Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Ending Our Arguments with Reality

Here's a question for contemplation: What aspect of reality do you argue with? I was diagnosed with a chronic illness (ME/CFS/FM) 35 years ago. Sometimes it involves pain. At other times, there is little pain but a prostrating exhaustion. Really- getting out of bed and walking five steps can take an hour or more. 

Here's what I've noticed: I find it easier to cope with pain, particularly acute pain that renders me immobile, than I do exhaustion. 

When I realized this, I started to pay attention, mostly out of curiosity. With pain I adjust, adapt, focus on my breath, take meds that sometimes help and cancel other commitments. I don't argue with pain. 

But I argue with exhaustion. I push. I limp along when I should be lying down. I quibble with the "reality" of exhaustion. The inevitable outcome of this is more pain- and then I can surrender. 

Why? Why this resistance to, this argument with exhaustion? 

We argue with the aspects of reality that we've learned (often unconsciously) to see as somehow morally inferior to other aspects. My very Protestant-work-ethic-driven family didn't make much room for human frailty in any form that interfered with our ability to work. Or as my mother has put it every time we've spoken over thirty-five years: "What's that thing you claim you have to get out of keeping your house the way you know you should?" 

In my birth family pain was acceptable (albeit something that "should not" stop you for long) but exhaustion was weakness, a moral failing, an illusion, a con, evidence of laziness. 

This arguing with reality is largely unconscious, because a lot of the values we have were implicitly taught. For now, I'm just noticing and being with my argument with exhaustion when it arises. There are, of course, conditions we can change. But efforts to do so are more likely to be successful if we start by seeing and accepting what is. And sometimes what is, is beyond our control. When that's the case, arguing with any aspect of the present moment robs us of joy, ~Oriah

When I saw this photo from Karen Davis at Open Door Dreaming, I mentally titled it, "Gentle Morning." Gentleness is the quality I try to bring to myself when I catch myself arguing with reality, because yelling at the aspect that feels compelled to argue just pushes it into the unconscious where it can mutter endlessly and stop me from accepting the gift of the day- even a day lived horizontally. :-)



Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Finding Delight

This is what I am learning. How to bring more curiosity than expectation to each moment, each task, each encounter with the other. And I am repeatedly delighted by our generosity and creativity, and in awe of how grace moves in our shared life. ~Oriah
Spectacular photo by Karen Davis from Open Door Dreaming.


Friday, November 3, 2017

When The Great Grief Cry Is Answered

Sometimes we feel abandoned, bereft, alone in a way that can paralyze or send us frantically running in circles. If we believe a sacred Presence is always with us, but we are experiencing a heart-aching loneliness, we can add to our suffering with self-blame and deep shame. Last weekend, in the midst of shared prayers, words arose that surprised me. I found myself asking for forgiveness for feeling (in the last years of my marriage) that God had abandoned me. At the time the experience had left me drowning in a sea of sorrow, and my shame had rendered me silent. The Presence that had always been there, the Sacred Mystery that had gotten me through a tumultuous childhood- I simply could not find it, could not feel it. I was lost. And then, this poem found me, and I used it as a prayer. I could not, with my will, re-establish my experience of that which I believed was still with and within me, but my "grief cry" was heard. And in a grace-filled moment I experienced, once again, being held in the arms of infinite Love. My relief was so great it left me trembling and filled with gratitude. ~Oriah Pushing Through It’s possible I am pushing through solid rock in flintlike layers, as the ore lies, alone; I am such a long way in I see no way through, and no space: everything is close to my face, and everything close to my face is stone. I don’t have much knowledge yet in grief so this massive darkness makes me small. You be the master: make yourself fierce, break in: then your great transforming will happen to me, and my great grief cry will happen to you. by Rainer Maria Rilke (Translated by Robert Bly) As in this photo by Karen Davis at Open Door Dreaming, there is incredible beauty in the moment when the darkness gives way to the searing beauty of dawn.


