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And this is the place where I stand. And this is the world where I stand. And this is the universe where I stand.
And I breathe. And I breathe. And I belong. And I love. And I long. And I grieve. And I desire. And I remember. And I greet again. And again.
And this is the place where we stand. And this is the world where we stand. And this is the universe where we stand.
And we greet each other. And we greet God in each other. And we greet again. And again.
As a writer, I am often looking for the “right” word. Sometimes, I am looking for any word. It is the blank page that can either become my most meditative or dreaded moment. I am known to type notes on my iPhone, scrawl words on the back of envelopes, or fill journals (dozens of them) with meditations and ideas. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing. I may not always be poetic or even grammatically correct, but the joy of writing has always superseded being a perfect writer.
When I feel stuck with writing, I read more, meditate more, and spend time in nature. I try to let go of frustration of not writing and open to what is available as my writing teacher. As my cousin in England recently wrote to me after I expressed my experience of feeling stalled in my writing:
Sometimes the river is full.
Sometimes the river runs low.
But the river is still there.
Everything has its season.
She concluded with, “Don’t give up. Keep going with your writing.”
We don’t always know who we touch with our words. So, I am going to keep writing, keep scrawling, and keep dreaming.
What keeps you going? Where do you turn when the river seems low?
Where does our courage come from? How is it that even when we are scared, we do things afraid?
In thinking about courage, I dug deep into the birthing of my own courageous experiences. I noticed that I had many courageous moments, and at times, and just as equally, moments when I held back from being brave. What I discovered was:
Not only am I inherently courageous – I tap into my courageous self in order to connect to everything that really matters.
Courage is the doorway that opens up to other rooms in my life. I need all these rooms to step fully into my life. Others rooms that open up once I tap into courage are:
Curiosity, Connection, Compassion, and Creativity.
Courage is needed to cultivate all of these qualities. These qualities are the antidote to fear, anger, impatience, and apathy. I noticed that when I am courageous, I’m often afraid in the exact same moment.
Who are you when you are feeling courageous and who are you becoming?
When we connect to peace and happiness, we can discover Universal Love and Universal Compassion. We need to make the decision to go there – go to what brings us peace and happiness.
Take a few moments, and just let go and take some time to focus on what generates joy in our life. Notice that when we focus on joy, peace arises naturally. As my Buddhist teacher, Kadam Morten says, “Peace is the nature of our mind. When we pay attention to peace, it expands.” My teacher will often recommend that we hang out with our peaceful mind.
Personally, when I sit in meditation, I am reminded of my peaceful nature or my Buddha-nature. I can let go of delusions – of self-grasping and ignorance. When I open my eyes, the work of remembering that peace within continues and I must make the decision to go to the peaceful places within myself. As Kadam Morten says, “I can have a heart pervaded by peace, joy, and compassion.” He challenges us to wish for enlightenment for all loving beings without exception (bodhichitta – enlightened mind). It is a practice I am working on daily.
As Kadam Morten often says, “It’s audacious to identify with your Buddha-nature.” The idea of striving for enlightenment for the benefit of all as a way of being can feel too much. So, we start with ourselves. We carry love in our hearts as a way of being. The sun doesn’t think about radiating light – it just does it. We don’t have to think about radiating light – we can just be light. We can transform situations into peace and fuel the path to enlightenment.
We can be audacious and identify with our Buddha-nature.
I choose to focus on a word or theme that will represent an upcoming year. Sometimes the word or theme comes easily and get a sense of the New Year will bring. Or I get a string feeling of what I am being called towards experiences and living.
2017 was a little different. I had a sense of what I wanted for the New Year, but couldn’t quite name it. The word adventure kept coming and yet it wasn’t encompassing the totality of the energy I was feeling. It was more than experiencing adventure in 2017; it was more like the energy, spirit, and wisdom that comes from adventures.
While on a road trip, I started playing with the word adventure. As I expressed my stream of consciousness of words around adventure, I found myself smiling at the feeling of all the words. I thought about experiences and adventures on a deeper level.
The word came effortlessly flowing in and out. Verve is all about vigor and spirit or enthusiasm. It’s what a friend might call “a happening.”
Verve is more of an experience or energy difficult to describe in words; it is felt.
Thank you to everyone who participated in sharing their word or theme for 2017. Many amazing words and themes have been shared so far, including Hope, Engaged, Productivity, Cure, Mets, Wellness, Momentum, Contract, Release, Focus, Trust, Ease, Conscious, Diligent, Onward, Action, Hope (again), Declutter, Integration, Faith, Open, and Swagger.
And you? What is your word, focus, them for the New Year?
How will you celebrate the light in the darkness?
As winter draws near, it is a time of going inward. The winter season allows us to align with a slower pace. In the depths of winter, when the bears hibernate, trees put their energy deep into their roots, and many of us dive deeper into the dream world, it is a natural time to retreat.
As we go inward, let us notice the beauty and tranquility of winter. Let us celebrate the light within that is always available. Let us embrace the opportunity for deep rest and integration that winter provides.
How will you keep the candle lit inside yourself this winter?
Spend a few minutes enjoying meditating on relaxation. Notice what happens when you take time to really breathe in and breathe out. Spend five minutes tuning into your mind and body – relaxing and welcoming more inner wisdom. Let go of the “busyness” that normally runs your life and make time for you. From that place, you can give more fully and with more attention. When you let go, you make space for more joy, more peace, more compassion, and more love to enter. Enjoy this meditation with Mary Anne Flanagan, Toning the OM. This was filmed at Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx.