Haiku – pre dawn softening

Photo by David Kanigan at Live and Learn http://www.davidkanigan.com

~

Pre dawn mist and calm

Softens my heart for the day

Find your Middle Ground

~

There can be a special sense of buoyancy and gentle aliveness as we wake up in the morning.

Let it be an invitation to awaken to the unfolding of the day.

Opening our hearts into the unknown.

Without judgment or activation of the prefrontal cortex or calendar.

Give yourself permission to drift into the day and appreciate this centeredness.

With gentle focus and loving acceptance let the day unfold.

It’s a wonderful time to connect to your Middle Ground.

Allow there to be space for whatever wants to be known and seen from deep within.

Namaste

 

It’s Honey Time Again!

We have just bottled our second batch of Don Valley raw honey, and it is ready to go!

This is different from our early harvest of acacia honey from the black walnut trees. It has a variety of blossoms including tulip poplar and clover. It’s a fuller more floral honey than the early delicacy, but its still delicious and lighter than store bought.

Alas, there is no mailing to my distant friends as we don’t have plastic bottles.

This week, I will drop off some at Hummingbird Yoga and Massage in Bryn Mawr.

The price is $10 for a one pound bottle.

Please text me if you would like me to set aside some bottles for you and to arrange curbside pickup at our home in Newtown Square PA. My cell is 484 986 4074. Leave your name in case you aren’t on my contact list. Thanks!

The bees have had a rough year. We aren’t sure what has happened to diminish the numbers, but Don is working each hive to ensure the queens and their girls thrive!

Looking at the photo below from last year. We lost the big hive #3 in November and were able to build up hive #1 this Spring. Hive #1 seems to be struggling now as the brood and honey supply is patchy. It takes dedication, patience  and flexibility to maintain bees these days.honey bees

“It Doesn’t Get Much Better Than This”

close up of an animal eating grass

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

He turned to me

and said “It doesn’t

get much better

than this.”

 

Yes indeed.

 

Say yes to life and

embrace each moment.

Be ready for the instant of

precious unfolding.

 

Watch out for the magic.

Be alert to nature’s

harmonies. Pay attention

to those small details that

catch your eye, or touch

you like butterfly wings.

Here and gone in a breath.

 

Breathe it all in. Every inhale

an opening to a new present.

Every exhale a letting go

of the past.

 

You say “It can’t be 

as easy as that”. 

… Yet, it is.

 

Open your senses and

your heart to the

wonder of it all.

In the journey into

the present you

come to realize…

there is Love here.

~ Val Boyko

 

Nothing Stays the Same

Three weeks ago I began to write this post. As I came back to it, I realized that nothing stays the same. When we address what is going on inside of us, we can shift our experience of the world.

green dragonfly on tree branch

The dragonfly is a symbol of transformation and change. Photo by Ryan Delfin on Pexels.com

All around me people seem to be getting back into their social lives. Next door is having a birthday party. It started with kiddies enjoying themselves in the pool, then more family members and friends joining in with karaoke.

I feel apart. I can’t imagine having that much fun these days. Friends are moving away. Family is across the ocean. My community of likeminded souls in Kripalu is closed for the rest of the year. I am home in a lovely place with a man who is struggling right now. Lets face it, the cancer diagnosis and treatment over 4 years has taken its toll.

The vibrancy and appreciation of life has diminished. There is gratitude for being here … Yet the celebration has died.

We lost our middle dog Dilys, two weeks ago. She was such a bright spirit and cheeky wee dog. She made me smile, and still does with all those memories. The older dog Meghan isn’t doing well and has to take a lot of meds and special food to prevent kidney failure. Teddy, the young boy is enjoying the attention and becoming quite the man about the house. There is calm.

I tell myself “My external world has shrunk. I must ignite my inner world if I am to get through this.”

This was a notice to deep within. It’s time to acknowledge and accept fully what is happening right now. It’s time to ask myself what I can do to become excited and inspired once again! Can I relax enough to allow the opening of my heart instead of the evaluating and somewhat judging mind?

As part of my ongoing Retreat approach to this time, I had enrolled in two online experiences for July. The first was a 6 week writing experience and sharing with Roger Housden and a group of fellows on their own path to explore their inner world and awakening through writing.

The second, was a one day retreat with Jonathan Foust on self inquiry as part of the spiritual path.