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

In Awe of Our Humanness

Today, I am in awe of the human beings who allow me to accompany them on a small part of their journey. Many of them I will never see in person- we meet via phone or skype- but every single one teaches me something about human courage, resilience, and tenderness. We are very small, and brief and biodegradable- but our capacity to learn, to love, to be kind and generous and unafraid even after injury, even in the face of the unknowable, takes my breath away, deepens my faith that on some profound level of being, all is well and all will be well. What we do matters- although rarely in the way we think it does when fear has us by the throat and we are desperately trying to assert control over inner and outer worlds. But our willingness. . . our ability to get up after the night of grief and despair. . . to take another breath when we feel broken. . . is met and supported by something sacred and larger of which we are made. I am humbled that these ordinary extraordinary human beings let me walk awhile with them. ~Oriah I went looking for pic that reflects the awe I am feeling and this came up- another beauty from Karen Davis at Open Door Dreaming.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Jack-Hammering Practice

Had a late start this morning and was moving slowly. Five minutes into my meditation practice the jackhammering on my building started, right above my head. (Honestly, it felt they were jackhammering in my head!) My ear plugs and noise-cancelling headphones make little difference as the vibration moves through the concrete and into my bones.
Construction work is a lot like life: largely unpredictable and beyond my control.
So, I decided to see what it would be like to meditate while they were jackhammering. I won't lie- it's not ideal. But as I relaxed my body where I was unconsciously (and impossibly) trying to pull away from or resist the noise, I realized I could still be aware of my breath, could quiet my inner protests, could be with what is in this moment.
As I finished my meditation I thought about people in California and Puerto Rico dealing with fires and floods, and focused on sending prayers that they may feel held in love. And those prayers slid into prayers of gratitude for my home, and prayers for the construction workers using the jackhammers (can you imagine what that kind of work does to the human body?)
And the jackhammering continues.
I will go out today to seek a quiet place to do some writing. But I am grateful for this morning. Life will have its way with us. Sometimes we can and need to create changes. And sometimes we have to continue with what sustains us, even when conditions are not ideal. ~Oriah
This is the photo Karen Davis posted today at Open Door Dreaming. Good to remember that even when there is disruption in one place, there is quiet beauty in another.


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Loving What We Do

Woke up this morning with the sound of a woman's voice following me up out of dreams. She said- "Do something you love today. . . . or love something you do. This feeds the soul of the world."

I have been sitting with these words as I see photos of some homes burnt to the ground in California and others flooded with water and leveled by wind in Puerto Rico. I will pray for those impacted, and send resources to help.

And I will do something I love today- I will love something I do- which is to say, I will bring my full attention to the moment and savor the sweetness of reading or writing or walking in the park.

Individually we are small, and brief, and highly biodegradable. Humanity's strength has always been found in community. There are people scrambling to evacuate, or find clean drinking water, or fight a blazing fire today. I can send prayers and monetary help, and I can participate in communal action to prepare for and prevent these tragedies where possible.

The voice in the dream suggests something more- suggests that moments of loving what we are doing, tasting the sweetness of this day, offers something to the collective consciousness, feeds the soul of the world that somewhere, every day, faces challenges. It seems like a small thing to ask. And there really is no down side to loving what we do- although I admit, it might make us question some of what we do on any given day.

I suppose you could call consciously loving the moment a prayer, a way to add a drop of that which sustains us all to the collective consciousness we share. ~Oriah

Came across this photo from Karen Davis at Open Door Dreaming. Her eye for beauty, ability to photograph it and willingness to share it with us is just one way to add to loving the world.


Friday, September 29, 2017

A Little Solitude

A quiet, steady rain this morning - seems to mute all movement and sounds of the city. The air is cool and the light is soft beneath the dove-grey sky. It all seems to be an invitation to stillness, slow movement, and quiet contemplation.

I live alone, and sometimes my health dictates that I do not see others for many days. I have come to love the solitude- the way it encourages me to be honest with myself about my own humanness, to stop outrunning the things about myself or the world that make me uncomfortable.

I think I was attracted to a shamanic tradition because it involved periods of time alone in the wilderness fasting and praying.

As a child solitude was hard to find. My eagle-eyed mother kept close scrutiny on what I was "up to." But at night and in the early morning hours I would revel in the darkness and have what I thought of as conversations with God.

Whatever you call that which is larger than yourself, solitude and empty time are needed if we are to hear that which reminds us of what we are, why we are here, and how deeply we belong. The world will go on even if we unplug for an hour or a day or longer. And if the flood waters are rising (literally or metaphorically) our neighbours will knock on our door and let us know if there is something that truly must be done right now.

I am not advocating abandoning the world. Such a thing is not possible- we are the world and the world is us and so much more. But a little stillness, a turning inward, a quieting of the inner and outer voices before or after all the tasks that hold life and limb together, might just make it easier for us to meet whatever comes with an open heart.

May we each find the moments of solitude and stillness that we need. ~Oriah

I cannot always get down to the lake here in Toronto, but the photos from Karen Davis at Open Door Dreaming always make me pause and slow down to take in the beauty.