Or perhaps I should say, “To walk a life into being.”
My husband and I spent the 4th in nature. It was the perfect way for us to express a reverence for what feels worthy, real, and based upon love. We brought the dogs along, which meant a perfect day for our canine companions as well.
Sitting on our front porch with a cup of tea dividing us, I scrolled through the “All Trails” app on my phone until I found one that just felt right. A new trail, to us, not too far away. And so, after breakfast was consumed, water bottles filled, and a couple of granola bars tucked in pockets, we set off in a race to the “minivan.”
We no longer have a minivan, but my husband and I love to shout out, “go straight to the minivan,” to incite the dogs and annoy the teenagers. The said teenagers, though, had their own plans for the day. Still, it brought a smile to our faces, and, naturally the dogs’ who could not have been happier. There’s nothing like a good car ride as long as the destination is not the vets.
With windows cranked to snout-level, we were off on our new adventure. The day perfect according to the weather. The high hovering around 80, the breeze just enough to keep most of the bugs away, and the sky as blue as our children’s eyes. We did miss them, but sometimes it’s nice to have that time to recall how you began.
And for us, it began 31 years ago. I’m going to take a slight pause to let that sink in…
We were at the place where our son is temporarily residing, the St. Paul’s School Advanced Studies Program. It was July 4th, 1991, and although I can’t tell you the exact details about the weather, I can recall in full-color the certain sundress I borrowed from a friend to impress a boy I had seen on the baseball field at recreation time. We met over bowls of ice cream, and the rest is our story.
So here we were, 31 years later, celebrating our story in the quiet way we knew best. Out in nature. We parked beside a wooden sign in front of a field of grasses, milkweed, and butterflies and suddenly I found myself falling in love, again. This land, not wholly ours, but from which we are all birthed, enfolding us like a mother who forgives even if she never forgets. And we, walking upon her, opened to love.
And wild wonder.
I was 48, 17, and 4. All ages wrapped up into one body, which is the way wonder finds us. Time slips past meaning and nothing else matters. The body’s bounds tangible, yet free. And the mind, that illusive organ without a physical structure, finds its tune and begins to sing of home. There it nothing better.
Life unties its binds in these moments and pure being erupts into the dream without the nightmare. As we walked that trail through the butterfly fields and into the woods beside a river, I began to dream of Life as it opened before us. The smile, spreading ever-wide upon my face. My body alive with the energy of being. And that vision that enfolded wider with each footstep, imprinted in full-color upon the canvas of my mind.
My journey into the world of podcasting continues with episode 88of Steve Silverman’s “World Gone Good” podcast. I had a wonderful time chatting with Steve about healing, writing, reiki, yoga, and following your joy. Some of the highlights include our Jodie Foster stories, how we healed our stomach aliments through mindfulness, and how we channel our inner truth through writing.
It was a genuine honor and pleasure being on “World Gone Good.” If you have thirty minutes to listen to episode 88, you can find it here. Better yet, start following Steve’s awesome podcast!
On days when the temperature is above frigid, I don’t protest the dogs’ favorite habit stopping to gnaw at every single stick they encounter during our noontime walks. Instead, while they ravage the broken arms of trees to top off their stomaches already filled with lunch, I study the language of trees.
Winter is the season of dormancy, but also of exposure. By mid-February only a few stubborn bunches of withered brown oak leaves hang lifeless from the trees that bore them. The floor of the forest has long been taken over by the element of water, suspending time in its frozen form in a mosaic of matter in various stages of life and death.
The artful practice of mindfulness is everywhere in winter, urging the walker to slow down. To breathe. To be still and observe the state of stasis. I love winter because of its offering to be still. The other three seasons can overwhelm the senses, but not winter. Winter pulls the mind inward and begs it to find the magic always held within.
There are days when I think winter is ugly and dreary. It stretches time here in the northeast in a way that tries patience. Yet, when I look closer, while the dogs feast on their finds, I find the magic of stillness revealing itself. Lately, this magic has taken the form of the language of the trees.
