The Elements as Allies — hmm, I wondered what I was getting into this week when serendipitously participating in this formal discussion. Uncertain where this topic would lead, my curiosity surfed the wave of energy surging through my life lately. Opening commentary — how critical Mother Nature’s elements are to our life force. Earth, fire, water, air — are our life force. I was on board. ‘Sounds like a simple natural law but sadly forsaken. (To be continued…perhaps on Earth Day.)
We meditated on merging with water. I could see an all-encompassing bluest of blue sea, feel its massaging push and pull, and the color, that exquisitely pure turquoise that mesmerizes my eyes and pierces my soul. Quickly, I felt its far reaching capacity had no beginning or end, that each body of water — oceans, seas, bays, rivers, streams merge with each other until its vastness becomes one. There is no end. It is no different in humanity (or life). Each may appear different or separate but whether warmed in daylight sun or glistening in dazzling moonlight, both are beautiful. Both are one.
OriginaL Image by Nici Keil from Pixabay
Photo by engin akyurt from Pixabay
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
Mother Nature and the Tao teach me “oneness” — as seasons merge from one into the other ortaijitu depicts two opposing yet complementary halves not as two halves, but as one.
Learning the group’s discussion was based on Sandra Ingerman‘s work with strong ties to hand drumming and reconnecting with nature, was no surprise her information found its way to me. There is no doubt in my mind that all paths I’ve traveled thus far led me here.
Likewise, the natural beauty of the Turks & Caicos has allured me for years.
When many people see photos of the beaches and lagoons of the Turks and Caicos, they believe that the water in the images must have been edited. In actuality the ocean is typically far more vivid when seen in person.
When finally making travel plans to this long-awaited destination, I hadn’t forecasted the trip would morph into a winter ebb, a spiritual retreat you could say. Since the bookend deaths of Bess and my brother I’ve longed for quiet solitude where I can more deeply process six months of profound change. Hopefully the magically soothing turquoise waters will fit the bill when I arrive today.
In the fascinating beauty of nature I feel the sacredness of oneness. And as with the Tao, and as with the vast oceans and seas, there is no beginning and there is no end.
Looking out my window during morning Qigong practice, I glanced up to see this intricate spider web. Amazing to view its work up close…a meditation in itself.
With Halloween approaching, I dug deeper into the curiosities of this scary holiday. I never understood Halloween‘s color combination of orange and black but now it makes more sense. Orange represents autumn, and black signifies death (of summer). I realize, as in how I choose to view life’s transition to death, that this holiday does not have to evoke fear as popularly promulgated.
And those spiders serving as long time mascots for Halloween? There’s a pleasant tale indicating they are the spirit of a loved one watching over you. How befitting in my summer of bereavement, and a more pleasant thought than frightful ghosts and goblins.
Who knew a simple spider web would give new meaning to Halloween for me? It’s become a holiday for recognizing life’s natural transition rather than scaring me to death.
Long ago I relinquished worrying that I “wasn’t meditating right.” A natural nonconformist, my meditation approach expanded from the traditional lotus pose (ouch) to alternatives that work for me — like fixating on the moment, hand drumming, movement meditation, even my morning Qigong practice where I more easily stay focused on the swirls of circular energy than the rhythm of my breath.
Recently, through another fellow blogger who shares some of the most mesmerizingphotographs of color and texture, I learned of a woman who meditates (and journals) through her art. I hadn’t heard of this concept before but proffer it as yet another avenue for reaching that quiet space within.
Raised in an anxiety-ridden home, it was stressful to live in the “now.” Far better to prepare for “what’s next,” I thought, even with its own undercurrent of anxiety.
A friend recently invited me to a year-long meditation but the voluminous information and instant marketing hype quickly drove me away. Unsettling. Like when I attempted meditation years ago in the standard seated position. Arduous. As soaking in a tub. Has this happened to you? Meditation offers many benefits but feeling stressed is not the goal.
