Neil Young, Harvest moon…love in the air

Last night I was stopped in my tracks as the moon was coming up over the fields.  It looked like the sun rising.  Checked the Farmers Almanac, realized tonight is the night!  Neil Young and Harvest Moon, watch this!  All about the love baby, pass it on:)

Go outside tonight and see what your harvest moon looks like!  I hope to report back tomorrow with a picture of a moon like this;)

acknowledging simple abundance

On my walk to the barn yesterday morning I was struck by the sounds of nature; a cacophony of bird calls, crickets and bugs.  Everything seemed more alive than the day before.  The more I listened, the louder everything sounded.  It was like someone turned up the volume, when in fact all I did was tune in.

It occurred to me that when we pay close attention to things that please us, that make us smile, or bring us joy, the impact is greater.  The other side of the equation is that when we are bothered by something, give too much attention to it, then it will also deliver emotion, but be draining instead of life affirming.

My meditation today was to be conscious of giving attention to life-affirming moments, and let any that are irritable or irksome pass by. 

Meditation on self

If the whole world praises him, he is not elated.

If the whole world condemns him, he is not beaten.

In a word, praise and blame cannot change his conduct.

Such a man possess true virtue.

As for myself, I am still among those who are influenced by the opinions of others, like the wind moves the waves.  Chuang-tzu

walking meditation among the chaos

Grass thick with dew.  The moon grudgingly holding the sky  in the west as the sun rises lazily in the east. I walk our dog Cally on our trails.  Crickets, birds and even squirrels calling.  I use my morning walk to set the tone for the day.  Gratitude extended to our Creator.  I stop periodically to stretch or to enter into a yoga pose.  Nothing beats yoga off the mat.  Feeling light.

Reverie interrupted as Cally lurched  forwards to what had previously been an unseen ground-hog.  Cally had a bad run in with one last year, where upon his face was clawed, just missing his eyes…resulting in a vet visit, rabies shot and meds…We were perilously close to another go-around, I instinctively yelled “Aaaahhhh!!!” then “Cally, NO!”..maybe more like a battle cry or demonic wail than a clear command! It worked though because  both Cally and the ground-hog stopped in their tracks…I laughed inwardly at the absurdity of the situation….where is my camera?!  Both animals staring at me now, apparently waiting for the next instruction…to which I accommodated with”Cally, Come!“.  He did come, was treated, and the ground-hog waddled off looking periodically behind him (and I believe he would have scratched his head if his arms were long enough)  Perhaps thinking…“what the?”!

My heart returned quickly to its pre-surprise state.  As did my state of calm.  This is what walking meditation does for you.  You may enter into a situation of stress in your day, but are able to respond clearly and quickly.  The event  resolved as soon as it began.

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Buddhist monk and scholar.  I have read many of his books and apply many of his lessons to my life, daily, easily.  From his book Happiness, he says:”Our mind tends to dart from one thing to another, like a monkey swinging from branch to branch without stopping to rest.  Thoughts have millions of pathways, and they forever pull us along into the world of forgetfulness.  If we can transform our walking path into a field for meditation, our feet will take every step in full awareness.  Our breathing will be in harmony with our steps, and our mind will naturally be at ease.  Every step we take will reinforce our peace and joy and cause a stream of calm energy to flow through us.”

If I can do this, so can you…walking to the car, in the grocery store or mowing the lawn.

time out! children and parents

I remember when Emily was wee, that “time-outs” were discussed and encouraged by child-rearing guru’s for children that misbehaved.  For Emily, that meant sitting on the bottom step in our Victorian home.  I admit that there were few times for her to have a “time-out” because, as the only child, there were fewer opportunities to get into trouble in the first place!  When it did occur, she was indignant to be chastised in such a manner…apparently well below her station!….however, when that passed, she became quiet…then very happy!  This would undoubtedly translate to singing and laughing!…

The most entertaining for Pat and I would be those times when Emily and her cousin Anna would require a time-out.  (o’k, they are 7 here!)  One would be placed upon the first step and the other on a stool nearby.  Invariably, the event evoked tears initially, but then, as if a switch was flipped, the two of them would look at each other, make faces, then bust out laughing! ….then plead for us to let them go back to play time!  They were so little, maybe 3 at the time.

For the past two days the weather has been unsettled.  We had rain, and windy conditions.  Since the explosion, I tend to become nervous with dark clouds and wind.  Not surprisingly, I woke to a regular occurance…migraine….ugh!  When this happens, I try to stay in bed and put ice on my head, and with any luck go back to sleep. My dearest and beloved husband thought that it would be fun to take a picture of me with both migraine and sinus infection!

I may as well show you my hairy chin while I am at it!

When I arose for the day, my headache had waned, but I carried the unwanted anxiety.  I know now….3 years after the accident, to take a time out.  I have my meditation pillow in my bedroom which I am pulled to like a child to their blanky in pre-school.