In truth, it is not the language of the trees itself that I read, but the story of the insect life that feasts upon them. I am in awe of the patterns. When I stop to read their art, I marvel at how each one is unique. It is a language of pictographic script that only the insect scribe understands, in truth, but it doesn’t stop the wondering mind from making an attempt.
I just finished listening to part of a YouTube astrology post that a blogging friend of mine shared. The astrologer triggered had me at the word “trigger.” To say these are “triggering times” for many of us is probably an understatement. We don’t, in fact, need an astrologer to tell us that volatility and instability surround us and stir the sense of unease within us, but it’s helpful to know how we react to what triggers us. It’s helpful to discover the cause and the effect.
Triggering events are what spurs life into being. If you recall yesterday’s post where I discussed the five elements and their corresponding seasons that cycle through our lives, you might bring life’s triggers into the perspective of the natural patterns of Life. And these need not be negative. We need not view them from the lens of judgement. The union of yin and yang energy that brings forth life is often pleasurable, just as a “triggering” song might inspire us to dance or sing with joy.
The key lies in the response. What do we do with what we are given? How do we learn? How do we take action that yields new growth, which brings us closer to the state of being that resides in joy?
Often, when we are triggered by something that we perceive as “negative,” we dive into defense-mode. We externalize our feelings to guard and protect our sense of security. It can take tremendous vulnerability to let go our guards and dive inside instead of outside of ourselves. We forget that herein lies the gift. When we go within we find the seat of our strength and our inner power, because that ever-wise inner-self calls us home to who we truly are.
I have experienced many triggering events in my life. Some days I experience several over the course of just a few hours. I probably don’t need to tell you how exhausting that can be. We are energy, and the more we are pushed to expend our energy and then turn that push into defense-mode, the more exhausted we become.
These triggers remind me of the guards I still station around my joy. They are irrational in the moment, but rational when I dive into the body’s wounded stories. What a disservice, though, it is to myself and others to perpetuate these myths and to allow them to wreak havoc on my interconnected mind/body/spirit.
There are times where it doesn’t take much to spur the creative action of grown. Years ago, I decided to get my palms read. I was a vendor at a local metaphysical fair and during one of the audience lulls I went over to a booth that had caught my eye. I’d say about 50% of what I was given during the reading rang true, the other 50%, well some of it triggered within me with the feeling of untruth.
As the palm reader was studying one of the lines on my hands, she declared with absolute assertion that I could not be a writer because I lacked the line for creativity. This statement triggered a whole series of wounds inside of me before it spurred me into growth. It triggered my sense of self-doubt and the idea that I would never be good enough to do what my heart knew to be truth since the moment of earliest memory. It temporarily unraveled my sense of identity and had the potential, if I had let it, to unravel my dream. I pushed aside the fact that the reader had also got a lot of other things wrong, like that I really didn’t listen to, nor like in the least bit, heavy metal music. Instead, I immersed myself in the one statement that spoke to my wounds.
And for those of you who follow my writing, you know that I haven’t stopped. We can feed our energy bodies or we can deplete them with the stuff of life that triggers us. Many of you may also know that when I was in my early thirties I suffered from debilitating IBS. For two years I allowed my energy body to suffer because of its untended wounds. Then, on Mother’s Day of 2008 I awoke from a hellish night of my body’s agonies and decided that this trigger I was experiencing was not going to defeat me. I was going to defeat it. Or, let me put it more kindly, I was going to grow from it and heal it. For the sake of my children first, and my own wellbeing (still always second, I’m still learning), I dove inside and released what needed to be freed. It was the same day I gave myself permission to write. I had 30+ years of words buried inside of me, it was no wonder my body was ready to explode. Thus, you can perhaps image how triggering it was to, years later, hear that palm reader tell me I was not, in fact, a writer.
I tend to be one of those people who always looks for the underside of the story of an event. I like to dig into the “why” to discover a deeper meaning, and how it might relate to the bigger picture of my life, or life in general. It helps me make sense of a world that would otherwise seem chaotic and randomly unjust. I don’t always like doing it, but it’s essential for my own wellbeing.
