As human beings, if there is one thing that we can all count on, it is that we are not stagnant creatures...whether we like to admit it or not, we change, the seasons change, time goes on and we have no control about growing older.
Monday, August 27, 2012, I sent my nephew off for his first day of his last year of school. It left me with a strange feeling, and more than a moment's reflection about the move towards independence that we all embark on from the moment of our birth.
Yes, there are certain situations when one may not develop according to the norm, but in most circumstances we move along a predictable path of childhood, youth, and young adulthood in our educational goals and into the finer maturation of adulthood.
Do you recall your first day of kindergarten...that first experience of leaving the home environment and setting off for a new adventure? Were you excited about school...about learning...meeting new friends? And, for those who have reached the goal of completing their high school or college education, do you recall the first day that you stepped into that revered position of being a senior? Or, perphaps it is the very last day of school that you recollect...
What is accomplished in the years a child is in school?
More than a formal education, we teach our child values and character. On the path of independence we guide them from listening to what we want them to do, to making sound decisions for themselves. Decisions that incorporates the lessons we have taught within the home, and the role modeling we have exhibited.
As summer wanes into fall and September brings the fresh smell of new books and chalk, let us offer a blessing to the teachers who publicly and privately take our children through the adventure of learning. Whether it is your child's first year of school, or his last, it is important to provide an environment conducive to learning, and supporting those adults who are part of the process.
And, let us bless the student, young and old, whomever she or he may be, who is on the journey of becoming an independent thinker. May the mind stay curious and open to new information; may there be delight in the adventure of learning; and may new opportunities for growth present themselves each day. Amen.
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
How do you celebrate spring?
I just returned from my first spiritual retreat for 2012 and was pleasantly surprised at the unusually warm weather we enjoyed. Due to its location in the northern part of the United States, I am commonly met with cold, wet moisture of some sort; rain or snow or a mixture of both at this time of year. The dampness chills my bones and the skies are overcast and gloomy.
This is how the transition between winter and spring is, and March tends to hang onto winter a bit longer than necessary, in my opinion. But, for whatever reason, there was a change to this seasonal pattern and I was grateful for the sun, blue skies and lovely temperatures that made the outdoor walks so delightful.
Always focusing on the soul’s development, this particular retreat had a built in surprise: a celebration that would be a coordination of the group’s individual experiences of what ‘celebration’ meant on both spiritual and personal levels. Like the bright weather that met us throughout the weekend, it was an appealing variance. When I recall the events that unfolded, with its upbeat itinerary, I can’t help but liken this to the emerging season and ask, “What makes us look forward to spring with joyful hearts?”
Spring is a season of renewal. The trees move from drab to dress with the regalia of perfumed flowers. If you visualize the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival held in Washington D.C. you understand the flavor of ceremony when the bursting buds exhibit their glory.
Across the south and up along the east coast the magic of spring is reflected by nature’s appearance, not only through trees and flowers rising from the ground, but the ground itself opening up to offer opportunity for growth.
The air is filled with the sound and sight of birds in flight calling to find a mate. Butterflies return and fill the sky with an eye-catching kaleidoscope of color. Winter waters, stagnate or slowed, begin to move once more, bringing new life into its environment.
A breath of freshness sweeps across the country when spring arrives. ‘Fresh’ carries a quality of lightness-a lighthearted, playful, ‘aliveness’ invigorates and uplifts. We want to tumble in meadows that are abuzz with the sounds of insects busy with their business; skip down sidewalks that had been covered with dead foliage, and swing windows wide open to receive the breezes of the magnificent spring splendor.
The whole world seems to sparkle-to hold a crisp, clean feel, as winter’s dullness segues into the clarity and luminosity of spring.
How do we shake the winter sleep from our consciousness and awaken to the world in a fresh, clean way? Do we mistake our patterns of routine for our life, expecting nothing new, or do we greet the season of, not only springtime but each day, as an opportunity to stay freshly in the moment?
Before leaving your bed in the morning sense into your body. If you note tension in your muscles before you even step onto the floor take several slow, deep breaths in through your nose, exhaling through your mouth with pursed lips, as if you were slowly blowing out a candle. Do this for at least ten breaths to help you relax.
Next become aware if your mind is racing with the many things you have to do for the day. A racing mind cannot be calm and leads to muscle tension and disease. Continue to breathe slowly, in the manner previously suggested, while affirming that all is right in your world.
Once more, focus on sensing into the field of energy that surrounds and is part of you. A racing mind will inhibit this. Using your relaxation breath work, stay aware of the energy field as you begin your day and periodically ‘check in’ to this field noting where your attention is, how calm you are and with what ease you make your decisions. When in doubt, return to the relaxation breathing. By doing this you choose to stay attentive to each experience as it presents itself-fresh awareness that allows you to let go of old, habitual reactions. Releasing the past and refusing to draw pre-conceived conclusions of the outcome of a situation creates the opportunity to feel the gift of what is in your life right at that moment…an ability to see with new eyes, hear with new ears.