Far more agreeable to me, are movement meditations such as hand drumming, walking, or being in the moment with Mother Nature. Fixed on berry picking, the smell of sun-ripening tomatoes and basil brushing my arm, or the infinite colors and textures of nature are far more relaxing and in-the-moment experiences for me.
One size doesn’t fit all. In many things, but meditation too. Giving myself permission to discover what works for me is key. Don’t know where to begin? Try leaving the cell phone behind and taking a walk outside. You may be pleasantly surprised by the calm in connecting with Mother Nature.
Worlds Away Savoring outdoor time during my recent reprieve in the temperate Caribbean, I hoped the warmth would cradle me through another 72 icy winter days back home. Mother Nature’s wizardry transformed the oppressive grey I left behind into sparkling and vibrant blue, a welcome relief in this world that seemed worlds away.
Lounging on the balcony at night with vast stars washing over me, I felt an incredible sense of wonder. This feeling continued through daytime gazing on a tryst of blues from sea to sky, the all-embracing horizon suggesting I was worlds away. And in some aspects, I was.
The Andromeda galaxy at 2.6 million light-years from Earth is visible with the naked eye. With one light-year equaling nearly six trillion miles, I find this almost incomprehensible — that I could indeed be seeing a world trillions of miles away. Viewing the horizon at three to four-and-a-half miles — or even 30 miles at night, dwarfs in comparison. But when considering that mileage in terms of traveling from my hometown to the next one, I’m still awash in wonder.
Waleba mengi komenzi genyanza Awe-inspired, I pondered how long have humans contemplated the sea, the sky, the vastness to a place far beyond imagination? My search revealed this Longo (Tanzanian) proverb: Waleba mengi komenzi genyanza. Translated into English it means: “The water of the sea is only to be contemplated.” A worthy proverb and so apropos to the universal social issues of today, but not exactly the information I was seeking.
Many philosophers, however, regard the universe in similar terms of human insignificance. They feel loneliness and worry. I felt none of that. Completely opposite, actually.
The Whole Package Viewing vastness soothes me — whether ocean, sky, stretches of white sand, even fields of green grass, rolling hills, and mountain ranges at home. Their expanse is an aspect of a power greater than ourselves, offering an infinite abundance of support, a glint of life everlasting.
A blanket of peace and calm is only a blink away. Let Mother Nature freely wrap herself around you. Go outside and wander in wonderment.
“Exploration is in our nature. We began as wanderers, and we are wanderers still. We have lingered long enough on the shores of the cosmic ocean. We are ready at last to set sail for the stars.” — Carl Sagan in Cosmos
Seeing these rounded hay bales in expansive green fields began to stir something deep within a few years ago that felt strangely comforting.
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.
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.
“What will people think if they see a mature woman on them?”
“Do you really think someone is going to arrest me?”
And so the dialogue went between my inner critic and the lure of a childhood thrill when seeing a swing set in a new neighborhood last Sunday afternoon. Quickly, it reminded me of this photo (appearing in my last post) and my carefree, youthful feelings of riding as high as I could on the swings.
Looking around to see if any neighbors were out — no one was, I walked up the hill toward the swings, paying attention for any signs indicating “adults not allowed.” The trodden, bare ground under each of the six swings stared up at me. Oh, yes, I remember now — stomping down the grass, pounding to push-off and ride higher and higher.
I sat down. Good, the swings can hold me. (I’m not overweight, but I’m not a slight child either.) I began to push-off. Again and again. Higher and higher. Soon my hair blew freely behind me, like the woman in the photo, cooling the perspiration off the back of my neck from a hearty walk through this new neighborhood. Gosh this felt good. Exhilarating, like when I was a kid.
As previously mentioned (Busy Body Meditations), I do better with movement meditation than attempting to force myself to sit still. Swinging on those swings was an in-the-moment, mindfulness meditation for me, unleashing pure light-heartedness.
