Nature’s Circle of Comfort

Seeing these rounded hay bales in expansive green fields began to stir something deep within a few years ago that felt strangely comforting. 11-2-18 004 hay bales

I hadn’t observed this prior to practicing Qigong where I first felt a gentle, circular energy flowing between my hands.  The movements soon enriched my gardening activities and evolved my thinking about continued life which led me to the Tao and a spiraled understanding of nature and our connectivity to the universe.images

Yin-yang‘s circular energy symbolizes life’s continuum and oneness; that nothing is 100% black or white, right or wrong; we need one to have the other.  Hours accelerate around the clock transforming day to night through the calendar of winter to spring, summer to autumn, season to season, year to year, era after era, wrinkled newborn to withered senior.  This energy of oneness incorporates ourselves, others and the universe.

It is said that with Qigong (or Tai Chi) practice, you begin to view all of life as part of this circle. I have and am grateful for it.  I see the circular trees, the ever lasting round sun and moon, the flowers that know to return year after year, the rounded hay bales at harvest.  I use to fear death as a finality of life.  But Qigong, gardening, and being in nature have taught me otherwise.  This freedom from despair over my eventual death or that of loved ones is healing.  Perhaps that is why the hay bales are like Mother Nature’s hugs, offering a soothing kinship with nature and all that is around me.

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Good Morning Mother Nature

One of my favorite morning activities is walking through the garden discovering what’s bloomed then cutting a basket full of flowers to become a bouquet.  Focusing solely on colors, textures and scents quiets my mind while the warming sun and cooling breeze brushing my skin soothes my HSP spirit.

Mother Nature offers this gentle good morning to anyone taking time to appreciate her splendid gifts.  Try meditating while creating a morning bouquet and see how you feel.  Refreshed?  Focused?  Rewarded?  At peace?  Grateful?

 

A bit overly ambitious this morning, I now have three bouquets to grace my kitchen, bathroom and bedroom.   How I love this time of year!

 

 

A garden then and now…

No surprise to me, this inspirational sentiment about a garden’s virtues.  What is surprising though, is that it was written by the Persian poet Saadi who lived more than 700 years ago.  Can you imagine the beauty he beheld then, before industry dominated our planet?  If I find a garden breathtaking now, I wonder what it was like for Saadi to see?  Could it have been even more beautiful…more uplifting, more astonishing than the way it fills my heart now?

 

Get a Universal Hug!

World Tai Chi & Qigong Day sat on my bucket list for several years.  With no events offered in my small, semi-rural community, I made up my mind last year to drive 1.5 hours to participate.  The powerful group energy felt like a profoundly calming universal hug, not to mention the good people I met and now have the pleasure of studying the Tao with.   Yes, I make the 3 hour roundtrip drive to do this monthly but it brings me so much pleasure it’s a worthy investment.  Now, World Tai Chi & Qigong Day is an annual must do event for me.  (FYI, it’s always the last Saturday in April at 10AM local time.)

As an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person),  safeguarding my own peace and serenity (aka well-being) is critical for me.  Detaching from the bombardment of frenetic and frantic energy through sensationalized “news” while staying engaged with humans and the environment is key, and I’m meeting numerous others with similar observations.  Like the waitress who sadly said, “I’m serving more and more families who come in and sit glued to their phones rather than talk to each other.  It doesn’t make sense!”  Or the fellow concert goer who high-fived me after first responding in shock, “You did what?!  I’d like to give up this thing too and get my life back.”

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For the record, I recognize some value in having technology like GPS or locating a restaurant in an unfamiliar city, but it’s not worth the expense to me — financially, mentally or emotionally. I just don’t need technology. My life M.O. has changed to “discarding” rather than “adding” non-essentials. I value my time more. I see how easily I could become addicted. And I see the stress — whether to the user or those around them — from constantly pinging phones interrupting each moment, deteriorating eye contact and banishing personal interaction. I see others trying to remedy their lives after their electronic financial accounts were hacked… What I don’t see is the value of turning my life over to technology.