At the end of your day, as you fall asleep, relax and sense into your body releasing any tension. This includes any mind chatter-the incessant check lists we find ourselves engaged in as we attempt to make peace with our day. Follow the relaxation breath work: slow breath in, like a wave meeting the beach; slow breath out, a steady stream pulling back into the ocean. Refocus on your energy field noting if you experience a calm, quiet feeling which will allow for the radiance of who you are to ‘sparkle’. Release and rejuvenate.
This spring, I invite you to celebrate. Celebrate who you are and the regality that is your Divine right. Enjoy meeting yourself with fresh eyes; and greeting yourself as a lover does with his beloved-tenderly and with a full heart.
How will you celebrate spring this year? Perhaps with the anticipation of a child who knows there is something delightfully worth waiting for? Or, with the ongoing curiosity of the deep mystery that continues to reveal to us the preciousness of ourselves.
Happy First Day of Spring!
Additional reading by this author:
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
What does the word compassion bring to your mind? Sometimes people mistake feelings of sympathy for compassion. Often, when we express pity for ourselves or others, we believe that we are compassionate beings. However, it is not necessarily a compassionate act to feel sorry for other people. Sometimes, it is a greater act of authenticity to be strong for someone in an act of true support, even in those times when our strength appears to be harsh.
Imagine the daunting job that a good parent has. With both right and wrong behavior one must remain a guiding light for the child that he has brought into the world. At times this role may seem to be filled with conflict as a parent wrestles with daily decisions of how to teach the lessons of life that his child must learn, while maintaining a balance of loving kindness.
If a parent does not hold compassion for the child, his actions can appear too strict and break the child's spirit. If a parent, however, takes pity on a child, his actions teach him nothing and this lack of discipline will haunt the child in ways of formulating a weak character.
In all actions one can hold compassion in one's heart that will be a steadfast guide. When the intent of the beholder is one of Truth, this compassion flows outward in a natural way, even when the situation is a painful or delicate issue. When there is intention that does not reside in the heart of the beholder, but comes forth from an egoic structure in the form of manipulation, compassion is absent and the lack of integrity is revealed. This is often loosely disguised as comfort, but can easily be felt by the recipient as pity. Where there is pity, judgement resides.
In exploring our own level of compassion we are often surprised to discover a lack of compassion for our own selves. This comes across in many forms: negative thoughts or statements we make about ourselves; a devaluation of our role in society, or within our own families; our lack of healthy habits; a lack of attention for our needs and a disregard of what our heart desires.
Compassion can be nurtured and will grow, like the cool, green seedling planted deep within our hearts. When we connect with this essence that is a natural part of our soul, we experience a soothing balm, assuaging the deep wounds that keep us from connecting with our authentic selves. It takes but a few moments to consciously connect with the compassion that yearns to reveal itself to us. It takes willingness, curiousity, and awareness to seek the compassion within.
Won't you let this year be the one in which you practice holding compassion in your heart? It may be the sweetest gift you ever give to yourself.
Namaste, and many blessings...
Additional writing by this author: The Pearl
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Happy New Year!
What comes to your mind when you reach the end of one year and face the coming year? Is it a sense of relief and a sigh of exhaustion? Or, is it a sense of accomplishment and an air of excitement?
Depending on our personal experiences we each face the New Year with a different focus. For some, it is a time to 'party hearty' and get on with making soon-to-be-forgotten resolutions. For me, I like to take time to reflect on all of the blessings I have received in the past year and create goals to move toward in the coming year.
My wish that we can all become enlightened to who we really are, as spiritual beings manifested in human form, is one I carry in my heart throughout the year-no matter what the season.
May you each have a joyful year filled with love and serenity. Peace be yours in this New Year.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
What is the Inner Journey?
For me, it has been a life time of questions pondering my existence.
In the beginning it was a childish wonder of what my relationship was to God. This was followed by the adolescent quest to know who I was in relationship to the world. At the end of my early schooling I discovered that I knew no more than when I began my journey to know. I left my Christian upbringing to inquire into other world religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, etc. This was beneficial and necessary. I learned that all formal religions have a dogma and beliefs, rituals, stories, and even folklore. There is a rich history within each organization. I also knew this did not satisfy my thirst for what I sought.
Many years passed during my continued search for a deeper relationship with God. I raised my family and attended other Christian churches, including some that leaned toward metaphysics. I had many personal experiences that brought me to a deeper level of awareness.
Eventually, my love for Truth brought me to my current Spiritual path. This includes the practice of meditation, mindfulness, retreat, inquiry, and soul development. Through this practice I experience love, strength, compassion, joy, comfort, peace, knowledge, clarity, and awareness. The awareness of the presence of my Being-the Being of that which I am.
What do I seek and what do I hope to achieve, if anything, while on this path of Truth? Primarily, for love of that which is real and actual, beyond the ego structures. To continue to deepen realizations of Oneness with all that is; to live in this world as loving Presence; to develop my Soul and all of her aspects; to bring light and clarity into the world as a spiritual being; and, at all times, to commit to Truth.
My desire is to share my own experiences with others who are on this Inner Journey as a source of comfort, compassion and support. Although the road may appear empty at times, and the journey lonely, we are never alone. It is the light within that perpetually shines and guides us.
Many blessings to all my fellow travellers. May you all have the Heart of a Warrior in your quest for Truth.