Einstein.

**This picture was found on**
Check out the other Interesting Content there!

More is More, But Enough is Enough

Contentment isn't the attainment of what you want.
Contentment lies in the realization of how much you already have.

Have you ever noticed, when grocery shopping, how many products have the word "more" on them? "Now with 20 % more!" More for your money! More per serving! More Nutritional value! More Omega 3's! More Fiber! More servings per box!

More, more, More!

What ever happened to the good old days, when Mikey chose Life Cereal just because He"liked" it? That's all. His mom bought it just because he liked it. (Hey, Mikey!) And Mikey, as we all know, didn't even know it was good for him. He just knew that those little oat -flavored woven squares tasted good.

But, what ever happened to enough? What ever happened to boxes sized to feed your family for a week? Boxes with just enough nutritional value to cover you for that meal alone. Boxes that assume you'll be eating other varied foods over the course of the day. Boxes which don't assume the responsibility of fulfilling all of your needs, just some. Just enough.

And Enough really is Enough.

Beyond enough only complicates things.

For no one thing , or series of things can ever fulfill you; can ever complete you; can ever sustain you. In order to be healthy,we need to be fed a steady diet, and there is, no one super food to keep all future ills at bay. But there are a series of individual, nutrient dense experiences. They are called trials. Each one comes, usually without warning, and not well labeled for the consumer, but each dose, each individual serving size, always supplies just enough tribulation for us to stop and take note. Just enough to alter our over-consumption. We'll have to incorporate a new diet, of sorts. The kind which enhances digestion of the next trial, which is an absolute certainty. We'll be a slender new version of ourselves, since we won't be carrying all of that "more" around.
And there will always be Enough.

Enough trials to ensure our continued growth.
Enough laughter to wash away the tears.
Enough tears to help us wipe the tears of others.
Enough comfort to allow us rest.
Enough rest to begin again.
Enough connection to remind us we are one.
Enough Oneness to infinitely connect in stillness
Enough stillness to allow insight,
Enough insight to keep us content with enough.

And Enough Really is Enough.

"Never go to excess, but let moderation be your guide."
Cicero (106 BC - 43 BC)

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Gonna Get It Wrong Before I Get it Right

Through working in harmony with life's circumstances, Taoist understanding changes what others may perceive as negative into something positive. Of course real progress involves growing and developing, which involves changing inside.
-Benjamin Hoff,
The Tao of Pooh

Just when you think you've got it right, just when you think you've overcome the last hurdle, up comes another one. You might think that you've been given ample opportunities to learn your lessons , but, well, you've got to learn your lessons well. And it may take multiple pop-quizzes, and planned tests before we finally learn the curriculum.

And the curriculum,unfortunately is ever expanding. There are no shortages of lessons to be learned, and no shortages of trials to overcome. They come in every shape and size, and One size doesn't fit all. In fact, all tests are tailor made, to our unique learning style. If we are visual learners, we are shown what we need to know, maybe again, and again and again, before we actually open our eyes and see it. If we are auditory learners, we may be given our lesson in song, or verse, or sermon, or lecture, or in the conversation of the passer-by. Maybe even the words of a child. And when our ears are clear of waxy build up, we'll hear our own unique message loud and clear. If we are kinesthetic learners we'll physically feel our lessons, With hands-on going through the motions actions--and there are as many ways to physically learn our lessons as there are books to read.

And if we are book learners-- learning our lessons through the countless barrage of words we are exposed to everyday-- from billboards to books to magazines, to love letters and letters of regret; letters of sympathy and letters of foreclosure--we'll be shown what we need to know, and when we finally see it, we will know.

-Thales (635 BC - 543 BC)

The master teacher works in mysterious ways, and he knows precisely how we're equipped to receive, so he instructs us each in our own unique ways, and he patiently waits, delivering pop-quiz upon pop-quiz, so that we'll be prepared for mid terms, and final exams. And there is never any need to fret, for we'll always be given lots of opportunities to bring up our grades;)

"Everyone has the obligation to ponder well his own specific traits of character. He must also regulate them adequately and not wonder whether someone else's traits might suit him better. The more definitely his own a man's character is, the better it fits him."
- Cicero (106 BC - 43BC)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What Matters Most is How You See Yourself

Our Cat loves the great outdoors. . And sometimes, to my dismay, he likes to go outside in the evening and spend the night outdoors. He has a big fluffy fur coat, so I don't worry that he'll get cold. But he also has a nemesis out there-- the neighborhood fox. I have seen him many times. He seems nervous. So before we turn in, we send our dog out for hopefully his last visit of the evening and snuggle in for a long winter's nap.