It is here, that I give myself permission to pause.  In the pause there is silence and freedom of breath.  No anxieties, no insecurities or worries.  In time I open my eyes to the wonder of yet another day.

what do you want?

give that which you wish to receive…

Most times this will make you go out of your comfort zone, but keep at it.  You will eventually reach a place that is fulfilling and comfortable, and then you will be asked again to give that which you wish to receive…..

Finding your centre, without being self-centred

I am constantly amazed that our bodies give us physical signs that we are out of sync.  This summer has been very busy, and in a different way than any other year.  Now settling into our life on Summerhill, I am participating in activities like unloading straw into the hay mow, pulling obscene amounts of weeds out of the garden, again and again! and my favorite; cleaning horse stalls each morning, then bedding at night.

Two weeks ago I started having low back pain, which I rarely get; and if I do it’s because I am moving furniture around by myself;).  I ignored the pain and kept pushing ahead.   Then I was getting the ever delightful back spasms.  Still being a bit daft, since “I don’t get back pain”, I continued to ignore it.  When I could barely get out of bed one day, I decided, hey, maybe its time to listen.  Fine, a little stretch here and there should do it.  Uhm…no.  I gave in to the discomfort with a small gesture of morning and evening stretches.  Still no go.  Pain getting worse.

I finally took a moment as I iced my back, to take stock of my life and find out if I created the pain through a one time event or if I was systematically ignoring the need to be balanced in my activities.
Not surprisingly, it was the second.  I found that just because I could do work on the farm, it didn’t mean that I had to do it all at once.  I suddenly realized that the less I took care of myself, the less I was enjoying all the other activities in my day.

It is difficult sometimes to put yourself first.  It seems counter-intuitive to make sure that your own needs are met before your family.  However, if we take the time each day, even in a small way,  to take care of ourselves then we invariably are happier and healthier.  When we were busy raising Emily and had many work and social commitments, my “me” time was always a 15 min. bath before I started dinner.  It gave me a pause, and there I re-centered.

My back issues served as a reminder to take care.  Being centered is not only a more pleasant and meaningful way to move about the day, but it becomes a silent gift to everyone you come across.

doing the superiority dance opens way for a knock upside the head

Yes, yesterday I was feeling so superior that I found my special friend Marcus Aurelius again.  Philosopher extraordinaire!  I went to bed all “zen and peace”, only to be wakened by our dog Cally whose stomach was pitching and heaving, with the tell tale “I -am- about-to-puke” burping.  I leapt out of bed, ran to the hall, stepped in his puke, then he blew his contents….ahhh yes, … where did my zen go?  Tracking sticky bile, I led him to the front door, mainly so that  he could be outside while I cleaned up the mess.   On my hands and knees, paper towels for initial clean, rags,bucket and soapy water for the big clean.  Nothing like cleaning bile and bits of dead forest stuff from the hardwood at 3:00 in the morning.

I did “kind of” chuckle to myself as I realized that if I had actually possessed the zen-like calm that Aurelius spoke of, and we all try to practice, then the barfing incident would not have bothered me so much.  So if I want to be all zen and peace, then it takes practice right?  And practice only comes in the form of life and its little curve-balls, challenges and jokes.  Well last night, I was the butt-end of that joke the universe threw out…until the next time;)

laundry and the power to transform

I love laundry.  I have a special connection to laundering; I met my husband in the campus laundry mat at Queens.   If I could be wearing baggy sweatpants, big purple glasses and a volcanic cold sore and still manage to seem appealing; then surely there was something more to the act of laundering our clothes.

Many years ago when I was much busier(working, family, travelling),uncharacteristically I found myself bitter about doing the laundry.   This was a feeling that I would never have had before.  I always enjoyed the process of laundering clothes…sorting,loading from washer to dryer, folding from the dryer, folding from the laundry line, and yes—even ironing.  I had a moment of self pity: why am “I” the only one that does the laundry?  whine…whine…whine… Why can’t “someone else” do it? whine….whine…whine…

I remembered a quote from the book I was reading at the time,
“The ordinary arts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest. “Thomas Moore

I knew that truth, but I needed the reminder…  I recalled the days when I shopped a lot at second-hand stores and “vintage” shops;)  I remembered easily the fact that I didn’t always have the money to buy new clothes, and was diligent in keeping clothes clean so that I wouldn’t have to spend extra money laundering them.  I reminded myself that I was in fact, very blessed to be in the position of having clothes to launder, sheets to change and diapers to wash.  Changing the way I viewed the job, transformed the activity from a chore to an act of gratitude.

Most of us have read or heard of Eckhart Tolle’s books.  He is a spiritual leader from B.C. and his groundbreaking book, “The Power of Now” made him famous and one of “Oprah’s” favorites.  As referenced by the title, the importance of being present, not wishing your moments away, is the key to a heightened consciousness.  I would add, peace.  He put the consequences of complaining our moments away like this:”To complain is always non acceptance of what is.  It invariably carries with it an unconscious negative charge.”

So when I have my dog smiling at me because he has luxuriated in the bog, or fingerprints on the windows(when Emily was little), or dirty floors that need cleaning again: I make the shift from irritation to gratitude for animals in my life, children leaving their signatures, and people in my home.