I am currently reading a book I don’t like. It’s a sequel to another book I didn’t like. The author, Octavia Butler, was a fine writer, but her apocalyptic choice of genre is triggering for me. I suspect that was a large part of why she wrote the books she did. In these particular books, the nightmaric world she created for the future illustrates a future out of control due to all the triggering events that lead up to its dystopian creation. Climate change, greed, the lust for power…it hits hard with a possible reality that is difficult to stomach. Yet, I keep reading it. It is triggering my shadow-self, that part of me that I don’t always like to visit, and that part of humanity that Butler is asking us to see for all its potential horrors.
There’s a section of the population, including the lead character of the books, that Butler calls “sharers.” It is another word for empath, but in the case of Butler’s stories, these empaths were created from a drug their mothers took. The stark reality, though, is that we are all empaths. Some of us hide it better than others. Some of us build shields to protect what we don’t like to feel. Butler’s books are uncomfortably close to our global reality, and because they are so dystopian, they stir more despair than hope through their plots. Yet we can still use them as triggers for change. We can dive deep, deep into the shadowland of the individual and the shared self to find out the root cause of our actions or inactions and allow the trigger to inspire positive growth.
It is always a choice. Life, in each moment, unfolds a myriad of options at our feet, asking us which way we would like to walk. We can, quite literally, in each moment choose the path of darkness or light. Love or hate. Peace or turmoil. Wellbeing or disease. The choice is always there.
I was going to devote today to writing. My WIP, that is. I’ve written a few lines, and changed the structure and wording of others, yet my mind is drifting elsewhere. Instead of staying inside my fantasy world, my thoughts are sneaking back to the world surrounding me. The here and now, you might call it.
Yesterday I was going to write about the booming business of “Mindfulness” and found someone else had. I skimmed the heading of the article and thought maybe I’ll save it for another day. Except I can’t stop thinking about how easily we fall prey to false hopes and beliefs, and the magical cures that are promised by another looking to reap profits from our fears. Did you know you can get a master’s degree in Mindfulness? There’s billions of dollars held within the simple concept of staying present in the moment, wholly open to the truth that is you.
It seems we have so far removed ourselves from this truth, that we are, in essence gasping in each breath, cut off from the vital life-force that feeds us. It’s a suffocating existence. I’ve got a fridge filled with organic celery. Not because I’m planning to juice it each morning, but because, I suspect many of those who jumped on this would-be-cure-all promised by some medium-not-trained-in-medicine have moved onto the latest best thing that will magically cure all that ails them. And, so, my Misfits boxes have been filled with this cast-off craze and I find myself searching for new recipes…
Not that I haven’t fallen prey to these promises either. I have. Until I start to question, pause, and return to the voice of truth within. Yesterday, I got a vaccine because Hep A is running rampant and I know this simple action can help prevent my getting it. I don’t regret my decision. I consider myself fairly learned in the world of science. I have a degree in biology, and studies and work experience in the sciences beyond undergraduate. I tend to ask questions when I don’t understand something and look for reputable resources premised upon facts and not biases.
The very word vaccine, though, has become akin to a swear word in some circles, or even worse. It’s viewed as a device filled with a deadly poison created by the hands of the devil’s own subjects. Pharmaceutical manufacturers. Yet, millions are paid for alternatives. Millions reaped by eager hands promising to cure and save those that shun any and all conventional medicine.
There exists corruption at both ends of the spectrum. Yet, there is often too little question of the source of our fears. Anger and accusations fill the pages of social media and certain news channels. It’s become cool to point fingers, and lauded to raise one’s voice in rage.
Last night, I watched part of the democratic debates out of Iowa and kept asking myself who would stand the best chance against our current leader. In this day and age, it seems, timidity is intolerable, but so is truth. Force and anger are awarded the titles of victor. It’s a troubling reality, and I know this is not a happy post. I have promised on this blog, with its title, to search for the light inside each story.
