Monday, January 14, 2013

Maine's January Thaw

I was sitting at a small table at Peaks Cafe, addressing the envelope of a note I had written to my brother Bill, when I noticed the time - 10:00 a.m. - the beginning of Winds of Change. As I walked to the nearby Post Office, sensations of the January thaw abounded: the sound of song birds chirping, the smell of mud, the feel of warmer air and sun, the brilliance of the day.

After mailing several packages and cards, I walked an easy pace home, up the hill and along the winding road, being purposely aware of my surroundings. There were receding patches of snow in yards and driveways and individual droplets of water, sparkling in the sun's light, coating low lying bushes. My feet squished through the wet dirt and crunched through wet snow, sinking a little with each step. Crows cawed continuously.

Once home, I checked my phone messages, responding to a call from my sister Mary, whose birthday is today (Happy Birthday, Mary!). I appreciated conversing with her during WoC time, holding an awareness of the shared "presents" of each of you, in celebration of her birthday.

It was so glorious a day that after our conversation ended, I returned to the outdoors and walked the curves of Seashore Avenue, watching the rising sea as it slapped against huge rocks and sprayed into the air, rushed to the shore, then retreated to the ocean with a thunderous clattering of pebbles. The waves glittered and the sun glowed.

As I continued walking, I noticed my mind wandering away from the present and into the past and future. Several times, in response to my distraction, I inwardly heard Albus Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts, yelling, "Silence!" as he commanded his students in one of the Harry Potter series. Routinely, I slipped into several of my walking mantras, one of them from Zen Buddhist monk Thích Nhất Hạnh: "Breathing in I calm my body, breathing out I smile, dwelling in the present moment, this is a wonderful moment." 

Wishing to return to silence, I repeated the word "si - lence" within myself, in rhythm with my pace, until gradually, the word shifted into two words, sigh-lens. At that point, a deep sigh flowed through me, expanding my present moment consciousness - my breath/sigh becoming a lens, a way of "seeing" from a deeper perspective. Each time I silently repeated the words sigh-lens, I would immediately be brought to that spacious place of opening. It is in this space that WoC time ended, so I retreated to one of the upper shoreline ledges, sitting in the serenity of sun and sea and salty air.

As always, I am so grateful for sharing the ride with each of you, and invite you to share your own experience here in the comment section of this blog. Namaste.



  1. I was talking to my sister, who writes this blog. BUT, I must say, the thought of PINK permeated my being. Magenta! My favorite crayon as a child. So...I changed my desktop to a soft, swirling pattern of pink highlights and outlines of what reminds me of a fushia flower, I changed my e mail page to a pink which looks like candlelight blurred though a pink screen. So for my 56th birthday, I'm resolving to be in the pink, so to speak. I see it as soft, gentle, loving-kindness. This, by the way, is a huge change for me. I'm more about browns, reds, rusts, coppers regarding color. Not a girly-girl pink am I. So I'm enjoying my new, "light" path......thanks for sharing, Claire. With love and gentleness,
    Mary :-)

  2. I hit a low today, so when I arrived home from work, reading your comment was like a soothing balm, which, in turn, was enhanced by the g-mail chat I had with our sister Anne, who also encouraged gentleness.

    What a beautiful space to be, Mary, in honor of your 56th birthday: "in the pink .... soft, gentle, loving-kindness." According to the Buddhist philosophy practiced by Thích Nhất Hạnh, loving kindness, or Maitri, is the first element of true love. (To read or listen to more, go to:

    Thank you for sharing your experience and your new, "light" path. Namaste.

  3. N.B. This comment is actually from Loanne, who posted the comment both to my personal e-mail and to this blog. Due to a glitch in my blog, I was unable to post the comment in its entirety, so I copied her e-mail, then posted it here, as she had originally intended. Thank you for your patience, Loanne. ~ Claire

    My WoC time...I woke early as always, but had the unusual sense of being tired enough to go back to sleep. As I'd been away all weekend, I decided to allow myself the sweet pleasure of climbing back under the covers to shut my eyes a bit longer. Next thing I knew it was almost WoC time. I lay, listening to my husband's rhythmic breathing until a bit after 8, when he awoke and WoC time was in full (EST) swing. I scooched toward him, melded my body to his, and we happily spooned a few minutes longer.

    I then dressed in many layers, it being in the single digits outside and overcast, and headed to the lake, my usual pre~dawn destination. The extra sleep, while lovely, seemed still to lay claim to my brain. I was drifty, inattentive, not at all mindful...and rapidly becoming frustrated by my inability to be present to my incredibly beautiful surroundings. Then I remembered something I heard over the weekend. My friend Val shared advice she'd been given when her own psyche was not responding as she wished~~to let go attempts to make herself more mindful or less frustrated, but to BE that which was aware of her current experience, to BE Awareness.

    And so I stopped trying to force myself to be anything or do anything in particular. I walked with an open awareness and acceptance of what was occurring, of my mind lazily and somewhat groggily drifting from this to that, feeling somewhat dull, disengaged and at times disappointed, not having a felt experience of either the glorious nature or the WoC time that held me.

    My mental state didn't miraculously change, but my identification was now as something much larger. I heard Val reminding me that this was an experience of one aspect of human consciousness, that of a woman, groggy from sleep, tired from a weekend away, processing her experience in a rather right brain kinda way. Letting go of the push to perform, I allowed what was. Which WAS miraculous in its own way. Certainly not the stuff of Hollywood movies, but the stuff of this one life, the miraculous ordinary.

    I returned home to an email, subject line "Susan's devastating news", sharing that one of the woman I spent the weekend with, in celebration of Val's 60th birthday, returned home to discover her partner had died, suddenly, unexpectedly, devastatingly in her absence. As Susan had recently become a certified yoga teacher, I did some stretches in her honor and ended WoC on my cushion, holding both Susan and her husband Dick in awareness, sending blessings for their respective transitions. I then went downstairs and hugged my own delightfully alive and marvelously huggable husband.

    1. Thank you for sharing the "miraculous ordinary," from treating yourself to extra morning sleep, to cuddling with your husband, to inattentiveness on your morning walk, to remembering words of wisdom from your friend Val, to allowing what was, miraculously, to honoring Susan, to sending blessings for the respective transitions of both Susan and her husband Dick, to hugging your marvelous husband. What a rich and full experience!

      I appreciate your honesty in sharing your feelings of being dull, disengaged and disappointed, and your courage in "allowing what was." It is no small feat to be aware of ~ and in the next instance to let go of ~ "the push to perform." What a WoC you were on! Thank you, again, and Namaste.