Archive for December, 2011

My own contraryness

Yesterday I began my Christmas shopping, and luckily ended it as well. When I first entered the store, I was disgusted with us as humans. Falling for the consumerism lifestyle. Where was the love and unity that is supposed to accompany this holiday? Seemed to be missing and replaced with a desperate need to buy things for people. Didn’t matter much what the item was or where it would end up in a year, as long as we got something for everyone on our list.

By the end of my excursion, contrary to my beliefs and understanding, I was completely taken by the shiny objects scattered about. I wanted a new jacket, a cool sweater, some new boots. And that was only from the clothing store. My body began to feel anxious with want. Yet, I left without anything for myself except a—somewhat—needed—pair of leggings. And now the day after I don’t even remember any of those objects that were causing me stress with its pull.

We all hold contrary behaviors and beliefs at times. Where are the conflicts that you have between action and principles? Which one do you ultimately place as more important? Is there a way to bring them close together? Perhaps by examining them, the clash will be lessened and our whole self will be in agreement with itself.

Enjoy the holidays for the love and peace that abounds, even in a consumerist society.

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Nature as Teacher

Albert Einstein said “Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.” I bet that we can all agree that Albert Einstein was a smart man, so let us take his advice and look deeper into nature as away to better understand all else.

First let’s examine how nature can teach us through example by looking at the life cycle of an acorn. First it is born as a flower eventually becoming an acorn. When the time comes, it will fall from the tree in search of fertile ground. Some acorns may be picked up by critters or float down a body of water to find a home away from the parent tree. Once favorable soil conditions are found, and other damaging potentials are overcome—such as being eaten by an animal or insect, the acorn will send down it’s tap root while sending up its shoots to begin life as a seedling. This stage brings more potential dangers, such as being eaten by deer, burned in a fire or taken down by humans. However with steady commitment to it’s life impulse, the oak seedling will grow through the sapling stage to become a small tree and eventually begin flowering and producing acorns of its own. This story can teach us how to persevere through obstacles just as the acorn finds a home and pushes through the soil. We can also see by example the teaching to keep growing and stay on our own path in spite of dangerous possiblities. And another lesson to be seen is that everything has its own season, there is no need to force any other time schedule.

In addition to teaching us by example, spending more time in nature has health benefits. In a series of studies, scientists found that when people swap their concrete confines for a few hours in more natural surroundings — forests, parks and other places with plenty of trees — they experience increased immune function. Stress reduction is one factor for this. But scientists also chalk it up to phytoncides, the airborne chemicals that plants emit to protect themselves and which also seem to benefit humans. One study published in January included data on 280 healthy people in Japan, where visiting nature parks for therapeutic effect has become a popular practice called “Shinrin-yoku,” or “forest bathing.” On one day, some people were instructed to walk through a forest or wooded area for a few hours, while others walked through a city area. On the second day, they traded places. The scientists found that being among plants produced “lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, and lower blood pressure,” among other things. A number of other studies have shown that visiting parks and forests seems to raise levels of white blood cells, including one in 2007 in which men who took two-hour walks in a forest over two days had a 50-percent spike in levels of natural killer cells. And another found an increase in white blood cells that lasted a week in women exposed to phytoncides in forest air.

Spending time in nature also bring us into close proximity to a primal part of ourselves. Just as a domesticated horse or dog still carries an aspect of their wild ancestors, so too do humans as they all once lived out amongst the natural world before building permanent structures to live and work in. For me, this primal self can also be defined as soul. Being more in touch this part of ourselves allows us to drop preconceived notions about what we should be and often allows an experience of just being. This in turn gives us a sense of belonging in and unity with the world. A feeling that is often lacking in our current society.

Nature has many ways to become our teacher. For one it teaches by example, showing us qualities to emulate in order to have a truthful, authentic and enjoyable life. It also helps by healing and lowering our stress levels while increasing our immunity. This will allow us to engage more fully with ourselves and the world. It also gives us the opportunity to experience a depth of being that is often overlooked when we are only inside artificial environments.

My plea to you reading this and also to our greater society is to get outside, get out of doors and make friends with the natural world. See for yourself what opens up in such beauty and intelligence.

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Osho Quote

These are not my own words, but once I read them I could think of nothing more brilliant.

“Look at the trees, look at the birds, look at the clouds, look at the stars… and if you have eyes you will be able to see that the whole existence is joyful. Everything is simply happy. Trees are happy for no reason; they are not going to become prime ministers or presidents and they are not going to become rich and they will never have any bank balance. Look at the flowers – for no reason. It is simply unbelievable how happy flowers are. ~Osho

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United in Nature

The sun, in being what it is, lights my vision and warms my skin.
The leaves speak of their existence by mumbling in the breeze.
The earth rests peacefully underneath my weight.

