Monday, September 26, 2011

As Without, So Within

A foggy fuzzy September morning
 Misty, murky, mostly gloomy

My vision is blurry - I only see faintly
Down the boulevard of broken boughs, their elbows bony,
Spindly arms cracking their whips, tightening their grips,
Onward, inward, forward, wayward

Until I feel blind and backward,
Frail and awkward

All I see is but a fragile path ahead
And some brassy baubles along the way I tread

I pick them as I go, compile my piles
I revel in my pretty possessions, wreathed in smiles
They are here today, gone tomorrow
And yet for now, I am fooled by their glow

When I finally look up I know I'm lost
In the endless fog, I hadn't noticed where my roads had crossed

I keep going anyway, fallen, lost, adrift, astray
Until I see a little ray, of hope, of promise, in all this grey

It's but a brief relief - a spot to rest
In a borrowed nest, just as a guest, 

But tomorrow - tomorrow I start again green, 
I won't stop for any brassy sheen
I'll keep going until I find the gold
I'll keep going until it's the Sun I behold

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Flipping my Attitude to Gratitude

While I'm just getting over the pain in my neck, I have something new to deal with - bald patches! I don't know how long I've had them, but when my son pointed them out to me I freaked out. I found two big ones - each the size of a quarter, and another small one just starting. I called my sister the earliest I could and she said it was most likely due to stress. I never would have guessed I would have to worry about stress, but now that I think about it, how do I get rid of stress!? Short of quitting my job and running away to a mountain top where all I do is read and write, I can't think of a holistic solution to relieve stress. But as I start thinking I realize I can't just wait to retire and address it then - I have to start addressing it now, or risk the chance of losing all my hair!

The first thing that comes to mind is meditation, but I've been trying this for a long time now, and I feel like I'm going backwards. Then I remember the poem Mangala had sent me - Beannacht - to find a flock of color to chase away the ghosts of greys. I remember my old gratitude journal I had started more than 10 years ago when I had read Sarah ban Breathnach's Simple Abundance. It had tremendously changed my outlook on life - from complaining to compassion, from thoughtlessness to thankfulness, from self-pity to savoring precious moments.
I had maintained that journal for a while, off and on, but I haven't been rigorous about it lately, because I figured as long as my perspective has changed I don't really have to record it. But now that I'm watching my thoughts, I realize how absorbed they are on all the wrong things I do. I have this dream of being a simple, innocent being, open, honest, truthful, strong, and kind. And it kills me that I'm not all those. I suffer in self-guilt, for not being the person I want to be. But I really have to start making an effort at flipping my outlook - from finding all the things that are wrong with my life, to listing all the things that are right. I just assumed that I was already doing this in my mind, but when I actually sit and read my own mind, I seem to be spending more time on the black and grey sides of my world, than the colorful ones. I realize now that I have to make it a practice to pause and pay attention to all the everyday things that are beautiful and right - I want to notice them and make a note of sending up my thanks for them.
So here's what I'm grateful for today (from Saturday's journal) -
  • Waking up early, on dark cool mornings, and watching the clouds while waiting for the sun to come up.
  • The pleasant soreness in my body reminds me of the lovely long yoga session this morning
  • The coffee and scone afterwards, sitting on a stone bench, hidden high up in the trees
  • The first fall tree, falling water, counting rings on a fallen tree, lemony yellow leaves, sun and shade
  • Visit to the pet shop with my son, to look at baby kittens
  • Strings of starlings stretched across the sky at the end of the day, like a ruffled edge of a cloud-skirt
  • My journal - it helps keep me sane

    Friday, September 9, 2011

    Mindwatching as a Hobby

    I must say - as a hobby, watching my mind can get obsessive, but I'm not sure if I have a choice. Once in a while I lose track of it - I can't tell if I'm watching my mind, or just following its meaningless meandering.

    I woke up at 4:30am this morning, when I heard Jazzy opening the door that I thought was closed quite tight. I let her out and then noticing that it's nicer outside than inside, I brought out my mat and slipped out myself. I did some yoga in the cool dawn air, everything all around me still dark, the birds still not awake, only the crickets chirping away ceaselessly. After yoga, I sat for a while trying to meditate, counting my breaths, counting my Oms, quieting my mind. But nothing seemed to work, so I started watching it - where it was going, what it was thinking, scheming, how it was rationalizing and justifying its own thoughts. My God, it was a cross between a raging fire and a raving monkey - it was swinging from thought to thought to thought until the whole forest was in flames and it still won't stop. My piddly attempts at meditation were like wimpy waterhoses dripping droplets of focus that were no match against the flying inferno that my mind was ferociously following.

    If this is how a regular mind works, I'm shocked that I'm not insane yet! Or am I? If I lose myself in my own thoughts, in my very own bottomless pit of snakes, how will I ever crawl out alive? And yet, I don't seem to try to escape.

    I do love being alone. I'm not afraid of myself. I think it's a good sign that I crave solitude - this, to me, is indication that I'm not running away from myself. If I'm to continue on this quest for soul, self and solitude, it's all the more imperative that I recognize any poisoning at all, however slow it maybe. Watching my mind helps. Just that alone seems to bring a touch of sanity to my thoughts. Mindfulness somehow seems to be the only thing to stanch the flow of the bitter venom from crawling too far up my veins. Maybe my meager meditations can somehow at least cool down the red tongue's thirst, if not quench it completely? And maybe if I'm mindful of being mindful more often, it can actually reverse the flow? I can only hope.

    Sunday, September 4, 2011

    A Bit of Color, a Cloak of Love

    As if in answer to the anguished questions of my grey soul, I got a poem in the mail from Mangala - it truly felt like a blessing getting it -


    On the day when
    the weight deadens
    on your shoulders
    and you stumble,
    may the clay dance
    to balance you.

    And when your eyes
    freeze behind
    the grey window
    and the ghost of loss
    gets in to you,
    may a flock of colours,
    indigo, red, green,
    and azure blue
    come to awaken in you
    a meadow of delight.

    When the canvas frays
    in the currach of thought
    and a stain of ocean
    blackens beneath you,
    may there come across the waters
    a path of yellow moonlight
    to bring you safely home.

    May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
    may the clarity of light be yours,
    may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
    may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
    And so may a slow
    wind work these words
    of love around you,
    an invisible cloak
    to mind your life.

    -John O'Donohue
    (Echoes of Memory)