Well folks, I am happy to report that both have ignited something that is ready to be expressed and to be celebrated. I am writing again, reaching out to others, and finding laughter and joy in my days. In the highs and lows of life, I have rediscovered contentment.

May we all find our way to live from our heart and our Middle Ground.

Namaste

 

Finding Richness in our Lives

flight landscape nature sky

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

As life becomes harder and more threatening, it also becomes richer, because the fewer expectations we have, the more the good things of life become unexpected gifts that we accept with gratitude.

~ Etty Hillesum

This time is one of letting go. Letting go of the expectations we had about how life would unfold.

There is something so much bigger taking place right now. We are entering a new way of living and being, and there is no going back, for every individual, our community, society and the human race.

I feel unease and fear for others who are struggling right now. My heart goes out to the fearful, the angry, the belligerent, and the denyers among us. It will be hard on them. They are resisting a new reality and will suffer.

This time is a time to bring our focus onto life’s unexpected gifts and to be grateful. I’ve noticed that I am more and more grateful for the relationships I have, even when I can’t be with people in the same way.

Gratefulness brings us ease and opens our hearts for connection, kindness and love.

It can’t solve the problems we are experiencing, but it can release our fears and allow us to become centered and calm. It can bring us to our Middle Ground, where new possibilities and inspiration arise from a knowing deep within.

Namaste

 

 

Opening to Self Compassion

wait in gratitude

“Self-compassion is a way of relating to the ever-changing landscape of who we are with kindness and acceptance—especially when we fail or feel inadequate … Self-compassion requires acknowledging that we share the human condition of imperfection.”   ~ Kristen Neff

How many of us learned about this when we were young? … How many of us are teaching our children about this? …

In today’s culture, especially in America, there is so much emphasis on self confidence, competing to win and striving for what you want in life. Yet, so much of it is out of our control.

We all know that mistakes happen and we don’t all win the prize at the end of the day.

How do you cope with these natural downturns and disappointments that are a part of all life? And how can we prepare ourselves for the inevitable lows of life?

Two wonderful women come to mind who have guided me along the way.

Sara Neff and Tara Brach have so much wisdom and guidance on how we can come to a place of self love and acceptance as adults.

“In order to flower, self-compassion depends on honest, direct contact with our own vulnerability. Compassion fully blossoms when we actively offer care to ourselves. To help people address feelings of insecurity and unworthiness, I often introduce mindfulness and compassion through a meditation I call the RAIN of Self-Compassion. The acronym RAIN, first coined about 20 years ago by Michele McDonald, is an easy-to-remember tool for practicing mindfulness. It has four steps:

Recognize what is going on;
Allow the experience to be there, just as it is;
Investigate with kindness;
Natural awareness, which comes from not identifying with the experience.

You can take your time and explore RAIN as a stand-alone meditation or move through the steps in a more abbreviated way whenever challenging feelings arise.”

~ Tara Brach

I have spent many years helping others find self acceptance and connection to their inner being. However, one of the greatest tools I use, is not in our thinking mind at all.

The simplest way to allow compassion to flow and for the heart to open, is to sit quietly and place one or both hands above your heart center.

Take a moment and try it now.

This gesture activates a soothing response that we mammals have. It replicates the feeling of comfort, safety and nourishment at our mother’s breast. As babies we felt it. As children we received comfort from a motherly hug. Yet, we don’t need someone else to bring about the same physical and emotional response.

You can give yourself this gift at any time.

You can also place a hand on your belly and let the breath settle into the center of your being. When we breathe using the diaphragm, we activate the relaxation response in the para sympathetic nervous system. Anxiety abates as the brain releases comforting hormones.

Connect to your breath and allow the nurturing energy to flow.

Namaste

Stepping Back into the World – Gently

Stepping back into life

Photo by Jas Poole

Dear Readers and Friends, I hope you are well and finding balance in these challenging times. The past few months have been interesting, to say the least … and they seem to be continuing! I am at a loss for words with what I see and hear around me.

At the beginning of the pandemic, I was concerned for others, yet I was filled with hope that we would all come together and support each other in creating a new way of life together; one that cared for each other and the planet. Yet the divisions and strife grow every day. People take sides and believe the unbelievable ….

My mind is losing hope, yet my heart still trusts in what is unfolding. I recall Osho’s words “Remember the emphasis on the heart. The mind lives in doubt and the heart lives in trust. When you trust, suddenly you become centered.”

