Busy bee today, so just a quick check in to say hello and goodnight. xx
“To all, to each, a fair good night. and pleasing dreams, and slumbers light.” ~Sir Walter Scott
Busy bee today, so just a quick check in to say hello and goodnight. xx
“To all, to each, a fair good night. and pleasing dreams, and slumbers light.” ~Sir Walter Scott
What I love most about meditating(besides everything) is how things you experience on the cushion begin to seep into your everyday activities off of it. All my tasks and hobbies and habits start to speak loud and clear truths about me and who I truly am. I begin to find connections between simple actions and lessons on how to approach life.
This morning I woke up early to go skateboarding. Yeah that’s right, I’m a little obsessed. I’d love to tell you that I get my early start because its so beautiful at that time of day, but let’s be honest…. it’s really because there’s less people to embarrass myself in front of at that hour. I’m getting steadier and better each day, but I still have a moment or two when my arms flail about and I come crashing down… and when that happens, it’s not without a fair amount of noise from my big ass mouth…. hence, embarrassing.
This past week, I have made a bit of an eerie, if not comical, discovery. Everywhere I go, I see this lady. Not just any lady. A HULA HOOPING one. Like, real deal hula hooping. The weird part is that I will be somewhere, just minding my own business, and the crowd will part…. and there she is. Hula Hooping away. Totally surrounded by people and yet absolutely in her own world. She dances as she does it, it’s actually kind of pretty to watch. But it’s just so bizarre…. is she following me? Is she literally dancing ALL day?? EVERYWHERE?? Today, I saw her this morning while skating, and this afternoon she was on the beach when I walked the dogs. I tried to take video of her but every time I lifted up my camera she danced her way around to face me. Like she KNEW. It reminds me of something out of a movie. You know, where there’s a character with a knowing smile who slips into the shadows before we can ever get a good look at them, always lurking somewhere near the main character. Usually we think they’re a bad guy but in the end they were some kind of guardian with an invaluable piece of information pertinent to the hero’s survival.
There’s that overactive imagination again.
As I passed her this morning on my ride(is that what you call it when you’re skateboarding? I’m still not entirely hip to the lingo) I was thinking about how odd it is to take up something new at this point in my life. I mean, it’s interesting to do something that is mostly taken up by people when they are kids. Something that requires skill and a fair amount of practice. I feel really proud of myself because I’ve always wanted to do it… and there is considerable satisfaction in crossing an item off my “want to do” list. As I went along today, I made a mental list of the areas in which skateboarding is teaching me more about my life.
1. Cracks and bumps are part of the ride. Some you see ahead of time and can avoid. Some sneak up on you and down ya go. And sometimes, you see one and go over it any way, just to prove to yourself that you can. Those ones can go either way….. but at least you go into it knowing that.
2. You have to become one with the board. If you let it dictate where your gonna go…. forget about getting anywhere you want to be. Yet, try to control it and sooner or later you will end up on your ass. You just gotta forget that there’s a you and there’s a board…. as soon as it just becomes an extension of your body it’s quite a ride
3. Your intention is key. When I’m riding along enjoying myself, focused in the moment, and connected to my core it’s all smooth. As soon as I get distracted by something on the side(mmmmmm ice cream cart…..oooooh hot guys, hot guys) I am flat on my back and feeling dumb dumb dumb.
4. You gotta have faith and believe in yourself!!! Why is it that on flat, straight stretches I am go go go!! fast and furious, wind whipping through my hair! And then the road gets the teeniest bit curvy and I’m suddenly timid. It’s still just pavement! The road underneath me is the same! The view just changed, that’s all… it appears to be more diffiicult but in reality, in each moment, it’s the same.
5. Last but not least. There’s always point where it’s time to head home. Adventure is great, life affirming and good for you. But when you sense that you’re growing weary and not as sharp on your feet, it’s time to go home. Return to the place that grounds and centers you. Rest up, treat yourself to a good meal and a nap. There are many journeys to come, and you’re no good to anyone if you don’t take care of yourself.
I know there are a lot of people out there who get weirded out by meditation. They think it’s “new agey” and self indulgent. What’s wrong with that? I say, show me something else that completely embraces every aspect of this insane life of ours. Find me one thing where by it’s very practice your heart will be opened and you will find not only the beauty in yourself, but the beauty in all things(mom, I know you are going to say “prayer” and my response to that is; meditation is a form of prayer). Tell me of one other discipline that will teach you to find compassion for every single entity on this earth. To come to a place of such deep understanding that even the darkest of evils will not sway your belief that everything is connected, that we are in this together, that we all have something to teach to one another.
I think the lady with the hula hoop has something to teach me. I’m pretty sure it has something to do with not caring what people think if I flail my arms and make weird noises. ok, and possibly something a little deeper than that…. I guess we’ll just have to wait until the end of the movie to see, won’t we? xxB
Thought I would bring you a little taste of what I considered a perfect day. The video is my first attempt and I didn’t think about doing it until this afternoon, so next time I will get more pics throughout the day and also have a better understanding of the mind trap that is iMovie.
It’s amazing the difference a day can make. Yesterday, sit numero 25. Challenging. Frustrating. Literally gritting my teeth to get through it. It was a lot like my day. It’s not that it was such a terrible one. I just didn’t feel right in my skin… I drifted from each appointment and errand in a little bit of a haze. I spent a lot of time nitpicking at thoughts of the past, and then seemed surprised when the remnants bled through to hinder my now. I was exhausted by 7pm, and debated if I should just cut my losses and crawl into bed, pull the covers over my head. I did end up turning in early, but only after I meditated and fell into a fitful sleep.
Today. Sit number 26. Woke up to a beeeeeeeaUtiful day. Walked downstairs, plunked my hiney on my cushion straight away. Atta girl. Made a great breakfast. Ran some errands. Listened to great music. Skated for TWO WHOLE hours on the boardwalk with a certain co-star of mine who is responsible for planting the seed of taking up skateboarding in the first place. Walked my pooches on the beach and witnessed an incredible sunset. Arrived home refreshed and relaxed.
My sister Anya(365Runs) has always had a bit of a, ummmm how to put this nicely, fiercely independent specificity when it comes to how she likes things. To be fair, she was the youngest of three, and the two of us ahead of her, in addition to my lovely mother, had a bit of a penchant for being tardy to almost everything. In addition to her disdain for being late, my sister also hated wrinkled or dirty clothes,(my brother and I would happily live in the same thing weeks, possibly months at a time) bad table manners(just ask the under 10 set that she routinely reprimanded for talking with their mouths full) and anyone who dared to question her authority when it came to horses, horses, and…. oh yeah, horses. So it makes sense that at the tender age of 5, when she awoke one morning to find that her beloved school uniform cardigan had not been washed the previous night as requested; she would be a little bit peeved. Dressed in one of MY old school sweaters(oh the horror) she made sure to take every bit of her ire out on my mom as she drove her to school. They pulled up, and as Anya was getting out of the car my mom turned to her and said “It can either be a good day, or a bad day, it’s your choice.” At the end of the day, my sister came running out to the car, pigtails flying, tooth eating grin, wrapped her arms around my mother’s neck and stated “Mommy, I choosed it to be a good day, and it WAS”.
I can’t tell you how many times members of my family have relayed this story. It’s cute and funny, but also true. I think sometimes we genuinely forget how much power we have over whether something is a positive or a negative. I read something today about turning things around in your favor. Instead of believing that the world is conspiring against you, choose to believe that all signs point to yes, everyone’s got your back, and that the world is in fact conspiring for you to succeed. The only difference between the two is how you choose to look at it.
Today was a perfect day. Did everything I ever dreamed of happen? No. Were there parts of it that sucked and moments where I thought about things that make me unhappy. Yeah. But, starting with my morning sit, I allowed myself to have power over where the day would go… and I CHOOSED it to be a good one.
What’s in a day? Whatever you want. The choice is yours my friends. xxB
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
~from Max Ehrmann’s “Desiderata”
For those of you unfamiliar, this is Luna, my five year old boston terrier. I love this picture. If there were a thought bubble foaming out of that stubborn little snout it would say “Here I am. Deal with it.” I am often impressed with the abilities of those who are able to sit still in a given moment and genuinely be at peace with where they are, even if the present circumstances are less than desired. A dear friend of mine can often be heard muttering under his breath, “I am exactly where I am supposed to be at this very moment.”(It’s more or less his mantra, and sometimes I wonder if maybe he would be a little more zen if he’d stop saying it long enough to actually be in the moment).