The thing is, though, the light is you. Each of you. And, all of us. It’s not what someone else tells us we should be. It’s not the fear that makes us react with aggression and anger. It’s not the temptation to mistrust and doubt who we are. It’s the pure, simple voice of compassionate reason that is truth. It’s not the ideological belief that there is an “us” v. “them” or an “I” v. “you.” It’s the heart-centered knowing that in our essence we are all one. And that in this oneness we can temper the impulse towards greed. We can keep in-check our anger and accusations knowing that fear is our guide to love. We can take a deep breath and reside “mindfully” in the present moment and look around us with our own fresh eyes and say, “Maybe what I once thought is not true. Maybe this judgement I have held onto is not mine to hold. Maybe the answers I seek are best walked through the path of the heart. And maybe, just maybe, I can find words of love instead of hate when I react to myself and the world around me.”
It kept me up three nights ago. My mind became busy and I got to thinking about mindfulness. I’m sure you’ve all heard the term by now. Mindfulness. “Paying attention to the present moment.” “Living fully in the present moment with awareness.” Sometimes “without judgement” is added. While searching the Internet, I came across this video on the Greater Good Magazine website featuring Jon Kabat-Zinn defining mindfulness in his words.
In the video, Kabat-Zinn talks about living the “story of me” without the realization that there is, in actuality, “no me.” Although I am not a follower of Kabat-Zinn, or any of the many mindfulness gurus out there today, I like what he has to say in this brief video. It’s not a new revelation, in fact it’s very old. His words echo the sages of long ago who carried forth the wisdom that there is, in essence, no “me.”
Three nights ago, I let this mind that inhabits “me” process the concept of mindfulness in terms of “my” perception of the current state of the world. Not so concerned with the “me,” but the “we,” my mind thought about the mindless actions that permeate our collective existence. In particular, I was thinking about the consequences that result from a mindless existence, or, rather, an existence so focused on the “me” of the ego that all else is neglected. The president of the United States is the archetype of this type of existence. The mindless ego unchecked by self awareness.
Last night, I had an hour in the car with my fourteen-year-old son, who initiated a conversation that, in essence, centered around mindfulness. He, like me, is deeply troubled by the world we live in and the mindless movement we have spiraled into, despite the current attempts to make “mindfulness” the “in thing.”
What’s the purpose of mindfulness if we can’t get passed the concept of the self as all important?
Since my eye-opening experience attempting to teach mindfulness to Montessori school teachers, and later yoga to their equally unmindful students, I’ve given a lot of thought to what “I” think mindfulness truly is. Simply stated, a mindful existence includes the realization that there are consequences to our actions, words and thoughts. The law of cause and effect is nothing new, but it’s been essentially forgotten in favor of our “me” obsessed world.
Am “I” breathing properly? Am “I” paying attention to the bird outside my window? Am “I” living in the present moment with full awareness?
This is a start, but not an end. This “I” living in the present moment must, eventually become aware of the “I” that is trying to live. Who am I? The I must eventually ask to fully understand itself. What am I doing? What am I thinking? What are the consequences to these thoughts and actions? How do I effect not only myself, but the world around me?
Until, eventually, the I realizes that there is no I, but a vast, limitless “we.”
The day before my sleepless night, I had been in a waiting room eavesdropping in on a conversation that was occurring at the front desk between two educators. When I over-heard one of them mention teaching in the town I live in, comparing the students to inner-city kids, my interest was piqued.
What I heard, in essence, was the frustration of an educator trying to teach in a classroom without consequences filled with kids living in the myopic world of “me.” And, I thought, it’s not only me, before I thought, how pervasive this disease of “me” really has become.
When I attempted to teach yoga to the Montessori children who exhibited rudely defiant behavior, I inquired about whether there was anything I could do to thwart their disrespect. What I discovered as that we are living in a time when, despite our obsession with “mindfulness,” there are few, if any, consequences to our mindless actions. How can we teach mindfulness behavior if we don’t teach the law of cause and effect?
When trying to discover the root of a group’s behavior, we must always look to the leader. It’s rather obvious that the leader of our “free” nation is living the antithesis of a truly mindful life. Instead, he exhibits all the rude, self-centered, and dangerous behavior of the ego out of control.
While I was not sleeping the other night, I thought about how the majority of the teachers at the conference I was invited to present at where not interested in, and in fact seemed to harbor a severe aversion to, engaging in self-awareness exercises. I realized that there really was no point in me trying to return to teach yoga to their students. Before yoga asana, must come a deep awareness of mindfulness and the laws of cause and effect.
