Sunday, March 27, 2011

STILL???!!! or Still

      I am sometimes aware – unfortunately, or at least with a measure of judgment and disappointment – of an inner-atmosphere that is not exactly compassionate or accepting.  Sometimes my attempts to sit in stillness end up in an appalled “STILL????!!!!”. “I am STILL worried about this? triggered by this? Spinning THAT thought round and round and round???”  No specific words, really. More of an impatience with myself, a frustration and feeling of discouragement.
            The place of “STILL???!!!!” is a place of absolutes.  A place of “always” and “never”. A place of harsh judgments. “I’ll never get this right.” “I always overreact.” “This will never be ok”.  It is a place of duality -- of black OR white, right OR wrong. It is a place that is caught in time – which makes no sense. Just as holding ourselves in impatience and disapproval makes no sense.
            I suppose that tough standards for ourselves are the result of a need for safety. In our humanity, we do our best to survive and feel safe – even if it means self-betrayal.  We do whatever we feel we need to do to be accepted and cared for. Bringing those tough standards and unconscious beliefs to consciousness is not always easy. On a deep level, we still believe that our survival depends upon that belief we’re holding on to. When we try to shed light on the unconscious beliefs, the old, original, irrational fears can be triggered. We fear for our very survival.
I imagine it’s like a glitch on a hard drive that causes quirks in a computer. We can function in the world, but are sometimes quirky. We do what we need to do but are, perhaps, dissatisfied. Some unconscious beliefs are far more destructive and keep us from experiencing basic happiness or a sense of connection with life itself.
How do we transform “STILL?????!!!!!” to still? To stillness. Peace. Acceptance. Compassion.
I believe Rumi expresses it beautifully:

Rumi - Guest House
This being human is a guest house

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently
sweep your house
 empty of its furniture,

still treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

meet them at the door laughing,

and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,

because each has been sent 
as a guide from beyond.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Turning 50 this month and aware of a wide variety of thoughts, ideas, beliefs, ‘rules to live by’ etc., that I wish I had known a long, long time ago (although I probably would not have wanted to hear nor could have understood at the time). 

So here goes (and not in any particular order):

1    Love yourself.  Love yourself madly, passionately, whole-heartedly.
2.     Everything and everyone is God. This is closely related to #1.
3.     Learn to perceive life from a variety of perspectives: physical, mental/emotional, soul and spirit.
4.     Be the best parent to yourself, providing loving, gentle discipline (self-discipline), including getting plenty of sleep, eating healthy food – veggies before dessert, etc. – drinking lots of water and exercising consistently.
5.     The things that irk the most have hidden in them the greatest lessons, although often humbling and sometimes painful.
6.     Trust that life is unfolding just as it should.
7.     Your true friends will be there no matter what. (See #6).
8.     Gossip is hurtful and never a good idea.
9.     There is no “time out” from life and living well.
10. Know the difference between your thoughts/mind/intellect and your emotions/heart/feelings and consciously use both.
11. Trust your intuition.
12. The only true problem is stagnation, which is very different from stillness, as stillness is necessary for a peaceful life.
13. Notice beauty.
14. Figure out what you love to do and create and do it often.
15. You are of God, a Divine being. Everything you think, say, do, experience is of God. Act and live with conscious awareness of this Truth.
16. There is meaning in everything and it’s up to each of us to find the meaning.
17. Live in integrity – especially with yourself.
18. Be bold. Take risks.
19. Live beyond the good or bad opinion of others. What other people think of you truly doesn’t matter.
20. Recognize when you’re doing the same thing expecting a different result and – with huge compassion – try something else.
21. Dance often.
22. Make love often
23. Enjoy living sensually – good food, fine wine, surrounded by beauty.
24. We are all connected to each other and to Nature.
25. Play.
26. At every age, know what brings you joy and find a way to partake in that joy.
27. Be generous, with your time, talent, money, stuff. It is in giving that we receive.
28. Learn something new every day.
29. Remember the things you dreamed of being and doing as a child and either do them or do the essence of them.
30. Laugh often. Cry as often as you need to. (See #17).
31. Love yourself enough to be protective of yourself and your time.
32. There is always time for what’s most important to you.
33. Cherish true friendship.
34. Let the people that you love know that you love them, sometimes by saying so but more often by your actions.
35. Let go of all expectations of what you thought life was supposed to be and let life show you what it is.
36. Live what’s possible, not what’s probable.
37. Build on your passions.
38. Notice beauty – flowers, birdsong, wind, rain, sunrises, sunsets, grass, etc. and be grateful.
39. Give thanks for everything.
40. Ask questions.
41. Be open to true connections with every person you meet, whether  a cashier at the grocery store or a long-lost friend.
42. Communicate in person as much as possible, or by telephone, i.e, don’t hide behind texts and facebook, which are wonderful ways to keep in touch but not a replacement for the real thing.
43. Let go of things that no longer work – including relationships, jobs, ideas, beliefs, etc., etc.
44. Try new things often.
45. Be curious, as a child experiencing for the first time.
46. Don’t wait to do the things that are important or exciting or simply fun. Live now.
47. Be honest, especially with yourself, and impeccable with your word.
48. Pray, meditate, contemplate. Have a disciplined practice of connecting with God and make sure that it works for you, as opposed to being something you were told to do or feel you “should” do. Keep searching for your way of connecting with God until you find it and you’ll know you found it when it’s a visceral experience.
49. Live with love as your main purpose.
50. Age is only as important as you let it be.

So have I missed anything?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Magic of Language

 A word after a word after a word is power.
                                                                        from Margaret Atwood’s poem, Spelling

Words . . . are little houses, each with its cellar and garret. . . . To mount too high or descend too low is allowed in the case of poets, who bring earth and sky together.
                                                                        Gaston Bachelard

 Words about words – like looking up the word “dictionary” in the dictionary.  There’s an absurdity to it. It’s almost circular and nonsensical. I recently read an article in which a man described a night in Indonesia. He was staying in a hut in the middle of rice paddies.  It was a spectacular, star-filled night and the vast night sky was perfectly reflected in the dark, flat water surrounding him. He described feeling weightless, not sure which way was up. Something about the reflection was disorienting, as using words to describe words may be. The definition of “word” is: “a unit of language, consisting of one or more spoken sounds or their written representation, that functions as a principal carrier of meaning.” The definition goes on to say that words are “composed of one or more morphemes”, etc. etc. – which is a word I don’t know the meaning of. Interesting that I don’t understand the definition of the word “word”.
We communicate through the words that we speak, hear, read, write and there’s an assumption that what we mean to say is being understood by our chosen audience. But each word is rich in its own history and meaning, in addition to being subject to individual interpretation.  When I ask for a little enthusiasm for something I’m starting in my life, am I consciously aware of asking for, essentially, divine inspiration.  (en-, in, within + theos, god or “possessed by god”).  Clearly not a conscious request, as the word “enthusiasm” has somehow been watered down to a more cheerleader-like quality then its original magnitude may suggest.
It makes me wonder if I’m ever really saying, or hearing, what is truly being said.  What is understanding?  The etymology of “understanding” is “standing in the midst of.” Perhaps we are meant to allow words to engulf us, like a reflected starry sky, so that the true meaning – altered and enhanced from the original attempt to express a new idea by each murmur and expression  of it  – can have its impact.