Why is it that we fight so hard against what just is?? In my sit this evening I really wanted to drop in deeper. I wanted to go to that place that I sometimes get to while meditating where I just totally bliss out. It wasn’t to be, and now I wonder if it wasn’t me wishing so much for that specific experience that drove it away from existing in the first place. Why do we have such a hard time accepting what is in the here and now? How often do you find yourself thinking that you thought you would be so much farther along in your life at this point? Or that you thought you would have A and B before reaching C? Or that if you plot and plan this way and that, you can make something you really want happen. Books and movies like “The Secret” only make matters worse by telling us that we need to focus with all our might on the things that we want and they will indeed be realized. What’s that old saying about a watched pot never boiling?? yeah, exactly.
One of my teachers says that you can’t climb the mountain by focusing on the top. You’ve got to put one foot in front of the other, one step at a time. You have to take the view in at every stage of the climb so that when you do get to the top, you arrive with all the knowledge you gathered from the ground up. Every part of the journey is with you in your head and in your heart. There is no other way.
Over the course of the past year, as I dealt with my life changing in ways that I was not ready to accept, I found myself saying over and over, “this wasn’t how it was supposed to be”. Over and over. It was the main thing that I had the most trouble wrapping my head around. And then one day, it hit me…..OH. I guess this is exactly how it was supposed to be. BECAUSE IT IS.
I used to hate the saying, “it is what is is.” And now I can’t think of anything else to say but that. It’s true. IT. IS. WHAT. IT. IS. Quit making it worse for yourself and accept it. When you learn to accept what is, you will truly begin to live your life, this I promise you. And the irony of all ironies is that when you begin to live your life in this way, everything that you need will slowly fall into place.
You are exactly where you are supposed to be in this very moment. My friend may be a tad overzealous with his commitment to this statement, but he’s got the right idea. YOU ARE. Luna says “Accept it and deal with it.
Amen sister. xx
An incredibly busy and productive day….Sit #23. So tired got me some droopy eyes…. must sleep….fingers can’t type…. Sorry peeps, will make it up to you tomorrow… zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz xx
I’m starting to believe that our purpose in life is to get the snot kicked out of us in every way possible and then continue to find new ways to surprise ourselves when we come out on the other end right side up(and if we’re lucky and/or wise, the better for it). My Mother has a quote that she absolutely loves and attempts to paraphrase at least every other day:
“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming WOW!!! What a Ride!”
(fyi mom, you were pretty close about 90% of the time)
I unfortunately must keep tonight’s post short and sweet. I’ve procrastinated all day and am now attempting to cram 10 things into the last hour before sleep….. ah but what else is new. It was an amazing day and I enjoyed every bloody second of it. Tonight’s sit was a thoughtful one, and I don’t mean that it was polite and kind. I just couldn’t stop thinking about so many different things. Sometimes that happens, and you just have to see if for what it is and of course, let it be. And as I let go, I drifted away on a thought about our dear hearts, and how so many of you have touched mine. I really am blown away by how much can happen to a person, and that the capacity to love not only still exists, but seems to actually GROW.
I love this quote: “the heart is the the only broken instrument that works”. I’ve known so many people who skipped out on taking chances in life because they believed that the potential hurt wasn’t worth the risk. I’m just not that person. I’ve learned to be a little bit smarter with age, but I still jump feet first, eyes closed, and heart open. Wouldn’t have it any other way. Good night to each of you. Here’s to hoping that you will remember to live a little with your eyes closed, and your hearts open. Much love, xxB
There is an old Sufi teaching story about a character by the name of Mulla Nasrudin. A man is walking home one night and sees Mulla Nasrudin on his hands and knees under a street lamp outside his home. ”Mulla, what are you looking for?” He asks. “The key to my house.” Nasrudin replies. The man gets down next to him and helps him look. After they search for a while with no luck, the man asks Nasrudin where he dropped the key. Nasrudin waves his arm towards his darkened home and says “over there, by my house”. The man exclaims “Then why are you looking for it over here??” to which Mulla Nasrudin replies; “Because there is more light over here”.
We find this story funny because it seems so obviously silly. But is it? We all go looking in questionable directions for answers to our problems. Some of us turn to vices such as drugs and alcohol. Some of us become obsessive about things we can control when there are factors in our lives that we can’t. Others get angry and bitter, taking their feelings of helplessness out on those that are truly helpless. How often does it occur to any of us that we may find the answers where it is the darkest? Inside ourselves.
The past several months I have gone through an incredibly difficult time. My very notion of who I am and what I want has been challenged. At times I felt as if I were a balloon that had been severed from my tie. With no control over the direction I was heading, I felt as if I was at the mercy of the wind… bobbing and swaying, drifting all over the place. After many failed attempts to find some sense of place from other sources, I realized that I must turn in and sit with what was happening inside myself. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. To retreat and be still when every bone in my body was screaming “surround yourself with people! go out and party! get out! get away!” was a great test.