I’ll admit, it’s not a “fun” process to really and truly examine the self and the self as a part of the whole, but it can be a deeply rewarding and enriching process. When one realizes that the self is simply a conglomeration of experiences and reactions to those experiences, folded into a cellular body, a process of detachment and non-judgement can result that leads to fascinating and enlightening discoveries about not only the “self,” but the self as a part of the whole.
The “I” easily forgets the “we,” as exhibited by the pervasive self-obsessed behavior that predominates our world at this time in history. We’re living a time that is artificially sped up and controlled by the false screen of the outer. With the tap of a screen a photo is taken of the “self” and then altered by another tap or two, to be artificially enhanced so that the “self” can appear more outwardly attractive than the “self” really is. Then the self awaits, mere seconds it can take, for the “likes” of the self to pile up. With a few short taps, the self’s words can be tweeted around the world and read by millions of followers. What a heady power trip that can be! Making the “self” feel all-important.
Then there is the flip side of this. The self that arrives at the self-realization that his or her individual self is not good enough. Will never be pretty enough, when compared to the false images of beauty held in front of it, or thin enough, successful enough, etc. And, so the self decides that its life is not worth living.
There is a desperate need in my own self to try, in whatever way my self can, to bring true mindfulness back to a world that appears to me so desperately in need of it. Behind the ego’s need for self dominance is fear. Fear of the self’s discovery of its own imperfections, and the often even greater fear that those imperfections will be seen by others. In the striving for the perfect self, the self fails to realize that perfection of the self will never, and can never be achieved, because the perfect “self” is, in actuality, the no-self.
When we realize we are beautifully imperfect, here to learn and to grow ever closer to love until the self becomes only love, life becomes filled with purpose and infused with the beautiful existence that is Life. We realize that each piece of life, our life, in fact, is a part of an intricate whole. No more than, or less than another, but unique in its conglomeration of parts and experiences. Our essence, in fact, realized, as equally important as our neighbor’s whether that neighbor is a fellow human, an animal, insect, stone, or plant. When a stone is removed from the earth, a hole remains. We are each, individually, part of a vast and intricate web of life beyond the comprehension of our individual minds. Each of us with a role to play, a life to live, that is infinitely more enriching for the self, and the whole, when lived mindfully with an awareness of cause and effect.
The little girl peered up at me with teddy bear eyes as she asked her question. She was just a few years older than my daughter was when see used to boldly inquire, “Who are you?” while gazing her deep blue eyes into mine.
The question from the little girl this morning made me smile. Wide and free. “I’m the yoga teacher,” I told her.
“Am I taking yoga? I hope I am.”
“I want to take yoga,” the boy beside her chimed in.
“What’s your name?” Another child joined in the conversation.
I resisted the impulse to gather the group of preschoolers ready to go outside for their recess, turn on some Kira Willey, and lead their eager bodies in an impromptu yoga class. Their faces were irresistibly sunny as though they had no idea it was raining just outside the windows. Instead, I gathered the registration forms together out of the envelope I had hung on the bulletin board just last week, and smiled my way home.
It was my third errand of the morning. Before collecting the registration forms from the two Montessori schools, I had dropped off a bag at the high school. A post-it labeled it for the writing teacher, but it was for one of her students. A girl very different from those three exuberant young children in the preschool classroom. What a difference a dozen years can make in a life.
She had never said a word, not even in introduction. Perhaps the teacher had overlooked her on purpose because she was shy. But I had seen the shrug of her shoulders and the head bowed a little further towards the table. The head that never looked up in participation for the hour-and-half I was there.
“I see you,” I wanted to whisper in her ear. Not in the tone of a creepy stalker, but with the words of understanding. “I’ve sat in that seat too. Many a time,” I wanted to tell her, but didn’t.
I didn’t because it was not my classroom, and I did not know her story. Sensitive to the fragility of the teenage mind, I kept quiet, like her. But I couldn’t forget about her. Although she was the only one in the classroom that never said a word, to me she was just as important the eager participants who sat around her. Even though she looked like a forgotten island. Or, an island that wanted to be forgotten.