When what to our wondering ears should we hear?
But the cry of our neighborhood fox who is near.
He sounds like an infant, so you can't help but wake,
And wonder aloud " is our Cat's life at stake?"
So downstairs I rush, and open the door
And in saunters Tigger
His meow is his roar
He's no worse for wear
And I unearth a breath
They have an understanding:
And it's not a cat's nature to fret.

You see Tigger doesn't see himself as smaller than the fox, or less equipped. In his mind, It's his yard too. I've actually seen Tigger in the daylight chase the fox from the yard. He wanted to assert whose turn it was.This was very enlightening to me. I've always wondered in the back of my mind if they're really compatriots, but I've seen him hold his ground with our dog. He's a confident cat.

As animals are blessed with the gift of presence, Wherever they Go, there they are. They are not in the past, they are not in the future, They are just outdoors, open to what they'll experience next. They use no mirrors to determine if they measure up. They compare themselves to no one. That is why their presence is so healing. It's hard to be anywhere else when you're with your family pet. They're not thinking of anything else when they are receiving our love. They are just experiencing it while it lasts. And when they're confronted by predators, that's exactly where they are, crossing each bridge as they come to it, expecting that at the other side, there'll be catnip to share, with the other cats there.
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.”
-Anais Nin

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Love is Give and Take

"If the person you are talking to doesn't appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear."
-Winnie the Pooh
One of my favorite children's stories is The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein. In my mind, it has all of the elements of meaningful literature for the wee ones: quirky illustrations, heart warming theme, and a timeless underlying lesson for the adults who read them. It begins:

"There once was a tree.
And She loved a little boy.
And Every day the boy would come,
and make her leaves into crowns
and play king of the forest."

As time passes the boy comes to visit the tree, and looking for happiness, he takes her apples and sells them in the city. Before long the boy returns, now grown, thinking that Once he has a home, everything will fall into place. The tree offers up her branches so that he can build a home.The tree awaits his return and time passes , and the boy thinks If only I had a boat, all would be well. The tree generously offers up her trunk so that he can build a boat, sail off and be happy. The tree is now alone for a long long time, and one day the boy, now an old man returns, and the tree laments that she has nothing more to give to provide him with happiness. She offers her stump now to him, so that he may sit and rest and they are both happy.

So often it seems, we await that next acquisition or opportunity, certain that what we seek will be found there. Only to find that we are back where we started, and more often than not, what we are really seeking is right under our nose, Its crisp sweetness hanging on the branch under which we have been lying for years.

The Tree knows that apples and houses and boats will not bring the boy contentment, for she has felt his contentment as he climbed her trunk and swung from her branches and gathered her leaves. But she wants the boy to be happy, and so she gives up her "Tree-ness" for his temporary happiness. She knows that boys will be boys, and that boys must learn and grow. And although she no longer has branches, or apples or a trunk, the tree is still a tree. And even though the boy has acquired money and a house, and a boat, the boy is still a boy. Despite what they have lost or gained, they haven't really changed at all. The quality that remains is what they share As they both near the end of their usefulness. They share contentment, as the tree, with the only thing it it ever really had to offer, supplies a place for the boy, to
'sit and rest'
and in the end
"The Love we take is equal to the Love we make..."

“It is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the doing.
It is not how much we give,
but how much love we put in the giving."
Mother Teresa

Monday, March 10, 2008

This Too Shall Pass...

Have you ever sat down to watch a movie and realize pretty much right away, that the content is going to make you uncomfortable in some way? Often times, when faced with content that is particularly close to our own experience, or to experiences we avoid or fear because they are unpleasant in some way, we may feel an intense need to separate ourselves from the content, so as to avoid the anxiety that may result as we imagine ourselves in similar circumstances. It's that "What if" cloud that hovers menacingly above our heads as we hold our breath watching. Often, the best decision in circumstances like these is to decide in advance what we want to expose ourselves to. It is always in our best interest to avoid negativity, when it's possible, right? Sometimes It's unavoidable, though. Sometimes we have to sacrifice our potential anxiety for what might be enjoyable to the others we share these experiences with.

But there's a silver lining in experiences like these: we can learn that uncomfortable experiences have a beginning a middle and an end. They pass, like all experiences do--good or bad. If we allow ourselves to experience feelings that are uncomfortable, they pass. We can breathe through things that we anticipate may cause us discomfort. Flooding, is a term we can use to describe the allowing process. We just allow the sensations to run through us--over us, below us, to run their course with out resisting. We may realize that it wasn't quite as bad as we made it out to be in our fight or flight-ed-ness. And what's more, we may have the opportunity to see that there are other story-lines happening concurrently that we might have otherwise missed. Maybe those "other" story lines were actually the main story line after all.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Universal Truths

"A human being is a part of the whole that we call the universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest -- a kind of optical illusion of his consciousness. This illusion is a prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for only the few people nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living beings and all of nature."

