Saturday, February 18, 2012

At the onset of this week's Winds of Change time, I was gathering up my letter writing materials at Peaks Cafe, where I had enjoyed the company of the two owners, Lisa and Ellen, as they worked on a picture puzzle of Slavic decorated Easter eggs while I wrote to my dear friend Loanne.

I packed my shoulder bag, donned my turquoise patterned fleece vest, button-up, grey wool sweater, wool hat, and mis-matched gloves, and headed out the Cafe door. I meandered up the hill towards home, walking the winding "back way" road, taking you all with me. Just this morning, I had seen two male cardinals, or perhaps the same cardinal, from both living room and kitchen windows, harbingers of a day of Self love. I crested the hill, and as I followed the northwest turn in the road, I heard chickadees calling, smelled the scent of mud as I felt the squish of soft earth under my boots, saw bags of garden soil in neighboring yards, and spotted newly turned flower beds. In the distance, between seaside roof tops to the south, was the glistening sea, beckoning me to her.

When I arrived at my doorstep, I entered my kitchen, pausing long enough to put down my shoulder bag and pocket a small pair of binoculars, returning to the out-of-doors and the short, ribboning roadway to the ocean side. Following the lead of some other calling, I clambered across rocky beach to a sheltered stand of ledges, finding a perfect shelf to sit on, facing the receding tide. 

The play of sun in and out of clouds patterned the sea with long slices of white glitter and muted slate grey in whatever way sun and cloud tagged the sea. I closed my eyes, feeling the sun's warmth caressing my face, releasing any tension into a slow and easy smile. It has been weeks since I've formally meditated, as moment-to-moment has become a meditation on Aliveness, so the stance my body was taking was like a homecoming, a familiar invitation to stillness, silence, and peace.

As I was let go, there was the sensation of the middle space of my body, from shoulders to hips, expanding into grey ocean like ripples, the very ones before me, as my head and my legs remained solid. I returned, laughing with a gull I heard overhead, wondering if he saw me, this head floating above water, with legs bent in a sitting position. I peeked open my eyes, seeing the sea, and closed them again, to the very same sensation of head above water, and feet planted firmly on rock solid earth. Was I dissolving into the Beingness that Tony Parsons describes? And is it my head - my  mind - and my legs - my movement through this world - that are resisting this transformation? I laughed again, opening my eyes to the moment before me.

Soaking in warming rays, I took off my hat and gloves, then removed the binoculars from my sweater pocket and lifted them to my eyes. Out on the sea was a flock of maybe 30 ducks, most of them looking to be younglings to my untrained eyes. They swam westward together, intermingling, then one by one, disappeared under the waves, only to emerge again, repositioning themselves, instinctively improvising this dance over and over again. Putting the binoculars down, I gazed at the large rocks by the water's edge, some splayed with seaweed, others wet with sea spray, and one particular formation glistening like seals huddled together, shapeshifting from rocks to seals and back to rocks again.

I took up the binoculars, looking to where I thought the ducks would be, and they had disappeared. As I scanned back over the waters towards the east, they had backtracked and were turning back around, heading in the direction I had first seen them swimming. What were they doing? I thought. "Simply being," came the answer, "riding the Winds of Change" without a need to how or why. And so have we, I thought, during this shared hour and a half. 

Please feel free to share your experience of the Winds of Change time or your thoughts on my experience in the comment section of this blog. Namaste.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

I set today aside as a Mindfulness Day in keeping with Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh's teachings - "to be mindful means to dwell deeply in the present moment, to be aware of what is going on within and around us."  

In that light, I was so grateful to acknowledge the presents/presence of all of you in my life as I am experiencing a bout with vertigo, which I understand many of you have come down with as well. At the onset of this Winds of Change, I felt a communal embrace, and it was comforting. 

As I gazed outside my kitchen window, there were huge flakes descending, an unpredicted freshness added to my day. I finished making my vegan "chicken" salad, searing the tempeh in marinating juices of balsamic vinegar, Braggs liquid aminos, and dijon mustard, as I blended soaked raw cashews, a squeeze of fresh lime juice, and a bit of rice milk in my blender for homemade vegan mayonnaise. Once the tempeh had cooled, I toppled it into a mixing bowl, adding the cashew-naise, chopped celery and onion, and a dash of poultry seasoning, stirring it all together, covering the bowl, and placing it in the fridge to set. I then decided to clean up the kitchen at a slow and steady pace, and proceeded into the living room, sitting at my laptop and writing this blog post.

Oftentimes when I'm not feeling well, I check in with my sisters for clarification of possible causes. My sister Anne is usually ready with a reading from the book Heal Your Body by metaphysical lecturer Louise Hay. This "little blue book" as it's referred to, includes an alphabetical chart of physical ailments, the probable causes, and healing affirmations. I've misplaced my copy, and decided to e-mail my sister Mary instead, whose response was, "I don't see you being 'sick," per se...more spiritually 'off.' Does that make any sense?" It most certainly did!

I've been so off-kilter in my day-to-day spiritual practice, I feel like everything in my life is topsy-turvey, and my responses are so unpredictable. As one small example, while at work two days ago, I received a phone call in the middle of my shift. Because employees are only allowed emergency calls, my mind immediately ran through possible disastrous scenarios involving my mother, my daughters and my grandchildren. By the time I reached the phone, all of my flight-or-fight responses had kicked in. As I listened on the phone, it was the hospital calling to update my medical records. I calmly and clearly conveyed that it was not an appropriate time to call, hung up the phone, and returned to my shift, heart still pounding. 

I was angry, coming down from what felt like a near panic attack, and at the same time, surprised at my vehement response. I finished the 20 minutes of my shift before breaking for lunch, still fuming in the break room, preparing my lunch and walking down the stairs to the cafe, where I found a seat in the sun and stared out the window. It wasn't until then that I was able to break through the illusion of the moment, observe the totality of my reactions, acknowledge them, and shift my focus from my reactions to simple beingness. I felt an immediate release. 

Just as Anne wrote in her comment to the previous post, my life is "...taking unexpected turns every day - somehow not playing out the way I imagined or even planned. And it's all okay and often even better than what I thought or at least DIFFERENT." Indeed!

These days, I feel like I'm breaking down old concepts and the new has yet to settle in, so I'm in a temporary limbo. Thoughts and feelings, ideas and no ideas are coursing through this identity called Claire, and yet, there is no Claire, not even clarity. As Tony Parsons says, "It just is." Thank you for the opportunity to share this experience of the great shift that is taking place, and please, if you are moved to, feel free to share your own thoughts here. Namaste.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Winds of Change will be held Saturday, February 4, from 10:00 - 11:30 am EST.
Please join me in being consciously aware of your thoughts, words, actions, and deeds, as well as the presents/presence of other WoC'ers, during this time. Sharing your experiences is encouraged and welcomed. Namaste.