She reminded me of me, but also someone who wasn’t me. I may never know her story. Why she chooses to wrap into herself. But, I ache for what she has lost, already. Perhaps she was once like that little girl with the happy brown eyes who thought nothing of asking a stranger who she was. I’d like to think so, but this also makes me sad.
I don’t know if she’ll read the book I offered her in return for not acknowledging her presence, and for not knowing how to bridge her island for fear of further harm. She may not read even the first word, and that’s okay. I hope she reads the card, though. I think she will. I hope she realizes that someone saw her when she thought she wasn’t seen. Not by the eyes of judgement, but the eyes of understanding. And, I hope that one day she’ll realize she has a beautiful light inside of her that is waiting to be seen.
It was a rather dreary Friday afternoon in mid-March. Spring had arrived days before by the date on the calendar, but New Hampshire doesn’t follow the rules of the seasons. Patches of old snow still piled in heaps, even in the city, and a cold rain was falling from an ashen sky.
When I arrived at my destination, I found a tired building. The gymnasium, where the conference was being held, was equally dreary as the outdoors. Perhaps more so. The floor, scuffed and dusty, looked as though it hadn’t felt the threads of a mop in months. Films of unswept debris lined its edges and I hesitated before I released the weight of my heavy bag and winter coat. I didn’t belong here.
I felt it immediately. I was conspicuously out of place. The over-dressed outsider with a bag filled with treasures that I would soon discover were only treasured by me. I had, it seemed, set out on this day to play the role of The Fool. My face lifted to an unseen sun as I skipped fumbled to find a place in the circle I had asked approximately 45 Montessori school teachers to create.
A fool-hearty mistake, it would seem, as I had severed their zone of comfort before I had even begun. We don’t always like to feel open and exposed. Equal, you might say, to one another. The teacher is used to leading. Standing above and before the pupil. I had created a circle on purpose. I didn’t want an end or a beginning. I didn’t want to break the illusion of unity. I didn’t want to appear as their leader for the afternoon, but their equal.
They had, though, expected to be taught. Lectured by me as I stood on a podium before their lines of chairs. Here they might hid in their expected roles, as I donned the mask of teacher. Instead, I continued to play the role of The Fool, determined to open before this tired group now circled around me, my bag of treasures.
The carefully typed words started navigating in a clockwise rotation, and I watched as the turquoise and white organza wrapped crystals, tea, and chocolate offerings were reluctantly selected from the basket that held them. What care I had taken, I thought, to gather and wrap these unwanted gifts.
What a fool I had been to think they might be eagerly received.
I have learned, for the most part, to let go of expectations. What we may dream up in our mind as a wondrous play of events rarely plays out in reality the same way as our imaginings. Instead, we seem to get what we need, more than what we want, in that moment of arrival.
I had thought, or rather hoped, that my approach to talking about mindfulness might be eagerly received, or at least curiously welcomed by a group of professionals who were tasked with the role of instructing young developing minds. What I found instead was a room mostly filled (there were the few semi-eager minds) with tired minds inside equally tired bodies who just wanted to go home and call it a full day.
It’s likely whatever I had chosen to offer them that afternoon would have been tepidly, at best received. Unless it had been a check for a million dollars, for the air in the room held the feel of being over-tired and under-paid, as teachers often are.
Yet, I had committed to being there for two hours to talk about Mindfulness with the intention that my audience might discover tools to use in their own lives and to incorporate into their classrooms with the young minds they were tasked with nurturing. The mindful journey, though, appeared to be mostly my own.
As I stepped out of the circle and into its center to fully don that role of The Fool and demonstrate Donna Eden’s Daily Energy Routine, I felt the full glare of the invisible sun shining on me. In the shadows of the circle, figures elbowed each other and snickered. Was I in eighth grade? It sure felt a lot like I was. The same adolescent insecurity was being mirrored back to me.
Look at me, playing the role of the fool. Look how vulnerable I am being. I may appear different from you, but I am just like you. I know your number. I’ve walked in your shoes. That pain you are trying to mask with mockery, was once mine too.