Tonight as I was returning home from my walk with the dogs, I came upon one of the local homeless people I see around quite a bit. I have noted that he pivots between two main emotions; anger and euphoria. This evening he was standing by an apartment complex’s outdoor washer/dryer, watching the spin cycle and yelling joyously, “THIS IS ONLY A TEST!!!”.
And maybe, that’s all this stuff really is…. a test. I think we would all react to it a bit differently if we thought that were true. My sits both yesterday and today(okay, okay, so I didn’t post about my sit yesterday… again, I make the rules here, so sue me.) were pretty eye opening. I like to think of myself as an honest person, and I am for the most part, with everyone but myself. As I sit more frequently(3 weeks worth as of today yeeeeeehaw!) I am finding that my ability to be brutally honest with el numero uno(that’s me!) is pretty impressive. I had such a major aha moment with myself two days ago that it sent me into 2 major, awesome panic attacks… now that IS impressive!!! And why am I not freaking out more about the anxiety? Well, it seems the more I sit, the more I am beginning to realize what a sneaky snake this brain of mine is, and I’m starting to find it a bit comical…. I’m finding myself speaking to it as if it is a different entity; “Oh come on! You ain’t slick!”. And it’s really not people, it’s really not. Our minds are just the product of all the different ways we’ve taught it to deceive ourselves… wait what? Yeah, you might need to read that again. We have, unbeknownst to ourselves, created the monster that rallies against us day in and day out. Of course we had a little help. Our society… no explanation needed. Our parents, god bless them, they didn’t know. Our fears, our wants, our needs. And all that is really required for us to take back the night is for us to sit in the dark with ourselves….
So do it. Embrace the beast. See what you might find when you leave the warm glow of the street lamp and search where the answers really lay…. in the dark.
And at the end of it all, we may just find ourselves joyously proclaiming “it was only a test”…… xx
Dogs barking, wind blowing, hail falling, lights flickering… and all during my sit this evening. I am the first one to make light of how southern Californians go “stormwatch” crazy when we get a little rain. But, even I must say that the storm this evening is pretty darn hectic. Miraculously, my leak has abated some… I think even it got a little tired of the monotonous downpour. I felt pretty cozy with my second(yay) fire in as many days burning, a little glass of vino, and a chat with a dear friend. I could hear the all the blustering fury going on outside, but inside it felt still and warm.
Remind you of anything?
As I lay here in bed typing this, the storm rages on. It’s comforting in an odd way. I love the sounds of the dogs snoring softly around me juxtaposed against the calamity outside. I think of another one of my favorite Rilke poems.
You, darkness, that I come from,
I love you more than all the fires
that fence in the world,
for the fire makes
a circle of light for everyone,
and then no one outside learns of you.
But the darkness pulls in everything:
shapes and fires, animals and myself,
how easily it gathers them! -
powers and people -
and it is possible a great energy
is moving near me.
I have faith in nights.”
I love the notion of the darkness pulling us in… that it should be a comfort rather than something to be feared. I read this poem and know that when I wake up tomorrow and the storm has passed, there will be part of me wishing I could return to this moment….. in stillness, with chaos all around. xx
There are many things that I love. But this:
are the bee’s knees as far as I’m concerned. A night by the fire, curled up with a good book or talking with friends is about as good as it gets for me. And cupcakes! They’re like cake! Only smaller! What’s not to love? So, with my ceiling leak worsening by the hour, and no end in sight to the torrential downpour outside… I toasted the first fire in my new abode with cupcakes from Yummy’s in Santa Monica(if this is my trainer John reading this, I only had a bite…. everyone else, I definitely had more than one.). This is one happy girl.
I’m trying to get this post in early tonight. You see, I’ve gotten myself into somewhat of a vicious cycle with my sits and posts. Not sure if any of you have noticed, but sometimes my blog additions are posted kinda late at night, or very early in the morning depending how you look at it. I’m pretty sure my mother is the only one who checks that sort of thing…. yesterday her voicemail started with; “What were you doing up at 3AM?!?!?” I’m not naturally a night owl, but lately one thing leads to another and suddenly it’s the middle of the night. Then my sits suffer because I try to catch as many z’s as possible before my day’s schedule starts and I don’t get to my meditation until later. Usually it’s squeezed in as is convenient… and that’s just not the way this process should be unfolding. So here I is, trying to be a good girl and get some sleep tonight.