On a personal level, I am also trusting in my own unfolding. As I wrote in my previous post,
Update-Retreat I have been nurturing myself in my cocoon, teaching yoga on Zoom and taking some online courses. At the beginning of July I began Roger Housden’s course for writers, non writers and poets called “Dropping the Struggle”. I am part of a group of ten who come together and write, prompted by Roger’s wisdom.

It has sparked my inner wisdom and voice again. I am stepping back into the world, gently.

I realize that we all struggle. Each of us struggles in our own way. Many of us keep it to ourselves and try to lock out the pain. Others weep more openly. Many more can’t admit or face this tender wound. There is a lot of confusion and pain in us humans. Especially now.

More than ever, this is a time for understanding, compassion and listening to others … and to our own inner voice.

We will get through this together not apart.I look forward to sharing some old, new and timeless insights with you.

Namaste

 

Update – Retreat

photo of white and brown owl perched on a tree branch

Photo by Erik Karits on Pexels.com

A month ago I would have been at Kripalu for a senior yoga teacher training program… but as we all now know, along with so many other plans, it was cancelled. The latest news is that Kripalu will be closed for the rest of 2020.

I have felt sad, with a deep sense of loss. This was a place for community, learning, and more than anything, a retreat where mind, body and soul can be nourished, cared for and restored.

And then I realized … I am on retreat right now.

The pace has slowed down and I have had lots of alone time in the garden and spending time in the woods. There is also a routine of teaching classes via Zoom, and finding connection with my yoga students and community – not to mention taking other yoga classes and dancing along with Kripalu yogis from all over. My WordPress friends are still here, as well as my Words with Friends gamers!

I have attended online conventions and community calls with SAND (Science and Non Duality) and a weekend of celebration and learning with the global Non Violent Communication Community.

There has been a sense of embracing this cocoon and nurturing myself and the relationships with those I care for.

My next venture is taking a writing workshop in July with Roger Housden. I have never thought of myself as a writer or been attracted to write a book, but I am being drawn to flex my wings  and to see where my next flight might take me.

I feel hopeful for a changed world still. Turbulence, pain and chaos are needed before transformation can happen. It was brought home to me this past week, as we faced two powerful flash thunder storms that devastated our neighborhood. We had some damage, but not much compared with some others. The power was off for five days and even the mailman couldn’t navigate through the fallen tress and downed lines. 

The power is now back on and I am grateful to have clean hair and the luxury of hot water and air conditioning. With the internet happily available, I may spend more time back here. 

I have decided to venture out more with some private yoga in people’s gardens and porches. 

Perhaps this butterfly is ready to emerge from her cocoon very soon.

animal insect macro butterfly

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

 

Inspiration from the Buddhi Bird

Why is it that some of us are suffering right now, while others are doing well, despite immense challenge and adversity?
How we relate to what is happening in our lives comes from our mindset and beliefs, and our experiences in the past.

Let me bring you back to story of the two birds, as a way to see more clearly into your experience.
two birds in a tree
In Mooji’s words:
“Some time ago I saw a picture depicting a parable from the Bhagavad Gita. It showed two birds in a tree, and one of them was building a nest. This one is flying off collecting things, arranging the twigs – its active, doing many things.
Above this bird, on another branch, is a second bird. It looks identical to the first bird, and it’s not building anything. It is just observing. It’s not building a self-image out of its perceiving, and its not deeply interested in any aspect of what it sees. Its perceiving is happening quite spontaneously without effort or judgment. There’s a silence there, that feeling of Being without thought. Just looking.

This is a beautiful portrait of who we are.
These two birds are connected. The first bird represents our dynamic being, the self that is engaged in the world, in future and past, in growing. It is the aspect that is living life with the sense of my family, my children, my work and so on.

The second bird represents that conscious witnessing within us. It is the ability to observe life taking place and activities unfolding, but it is not actually doing anything…

Initially the first bird who is building the nest, may not be aware of the second bird. As soon as it is able to be quiet, it becomes aware of the second bird, which is actually itself at a deeper inner level.

When the first bird’s mind is synchronized with the second bird, the activities become much more gracious. There is a sense of unity, a oneness… The second bird represents the change of perspective from the mode of the person to the state of presence.”