We cannot expect those who most resist the new to gaze in wonder or in awe through the door we try to open for them. We cannot expect them to walk through it and see what is on the other side. We must all become The Fool in our own time, stepping off the well-worn path and out to the cliff of the unknown. We might show them the cliff, but we should not push them off.
How wrong I had been to think a group of Montessori teachers might find what I had to offer engaging or enticing. Whereas my yoga students will most often eagerly embrace the new and yet to be discovered, not all of them do. I had walked on that afternoon into a room mostly filled with people who had no intention of learning something new or different that day. Their intention, instead, appeared to be to get through the Friday of required workshop hours as quickly and effortlessly as possible so that they could begin their weekend. Fair enough. That’s okay. I can accept that. There were the few. The one or two, who lingered after to get another glimpse through the strange window I had tried to open. Offering their own stories of emotions trapped in their bodies, and techniques they had tried to feel better and live more mindfully in this challenging life we are all tasked to live.
I’m okay with going home having realized I perhaps learned more that day than they had. There is always a lesson for us when we choose to learn what it has to offer. If I want to try to bridge the road of comfort and help others find a new way that may be more mindful than the one they have walked longed walked with rote footsteps, I will need to explore some new paths of my own. I certainly have my work cut out for me. We all do. These are not easy times. What I saw in that room was not up-lifting. Bodies and minds disconnected and filled with pain and fear. I saw Trump’s America in a place I had least expected it and it left me a bit jarred and unsettled.
After the experience at Castlerigg, I needed some time to process, accept, and surrender as best I could to what was. We had planned for a laid-back morning for my last day in Cumbria, and after I awoke I asked if I could take Tess for a walk. I should probably clarify that. Tess is not a dog you actually have to walk. She’s one of those rare gems that walks herself, and you, without the trouble of a leash to bind you together. I didn’t have to worry about finding my way, getting lost, or losing sight of my companion. Tess not only leads the way, she stops to wait for you and makes sure you know where you’re going. It was quite the treat for me, as I am used to walking two over-zealous dogs (on leashes) who could care less if I want to go where they want to go, which is often in a completely different direction from each other, and me.
Anyway, back to my walk with Tess. It was another glorious morning. Filled with sunshine and just the wisps of clouds to compliment the blue, blue sky. And as we set out, down the old canal path beside Bernie & Steve’s home, I began to allow the beauty of the day to sink into by body, as well as the many unexpected gifts the weekend had offered.
The paths that I had traveled these last few days had been filled with the warmth of the sun and of friendship. There was the ever-present reminder, albeit sometimes difficult to accept, that I do not walk this path in life alone. Although Castlerigg was not appreciated in the way I had intended for myself, nor revered in the way I might like to see other visitors revere it, it had still been appreciated for its outer beauty on a beautiful day. Long Meg and Little Meg had offered to me a more intimate visit in contrast, reminding me that the magic is always there, even though it may sometimes go into hiding.
Another day was unfolding before me. A quiet day filled with the grace of the present moment, if I chose to reside in it. Tess and I passed only two other travelers during out walk, and our passing was uneventful and unobtrusive. It was easy to allow peace to settle in and take the place of heartbreak as I walked in the beautiful land of Cumbria.
I could have walked for miles, and so could Tess, as she reluctantly turned around after we got to our third “bridge to nowhere” to lead the way back home. We, or rather I, had toast and Bernie’s prize-winning marmalade waiting for us. And, boy did it taste good. Rather like you might expect a drop of sunshine to taste, if one could taste sunshine.
The four of us, Tess, Bernie, Steve, and I, spent the afternoon at the seaside, enjoying the beauty of the day and the presence of good company. Following tea beside the water, Tess and Steve played frisbee on the grass, I took photographs and breathed in the sea air. Along the path of my feet, white feathers scattered the grass. I had been well taken care of by my wonderful hosts and Mother Nature during the weekend, and perhaps that’s just what I needed most.
But the journey was not yet other. I had more time adventures awaiting me in London and a magical day with Sue and Ani in the land of dragons and “castles.”