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Photo by Seth Macey on Unsplash

But anyway, the point of this post is to encourage you to try World Tai Chi & Qigong Day if you haven’t already.  Whether you are or aren’t engaged with technology, Tai Chi and Qigong are certain to bring a calmness into your life.  And couldn’t we all use that these days?

Visit this site to find an event near you:  http://www.worldtaichiday.org 

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Skin Sensation Meditation

In the same vein as my last post, I’ve begun trying different types of meditation and I’ve had a delightful experience I’d like to share with you:

Remember that just one minute of meditation can do you good?  Well, during my morning shower, I keyed in to how the natural boar bristles of the body brush felt on my skin — down my arms, sides, thighs, calves…across my back and down the other side.  How the hot water soothed my shoulders…and then the silky liquid soap running from my palm through fingers to become foamy lather.  For these brief moments, all I focused on was the pleasant sensation on my skin.

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This experience reminded me of a practice I’d forgotten – dry brushing (aka Garshana).  Besides the obvious benefit of exfoliating the skin, dry brushing has been used for centuries to increase energy, blood flow, circulation and immunity.  It is done before showering and in a particular circular, stroking, upward pattern.

While traditional meditation clears the mind, body brushing clears toxins from the skin.  So, why not do both at the same time and get a double bonus from one effort?

Hope you’ll try it and let me know what you think.sponge-2541251_1280 Loofah Heart

Busy Body Meditations

You hear a lot about the benefits of meditation these days but that incessant mental chatter is reluctant to give up center stage.  Foregoing a lobotomy, what is one to do?

Sitting cross-legged on a cushion to meditate was as agonizing for me as soaking in a hot bath.  (I can’t wait ’til it’s over.)  Same for sitting straight with hands on my thighs — even if it’s my favorite chair.  Someone gave me a book on transcendental meditation but I got through maybe a third of it (at best).  The standard practice of focusing on the breath doesn’t hold my focus.

A spiritual guide who entered my life like an angel, eased my anxiety over not being able to meditate.  (Counterproductive like rushing to yoga class.) “You know, you don’t have to sit in a lotus pose or chant to meditate,” he said.  “Anytime you’re solely focused in the moment, it’s meditation.  Like when you’re gardening or acutely aware of those bluest of blue skies.”  He was talking about mindful meditation.

Somewhere in all of this I discovered hand drumming and before I knew it, I became a regular at the twice-monthly sessions at the health food store.  Drumming for 3 hours straight felt like only minutes passed. (Talk about transcendental!)  I experienced drumming’s healing effects by osmosis and later learned it’s gaining popularity for treating various health conditions (high blood pressure, cancer, stress, Parkinson’s, depression, etc.  For me, it was chronic fatigue).  See drumming for mindfulness.

One of the drummers showed me a movement meditation.  Focusing solely on the fluid movements resonated with me like when I practice morning Qigong.  I don’t drum in the morning for obvious reasons and prefer the energy of a diverse drum circle anyway.

Can you feel the calming energy in her sweeping movements?  You can feel this way too.  Go ahead. Try it. No one’s watching.

Still, there are days when my to-do list wins out and sets me in high gear before I’ve practiced self-care.  More recently, I’ve heard that beginning the day with even one minute of meditation is beneficial.  One minute?  Really?  I can do that. 

So, when I came across this post on sound meditation from a blogger who also has difficulty quieting her mind, I thought I’d try it.   I simply focused solely on the sounds around me as they appeared:  a cardinal flitting from the feeder to my window screen, another bird chirping in the distance, a whooshing car…rain on the roof, on the glass, through the gutter…the hum of the refrigerator…a creaking board.  This worked beautifully to ward off my noisy taskmaster.  And as my thoughts attempted to wander in wonder of what type of bird I heard, it was easier to gently pull back and simply — focus — on the sound — simply — as sound.

No longer am I stressed that I can’t meditate in the usually depicted forms.  Different strokes for different folks you know.  The key is finding what resonates for you.  If you have trouble quieting mental chatter, you might want to try sound or movement meditation.  I’d love to hear your experience — we’re all in this together.

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“Meditation:  when the space between your thoughts becomes greater than the thoughts between your spaces.” — Alan Cohen