"What would you do?"
A great story is relayed in Christina Feldman's book, The Buddhist Path to Simplicity...
"A young boy once asked his mother, "What would you do if you imagined you were surrounded by a pack of hungry tigers with no one to save you?" His mother answered, "I don't know. What would you do?" He answered, "I'd stop pretending."
Wow! What an amazing and simple solution! Our imagination can carry our thoughts so far away from our present we forget it is made up. Our imaginations love questions like the one above, yet our usual response is something more like "I would climb a tree. No! Tigers can climb. I would look for food to throw them and run. No there are too many so maybe I would play dead. Well, I can see in my head that doesn't work as one is prodding me with a paw. Maybe they are friendly and I could talk them into looking for food with me..." and on and on. And when our imagination gets worked up so do our bodies. We react as though the illusions were real. And who needs added stress and fear from a made up scenario? Umm, no one.
But how do we remember to bring our thoughts back out of made up land? We need something tangible.
This reminds me of the Zen story where "a man is enjoying himself on a river at dusk. He sees another boat coming down the river toward him. At first it seems so nice to him that someone else is also enjoying the river on a nice summer evening. Then he realizes that the boat is coming right toward him, faster and faster. He begins to yell, “Hey, hey, watch out! For Pete’s sake, turn aside!” But the boat just comes right at him faster and faster. By this time he’s standing up in his boat, screaming and shaking his fist, and then the boat smashes right into him. He sees that it’s an empty boat."
What an expense of energy through anger for nothing. It is the same as when we allow our minds to take off on their own creating a million possible endings to our current situation. And, the funny thing is that none of them are real. Do not give away your power and do allow the tigers to become real.
Teilhard de Chardin writes, "It doesn't matter if the water is cold or warm if you're going to have to wade through it anyway."
We have to move forward through life as it unfolds before us so why waste time and energy trying to guess what's coming or worrying about the decisions that are ahead. Stay present. It may be through the breath, it may be stopping to touch the earth, it may be something else that works for you.
In a Funk
It seems to me a lot of people lately are in a place foreign to them. It feels very familiar and they have been there before but it is foreign because it is not in alignment with their true nature, which is happiness. Are you in a funk? Or are the people around you? Struggling... in all sorts of different ways. Are you yourself struggling to reach out to your fairy godmother in hopes that a wave of her wand will cure all? We wonder, how do we get back to our comfort zone? We may not have been ecstatic there but we also were not in strife there.
"In a fairy tale, you often have to leave the place where you have grown comfortable and travel to a fearful place of pain, and search for what was stolen or confront the occupying villain...". Anne Lamott
What was stolen might be good health, it might be mindful calm, it might be...whatever! But how do we get the villain within to move back out, to step aside allowing our light to shine again?
Strangely enough, with all the stories of aches and hardship and despair I am hearing (and I've been in what I call a "funk", too!), my yoga teacher, Sylvia just posted her own eulogy on facebook. She wrote it herself with the hopes of what she would like others to say about her and then she went back to what she had written to see if they were true. Maybe we do need to go backwards to go forwards again with a clear path. Maybe we need to surround ourselves more closely with people who, cumulatively, can bring our energy back up. Maybe we need to be open to looking for a different answer.
"I remembered what happens in fairy tales; the helper always appears in a form that doesn't look very helpful..."
I flipped open the book Grace (Eventually) to the following poem:
St. Francis And The Sow - Poem by Galway Kinnell
stands for all things,
even those things that don't flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as St. Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking
and blowing beneath them:
the long, perfect loveliness of sow."
What do you need to hear today to lift your spirits? Whose spirit can you lift?..."sometimes it is necessary to reteach a thing its loveliness".
Be Like the Effortless Wind
by Mary Oliver, Why I Wake Early
The marsh hawk
as other hawks do,
work his wings
like soft hinges
the morning marsh,
or so it seems,
lays his breast upon the air
and the air, as if understanding,
floats him along
with his wings open,
and raised, just a little
beyond the horizontal-in thanks, perhaps,
to the great crystal carrier
of leaves and clouds-
And even though his shadow
his every tilt and flow, and even though
he must know that hunger will win,
he doesn't hurry,
but floats in wide circles
as he gazes
into the marshes below
his hard beak
and the hooks of his feet, as though
more lasting than meat.
At noon he's still there
above the brambles, the grass, the flat water,
where, in their almost stately disengagement,
the incredible dampness and darkness
To decipher this poem would mean to miss the point of the poem, which is to simply enjoy it. To allow the words to paint a picture of what is and be content with just being and visualizing.