To be continued…
To read the previous posts in this series about my recent visit to England, please follow the links below:
It was rather surreal, but not wholly surprising. I believe the greater consciousness that surrounds us is constantly communicating with us, whether we heed it or not. I’ve learned to pay attention, much of the time, and when I do I often find myself in awe at how life is a beautiful orchestration of circumstances from which we can learn and hopefully grow.
So, there I was yesterday morning, sitting in the dentist’s chair. A circumstance dreaded by many, myself included. But this one even more so, since I was about to have surgery. It’s not so much the discomfort that I dreaded, but the unexpected. I rather like being in control over my body and faculties. Always have been. I’ve never taken an illegal substance, and after I consumed my first alcoholic beverage at the legal age of 21, I made a vow never to get drunk enough to lose control over my faculties.
The narcotics were offered in the pre-op visit. I declined. I’m a yogi, right? I’d be fine. I had my rings of crystal beads encircling my wrists and a large tear-drop of turquoise hanging from my neck. And, I’d had a morning yoga class before hand. I was ready. Or as ready as I chose to be.
The shaking started when I sat in the chair. As I waited, I thought about how nice it would be to have the warm wrap of a blanket. As if reading my mind, but more likely reading the jitter of my crossed legs and clenched hands, the surgeon kindly asked, “Would you like a blanket. We keep it cool in here,” before she reached for her needle of Novocain and began the process of pricking my gum line 1,000 times, then pausing before she declared, “The roof of the mouth is the icky one, are you ready?” Another 1,000 jams of the needle and I was as numb as could be. In the face, that is. Now the shake was worse than ever.
I wasn’t sure I was going to make it to the bathroom. But waiting another hour to pee was just not an option. I had consumed a full cup of tea — lavender laced chamomile — to calm, the nerves before my visit.
“It’s the epinephrine,” the assistant declared as she escorted me the the lavatory. I guess 2,000 shots in the mouth has that effect on some of us.
Yet, somehow I knew the worse was over, which was reiterated by the surgeon as I wrapped her offer of fleece around my body and began to settle into my fate. For the next 45 minutes, I entered the role of passive observer. My life, or rather mouth, in the hands of the surgeon and her assistant.
“I hope you don’t mind my singing,” the one with the binocular oculars declared as she readied her scalpel. “My patients on pain-killers seem to think it’s great, but the others have to endure it.” Who knew I would also think it was great, alongside Michael Jackson crooning from the beyond. Turns out, when the surgeon wasn’t singing, she was talking. And, instead of thinking too much about my mouth being cut apart, I listened.
Without response, because, my mouth was at her constant mercy. It’s rather interesting to be the passive observer and have no option of contributing. It reminds one of how strong the impulse to interject can be.
So I listened while she cut a flap of skin off the roof of my mouth, “You’re one of my thin skinners, but no worries, I got a beautiful piece,” then tried not to look at the flap hanging from her hand while she hummed Madonna’s “Lucky Star.”
“Breathe. Take a deep breath, you’re doing great sweetie.” Someone passing by the window, if it had been open, might have assumed I was in labor. I myself was beginning to wonder if I was in yoga class. I’m constantly reminding my own students to breathe.
“When I was Tufts,” she told her assistant, “I took a class in mindfulness because I had already finished all the credits I needed to graduate but still had a semester to finish. It was one of the best classes I ever took. I think every kid should take a mindfulness class. It was so much more useful than learning about Chaucer’s writing style, which I don’t remember and will never use for anything.”
And there it was, for a good ten minutes or so the two of them carried on a conversation on the benefits of mindfulness, while I listened and reaped my own benefits. “Breathe, sweetie. You’re doing great.” My own mouth gapping wide, with no capacity to form words, while my mind silently agreed. Yes! Yes! I’m so glad you feel the same way!
“You did great,” the surgeon declared as she jammed silly putty bandaids to the roof of my mouth and my lower gum line.
“Thank you,” I slurred through the Novocain. And I meant it. There was a lot more I wanted to say, but because of the circumstances a heartfelt “thank you” would have to suffice.