Is there an activity you loved as a child but seems long forgotten? Have you given yourself permission to feel the thrill once more? Go ahead, tickle yourself with that sense of delight and see how much lighter you’ll feel.
Every now and then my passion for gardening and appreciating nature is punctuated by technology’s increasing thirst to control our lives. To me, these cold and calculating ways are the antithesis to nature’s infinite beauty and serenity. That is why this topic pops up on my blog now and then (no pun intended).
I bumped into an old friend recently who said her eldest child is retired (at age 35). After making and investing his millions as a technological entrepreneur, he and his wife now live in an Airstream, traveling cross-country to hike and explore nature’s magnificence. “He meditates quite a bit,” she added.
This gave me hope that those so addicted to devices will realize the hours they’ve wasted not living real life, or freedoms they’ve willingly discarded by allowing technology to think for them.
My concerns about the ethical crises in technology were confirmed by best-selling author Yuval Noah Harari, and executive director of the Center for Humane Technology, Tristan Harris who explained how people, corporations and governments are using technology to hack human beings. (Harris previously studied the ethics of human persuasion at Google.)
In their When Tech Knows You Better than You Know Yourself interview, these philosophers raised the question: “Whose best interests should technology be serving — individuals or corporations? Should apps be as successful (and profitable) as possible which equates to addiction, loneliness, alienation, social comparison…”
“There’s a reason why solitary confinement is the worst punishment we give human beings. And we have technology that’s basically maximizing isolation because it needs to maximize the time we stay on the screen,”Harris said.
Think about that. Really let it sink in. So many have imprisoned themselves with technology. Remember, a prior post on my friend whose brother is addicted to gaming and barely leaves his room anymore?
Instead, I discuss the Tao and hand drum with friends, attend Tai Chi classes, concerts, live theatre and art exhibits. At home I’m nurturing flower and veggie gardens while playing with my beloved border collie or practicing Qigong. Experimenting in the kitchen and reading a great library book enhance my time. Yes, I love those page turners (literally and otherwise)!
I was thrilled to find Blogtasticfood.com where Nick’s mission is to “post super awesome recipes and get peoples butts in the kitchen.” I love it. Real cooking feels (and tastes) wholesome and nourishing to me. I’d much prefer devoting my time to creating a delicious meal than being consumed by social media, texting or the internet (while eating packaged preservative-laden processed foods). Tactile, personal connections mean more to me than an addictive device.
Frankly, I don’t want Amazon to know right before my light bulbs burn out (so they can sell me more). And I don’t want them to deliver groceries to my door so that I can isolate, and not get any fresh air, exercise, or interaction with my external environment. “Don’t use it, you lose it,” still rings true.
However, as much as it sounds like I detest technology, I don’t. It’s the addictive aspects and loss of privacy and relationships that concern me. I agree with Harari that, “The system in itself can do amazing things for us. We just need to turn it around, that it serves our interests, whatever that is and not the interests of the corporation or the government.” In that regard I can understand Amazon delivering food to an immobile person who lives alone.
To reduce the risks of your personality being hacked, Harari suggests first getting to know yourself better and exploring your choices more deeply. Of course, someone who meditates two hours a day and doesn’t use a smartphone is less likely to be hacked than someone addicted to their device he says. Then join an organization of activists for a more powerful voice in making society more resilient and less able to be hacked.
Harari and Harris emphasize, “They’re (corporation or government) about to get to you—This is the critical moment…So run away, run a little faster.And there are many ways you can run faster, meaning getting to know yourself a bit better. Meditation is one way. And there are hundreds of techniques of meditation, different ways work with different people.
Photo by Dave Clubb on Unsplash
Photo by Ian Scargill on Unsplash
Photo by Ian Scargill on Unsplash
Photo by Ashley Batz on Unsplash
Photo by Noah Silliman on Unsplash
“You can go to therapy, you can use art, you can use sports, whatever. Whatever works for you. But it’s now becoming much more important than ever before. Protect yourself by getting to know your self.” This sounds perfectly natural to me.
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!
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?