Hawks are messengers since they can fly up to the heavens and back down to earth. In this poem, the marsh hawk's message is to enjoy world around you without stressing out about the circumstances. Oliver writes that the hawk knows it will remain hungry, yet, it stays and allows the wind to carry him.
She writes that the air floats him along and I asked you to feel that in your yoga poses this morning; allowing the poses to feel effortless like the wind.
"To move forward simply set your intentions, be grateful for what you have, be open to what is possible, and the rest just happens as a beautiful and effortless flow." – Bryant McGill
American poet Archibald Mac Leish wrote to Mary Oliver: "You have indeed entered the kingdom. You have done something better than create your own world: you have discovered the world we all live in and do not see and cannot feel."
Picture an octopus moving through the water. It's motions are fluid like the vessel of water that surrounds him. He seems to glide with the water, become the water; he does not swim against it or away from it. Imagine his eight long arms floating about, reaching, exploring, contracting, adapting.
The octopus is able to camouflage himself; he (she?!) is a shape shifter. Do you shape shift with different people? Are you bigger, more talkative, and expressive with some people and, with others, shrink back, become smaller, quieter?
This really isn't a theme about the octopus as a totem. I was actually thinking about cord cutting. Cord cutting is the idea of letting go of the energetic ties we have with people, memories or situations that sap our energy. They bring us down in some way, make us feel drained and tired. The premise is that you form a cord of energy with everyone you meet. But that cord does not die off when certain relationships do. In fact, we remain connected to everyone's energy unless we specifically do a cord cutting. You can even separate from only the negative aspects of a relationship rather than the entire person. Although the word cutting sounds painful, this process is not and the other person will have no idea you have done this unless you tell them. They may feel distanced from you but unsure as to why.
John Holland writes, "When you focus and direct your thoughts and energy on a particular person, place, object, situation, or even an uncompleted project, you’ll establish an energetic cord with whatever you’re focusing on. "
I always envision this bundle of cords coming in to my belly button, each one extending to someone or something else.
Now picture the octopus's arms. More specifically, the suction cups on the arms. When I think of energy cords attached to me it is almost with a passiveness. What if we think about these cords stemming from us, reaching out and suctioning on to other people, memories and/or things? I then seem to feel more responsibility and ownership of these energies. All I need to do is release the suction and slip away...
"The octopus is a regenerative creature, meaning that it can detach an appendage if need be. This defensive tactic allows them to escape predators and other potentially harmful situations."
The octopuses choose to detach. Can't we then, too?
"Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it's always your choice." Wayne Dyer
Release the toxic and infectious-
Spreaders of misery,
Souls destroying souls-
And poisonous liars.
Awaken from the hallucinations-
And take back your heart.
Reclaim your self-esteem-
And leave the toxic be.”
― Giorge Leedy, Uninhibited From Lust To Love
I ran into a store to buy a mini muffin pan and stopped first at the 70% off sale table. I didn't see anything I "needed" and as I began to move on a word caught my eye. Karma. I picked up the box to see a purple plastic creation called Karma Kitty. She apparently is like a modern day 8 Ball, but with three modes. Her kitty talk mode allows you to record your voice and hear it back as the voice of a cat; similar, I suppose, to that old talking parrot toy from the past. And then her MASH mode, which allows you to give three answers t a question. It then takes those answers and "combines them into a fun outlook". Lastly, there is a crystal ball function which "offers exciting predictions about your future by answering your questions."
Such an interesting misuse of the word karma, I thought. Karma does not need a fortune teller. Karma is too obvious for that. You have bad thoughts or bad actions, that's what arrives. You have good thoughts and actions...good arrives. It is not because karma is punitive or a big evil hand that sweeps in to punish those who do bad things; karma simply exists like a balanced scale. Someone doing a bad thing means they are, at that time, operating from a bad place- they are already punishing themselves. Karma comes from within. It is the summation of our thoughts, actions and words. Where it may get confusing for some to grasp is that karma is not just about this lifetime. You carry your balance from life to life.
THE DEBT OF KARMA
by Yogi Amrit Desai
Every soul is charged with an evolutionary mission
To realize its inborn divine potential.
Life is a perpetual therapeutic irritation.
It provides a compelling force to drive us
Toward the completion of our mission.
When we deny a painful experience,
It goes underground as a pending debt of unfinished karma.
When you block pain, you may feel temporary relief,
But your karmic account is not closed.
The collection agency will present the lesson
Again and again, in various forms.
Through apparently unrelated events.
Every event that is not faced fully and consciously comes back
As irritation, emotion, resistance or denial.
Habitual ways of reacting and reliving the same event
All lessons will be repeated until they are learned.
The debt of karma is paved in consciousness.