This brings to mind a book that I’ve read multiple times, called “Going on Being” by Mark Epstein. It’s an autobiographical account of his experiences with buddhism and psychotherapy. It’s a really interesting read, and every time I pick it up I am fascinated to find that there are parts that make even more sense to me as my own practice deepens.
Epstein writes, “Using our capacity for consciousness, we can change perspective on ourselves, giving a sense of space where once there was only habit. Discipline means restraining the habitual movement of the mind, so that instead of blind impulse there can be clear comprehension.”
This to me, is one of the most exciting effects of meditation. When you start to become aware of your own habit patterns, a whole new world of possibility unfolds before your eyes… YOUR eyes! I absolutely love moments where I witness myself doing something and for the first time it hits me, “good god, I do this??” It may be that I catch myself in judgement, or I realize that my intentions for doing a particular thing aren’t what I have led myself to believe they were. Whatever the case may be, the absolute coolest aspect of the whole deal is that you start to hold yourself accountable. You begin to realize that you really do want to be the best possible version of yourself and that only you can do something about it. This doesn’t mean that these habits will change overnight, but the awareness that they exist is, in and of itself a pretty phenomenal thing.
SO. Here’s my confession. I am coming clean about something I have observed about myself in regards to this blog. My pull here should be to my sits. However, I am starting to notice that at times, the pull is more towards the writing of these posts than it is to the meditation itself. I do myself, and all of you a disservice if I let my intention stray away from it’s original purpose, which was to sit 365 times in a row, and write about it. I am, at the end of the day, a performer… and knowing that people read these posts, it can begin to feel like a performance, which is very alluring. I want to make sure that I am writing because of my sits, not sitting because of what I want to write.
So now that I’ve blown the whistle on my sneaky, ego-maniac of a mind, I can keep an eye on myself and make sure that what is brought to you each evening comes from the purest of intentions. I really love sharing this journey of mine with all of you and love when you do the same. Tell me about your own path! Tell me your stories, your dreams, books you love to read and quotes that inspire you. There is a beautiful world of words out there, and we do the brilliant minds who wrote them such a service when we pass them along to each other.
And on that note…
an early good night from this fireplace sittin, cupcake eatin, big smilin, life lovin fool. xxB
As a Seattle native, it is with great disgust that I report to you that my roof in Los Angeles has sprung a leak. A pretty ugly one too. In fact, if I didn’t know better I would think the entire ceiling was caving in. I love knowing that the Pacific Northwest faction of my readers are stifling a chuckle right now. The worst part is that the third and biggest storm of the week is expected to hit tomorrow morning and last through the weekend. I’m not even sure it’s fair to say that I sat this evening as one eyeball was cocked to the ceiling the entire time. I have a feeling tomorrow is going to be reeeeeeeeeeeeeeal interesting.
grrrrrrrrrrrr. Hard to be inspired when I am feeling anxious that I might be kayaking down the stairs to breakfast in the morning. Trying to think of what lesson I might derive from this experience. It’s hilarious what pops into your head when you’re trying to be spiritual and so not feeling it. I’m thinking: “what analogy can I use to compare the dripping water flowing though the beams of my ceiling to the way that life will find it’s way to seep in to…. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH I can’t believe my freaking roof is leaking!!!!!!!” ugh. so much for zen.
So finally, in a last ditch effort to make something out of this fiasco, I typed “Leak Quotes” into google(or as my slovak father calls it: GOOGILY). Up popped this quote by Samuel Johnson: “He that pursues fame with just claims, trusts his happiness to the winds; but he that endeavors after it by false merit, has to fear, not only the violence of the storm, but the leaks of his vessel.” ahhhhhh now this is something I can work with. It reminds me that part of meditation is becoming a vessel. Every time, I am emptying my cup to allow space for what comes next. I am giving permission for whatever is present in the moment to exist. When we take this practice out into the world, it allows us to release the need to focus on the outcome. The real gift is THE DOING and the presence of your authentic self while engaged in the doing.
Tonight I gave up worrying about my dumb ceiling. It’s just drywall and paint, and some of my stuff might get wet, big deal. I went upstairs and made a list of fun things I could do in the morning if there was water everywhere…. kayak to breakfast, invite friends over for indoor slip n slide, and recreate scenes from “Waterworld” topped the list.
My roof may have leaks, but my vessel doesn’t. And that’s all that really matters. xx