Is it my soul that rejoices in this feeling of belonging?
My spirit? My ego? The Divine?
Or are we all enmeshed in totality,
becoming so whole as to be one within and without?

Whatever the reason, I know the breathe of the earth,
the rhythm of the sun and the experience of being human,
are beautiful individually and ecstatic in unity.

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An outsider may see my life as one full of heart. Yet, I know my brain and thoughts are over active and often rule my experience. I am “lucky” that my head and heart often agree on things. Such as work and life should be enjoyable, authenticity is a priority, and that nature and animals have a lot to teach humans.

Some of the differences between my head and heart are about organization. My heart wants to follow what it’s most interested in at each moment. My head thinks it’s important to set goals and see tangible results. Although these two approaches can conflict, they also may be an example of how opposites work together to create a unified whole.

Music is one of my great loves. This morning, while watching videos of artists creating outstanding music, I saw the concentration and focus it takes to play through the structure of a song. A song exemplifies the idea that although the world is limitless, it needs a structure or some matter, in order for it to become something other than spirit. There is an infinite amount of ways a song can come together, yet without something that pulls it all together, the notes are just a bunch of sounds. Perhaps another way to see it is as a string of unrelated words rather than a coherent sentence. This gave me a visual of that very process through which my head and heart sometimes have conflict. My nature is all about freedom and limitlessness and yet to bring that into the physical there needs to perimeters. And I wonder what is the best route to live in the outer world of boundaries while remaining true to the inner world of essence.

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At the end of September, my soul began to cry for some attention. It was saying “I need to be with the stars, the sun and the earth. I need to be away from the habits we’ve been living. I want to know you hear me and will respect my desires as much as the wishes of your ego and other people.” On a rational level this call seemed frivolous, so I resisted it. Plus, what did it really want me to do? My head wanted specifics and without them, I wasn’t going to be able to follow. Yet, after some time, I began to understand that to keep suppressing this soul’s appeal would be detrimental to my health, happiness and attitude towards life. So, I decided to listen. While the idea was forming I didn’t talk about it much, lest anyone persuade me of what I was already suspicious—that it was a crackpot idea. One that was irresponsible and would lead me to my complete demise. Looking back, that idea seems like the completely crackpot one, but that’s what hindsight can do.

My first instinct was to travel north to be alone in the mountains of the Adirondacks, a place I love and spent a good amount of time as a child. Yet, when I looked at a calendar and realized it would be October, the idea of sleeping outside in the Adirondacks was not very appealing. As it was, I missed the warmth of the summer sun in September. So, I switched directions to the south, and a trip began to design itself. When I sought clarity on where to go and what to plan or even what the outcome of this trip would be, my soul would say; “You’ll find your way without knowing ahead where you are going. This trip is about practicing being in the moment, which means NOT planning in advance but being where you are and open to experiencing that completely. While also trusting yourself to move towards the next moment as you feel directed.” This sounded nice to a part of me, but my conditioned self was not having an easy time fully comprehending the message. This made it complicated to explain to other people. So, I continued to keep it somewhat quiet, although those closest to me knew. Some, did want more of an explanation than what I was able to give. Even though it was challenging to disappoint them, I stuck with my call and set off on a mostly unplanned road trip on October 11, 2011.

What has your soul been calling for? Do you listen? And then follow what you hear? More often than not, the call is small, such as a desire to draw for a few minutes. Or to sing at the top of your lungs to music that fills you with joy. The size of the request is not important, it’s the follow through that makes a big impression on our inner lives. The information age has given us a huge amount of technological advances. May we also remember that which existed before those developments. Soul, spirit, earth, stars, and most of all love.

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My breathe flows in deeply
as I rest on the earth
propped up by my sister Maple.
How lucky I am to be here,
welcomed by these friends in
and of the silence.

Will I succeed in harmonizing
with the vibration that needs
no intention or forethought?
My eyes close for a moment
in hopes of being more receptive,
but it shuts me off from the surroundings.

I am the eyes of this sisterhood,
as well the legs and the movement.
Here I know well that, though different,
I am a part of this place even in my going.
Humans too often believe in
conformity as a path to belonging.

To be in your true essence while
among others is the only way,
at least for me, to find a position in the world.
Anything other than that is manufactured
by thoughts and ‘should be’ rather than
pure existence from our nature.

Thoughts from people are useful
yet it is the purity of finding our way
from the heart that is being called when
longing presents itself again and again.
Yet we say “I don’t know. I don’t hear. I don’t see.”
And life goes on. And nature goes on. And your way, goes on.

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