Self isolation and sheltering in place, offers us an opportunity for retreat and to get to know these two different aspects of ourselves.
The first bird engages in the world around it and is also called the I-maker or ego mind. It is the part of ourselves that creates stories about life and how we are experiencing it. It is easily influenced by our feelings, especially fears and desires. For example, when we feel threatened it can create a story about being a victim or create an other version where we become the hero. It can make us feel unworthy or let us believe that we are most worthy, while others are not.
It is the judge, jury and creator of how we believe we SHOULD be living our life.

In times of challenge, this part of ourselves takes center stage. The old ways of being, the habits and the comfort of everyday life as we know it have been taken away.  The I-maker is fearful of being out of control and threatened by the unknown and possible harm.

Have you noticed this part of your being on overdrive these days?…. I certainly have.

The second bird, or other part of ourselves is a conscious witness within us, at a deeper level. Sometimes the I-Maker is called the small self, while the other is referred to as higher Self. The higher Self has a bigger and broader perspective of life. It can see through the stories the small self makes up and sees beyond them. It is without judgment and is always present when we allow our attention to go there. It is called Buddhi and is close to Divine Presence or Source.

I believe that we can touch this deeper part of ourselves when we take time to pause and turn our attention inwards. When we Find our Middle Ground.

Now more that ever, take time to find some quiet space and reflect on this significant time of change. Take time to pause and create a space of Retreat and Reflection. Notice what stories you are telling yourself to try to make sense of what comes up. Notice resistance to the changing reality. Notice how you distract yourself from the discomfort and fear. Let go of judgment and be kind to this part of yourself.

Mindfulness and meditation will open up a bigger part of yourself, and create an anchor in the present moment. If you haven’t practiced meditation or yoga, then this is a wonderful opportunity to come to it. There is much being offered online and with apps such as HeadSpace.

A walk in nature and ten minutes of legs-up-the-wall are my practices these days, when I am not teaching yoga. I find them grounding and approachable. Take the time to explore what works for you.

Namaste

The Lost Sheep and the Shepherd

“Loneliness is not the absence of company, it is grief over that absence. The lost sheep is lonely; the shepherd is not lonely.” ~ William Deresiewicz

white sheep on farm

Photo by kailash kumar on Pexels.com

When we feel lonely, we grieve the absence of company, yet overlook our own. Perhaps we haven’t learned to like or appreciate our own company…
Many of us have relied on others to meet our needs, validate and stimulate us. The desire for the external however, prevents us from seeing and learning to appreciate what is already here within us.

Being content with our own company is a lesson that many of us only learn as we get older. As we learn more about ourselves,  we let go of conditioning and become more authentic and express ourselves in our own way. We like ourselves for who we are and how far we have come.

If we don’t like ourselves, or are afraid of what we might discover when we are alone with our thoughts, then we won’t want to spend time alone. When we do find ourselves alone, we create distraction with the TV or media, reach out for others or numb ourselves with substances.

Take a few moments to reflect on this and how it sits with you.

The second half of the quote shines a different light on loneliness. The lost sheep is missing others, while the shepherd is not lonely. The sheep is a follower of others and is dependent on their company. The shepherd is taking care of his sheep and this is his purpose. There is meaning in his life.

Take a few moments to reflect on what meaning and sense of purpose there is in your life.

Journalling is a great way to uncover our inner thoughts and desires.  Why not make this a time for reflection and self exploration.

Namaste

 

Gratitude, Grace and Celebration

I shared these words from Danna Faulds in yoga class today. Her work feels even more powerful for these times. May it enrich your day today and give you hope for tomorrow.

macro shot photography of tea candles

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

“This is what I have to say to you. Savor the fruits of a lifetime of growth and evolution. I’m not suggesting that you rest on your laurels and declare yourself done. But its time to bask in the sunlight of your soul and let that warmth reach deep inside your bones.

The next stage of your life will rest upon a foundation of gratitude, grace and celebration. Grace simply comes when it comes and isn’t in your control. Gratitude can be nurtured and fertilized by paying attention to the gifts that come your way, saying thank you, internally and externally appreciating your life as often as you remember. Celebration means taking stock of how far you’ve come and letting delight and wonder lead the way.

What you are giving birth to today is bigger than your usual perception of yourself. Its okay that you have no idea what’s coming next. How could you? Just stay open and the universe will do the rest. Gratitude, grace and celebration are the keys.”

~ Danna Faulds taken from “What’s True Here” New Poems and Other Writings