A lot of things amaze me. There are a lot of complex concepts to consider. And a lot of simplicity to consider just the same. We can get caught up though in all this considering, and weighing, and pondering and gesticulating, so much so, that we are not present. Not present to just be. But Just being is an equally valid destination. If you don't know were you're going, however, you'll never get there. I have found that stopping --just to Be--through meditation, always amounts to what I am beginning to notice are universal truths. But what exactly is meditation? To me, meditation is an unplanned introduction to who we are at the most basic, universal level. It is a way of slowing down and focusing inward. It is a way of allowing ourselves to do nothing for a period of time. Allowing ourselves just to observe ourselves. To observe the endless thought stream which is our mind. The mind which Buddhists refer to as Monkey mind. Swinging from thought to thought to thought, grabbing bananas on the run. In so doing we learn something about the nature of our inner realities, the direction our minds tend to go when given free reign.

"Being aware of your basic nature promotes happiness and balance."

And then making the choice, to come back to our bodies and notice how it feels to enlarge our chest cavities as we invite the air to nourish every cell of our beings. recognizing the weight of our hands as they rest upward facing ready to receive that which can be learned from our silence.

We notice how we feel being supported by the earth. We may notice, an itch and maybe come to realize that we can breathe it away. We may begin to feel at a deeper level,our connection to our surroundings. We may notice that in our day to dayness we haven't felt that connection in a while. Our charge then as we sit and breathe, it is said to be, is to witness. To be the observer. The observer of the monkey mind as it changes gear again and again. And as a good witness, it is unbiased. "Just the facts, sir" . So we Observe the thoughts that we're having and maybe we draw some conclusions. Maybe we have some epiphanies, and if you really want to amaze yourself, you may come to know that someone else, somewhere else in the world, is coming to the same conclusions you are. Someone,Somewhere In the past or the future, or at this present moment is realizing that there are no new ideas? Just variations on themes. And all of these things reside in our essence, which is a constant. Our essence resides in stillness. It is like an elderly grandparent living alone who likes a visitor now and then to hold her hand and just sit a while. Essence is like an Elderly Grandparent with a candy bowl full of wisdom to share. And there is no candy sweeter than the candy your grandmother sneaks you when your parents aren't looking.

"The secret of health for both body and mind, is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly."

Monday, March 3, 2008

If You Want To Experience God

If you want to experience God, Walk outside.
If you want to experience God, Walk back in.
If you want to experience God, Walk your dog.
If you want to experience God, Walk inside a Church.
If you want to experience God, Walk around a Temple.
If you want to experience God, Walk through a Synagogue.

If you want to experience God, Sit in a field of Clover.
If you want to experience God, Sit under an Oak Tree.
If you want to experience God, Sit on your Couch with your Family.
If you want to experience God, Sit at your Desk and Work.
If you want to experience God, Sit in a Doctor's office and wait for test results.
If you want to experience God, Sit in the Red Cross and Donate Blood.

If you want to experience God, Smell the scent of an Orange as you cut it to Juice.
If you want to experience God, Smell the fragrance in the air just after a violent storm.
If you want to experience God, Smell the aroma of a hastily cooked meal.
If you want to experience God, Smell the mingling of floral arrangements at the funeral of a child.
If you want to experience God, Smell the adolescent musk of a high school locker room.
If you want to experience God, Smell the abandonment in the SPCA.

If you want to experience God, Feel the hands of a newborn baby.
If you want to experience God, Feel the freedom of a teenager with a driver's license.
If you want to experience God, Feel the despair of postpartum depression.
If you want to experience God, Feel the rush of a milkshake brain-freeze.
If you want to experience God, Feel the disappointment of being "stood-up".
If you want to experience God, Feel the embrace of Newlyweds on an Altar.

If you want to experience God, Hold your new-born baby for the very first time.
If you want to experience God, Hold the hand of your grandmother in her Hospice room.
If you want to experience God, Hold a child awakened by a bad dream.
If you want to experience God, Hold your breath as your child's first pet dies.
If you want to experience God, Hold a warm bowl of soup in your hands.

If you want to experience God, Carry your son's luggage as he moves into his first dorm.
If you want to experience God, Carry boxes of clothing and books to the Salvation Army.
If you want to experience God, Carry a backpack of a learning disabled child.
If you want to experience God, Carry the backpack of a National Honor Society Student.
If you want to experience God, Carry the disappointment of the child who sits on the bench.
If you want to experience God, Carry the expectations of the high school MVP.

If you want to experience God: Walk, and Sit, Smell and Feel, Hold and Carry, and Experience God.

"Through working in harmony with life's circumstances, Taoist understanding changes what others may perceive as negative into something positive. Of course real progress involves growing and developing, which involves changing inside."

-Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh