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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Attention Deficit

A few days ago, I was beginning the day with Qigong in a southeasterly room — the veggie/herb garden outside the french doors to the left, a glorious view of summer flowers (albeit wet from the rain) through the window straight ahead.  (Sadly, this summer’s extreme weather has escorted my morning Qigong practice indoors.)  Sweeping my arms up and raising my head, I stopped in disbelief.  How could I have done this? 

My indoor hibiscus plant drooped over, its leaves curled and wilted.   What in the world happened?  I just watered it a week ago.  Well, I think it was a week ago.   I know this hibiscus is temperamental, always needing more water and more frequently for it to show it’s clown-red blooms.  But, it looked so bad I didn’t know if it could be revived.  I look at the other plants lined up next to it — the lily is limp.  The begonias too.  Even the Christmas Cactus feels spongy.  Oh… 

I do not “over-nurture” my plants as some others do.  We’ve had an understanding for the last 30 or so years…I give them water upon request and they flourish.  Have they all been asking and I haven’t heard?

We’ve had an unusual summer of unbearably high humidity or heavy rain.  I thought my  “indoor” houseplants would be unaffected.  (Thankfully, after giving each of them a life restoring drink, I am relieved the hibiscus is not dying from wilt disease.) 

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You would never know of their apparent — but honestly unintentional — neglect.)

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Still, I ponder this “wake-up” call of nature trying to tell me something.

This spring, not long after having major surgery, a cardinal began flying into our windows.  My Animal Speak book suggested he was warning me to pay more attention to my health and well-being.  So, I added Tai Chi classes several times a week, began eating more berries and nuts, and learning how to live more effectively as an HSP.   I was already walking 3 miles with some hefty inclines a few times each week but the weather put a (hopefully temporary) damper on that too.

It’s now mid-summer and we’re surprised the cardinal is not dead.  He’s relentless — flying into windows on both sides of our house — no matter what we’ve used to detract him.  The impact of his body crashing against the glass wakes me most mornings.   What is he trying to tell me?  Did he have to employ the wilted hibiscus to get my attention?

 

 

“Flexibility”

I begin each day picking a word for guidance out of the cobalt blue glass container.   Just a little something to set my intention for the day before the mental chatter of the “TO DO list” dictates my time and ultimately my mood.  Today, the message is flexibility.  “Good choice, I think to myself already knowing that the weeds are growing as well as the tomatoes and basil…that my border collie is waiting for her morning Frisbee…the phone doesn’t stop ringing, e-mails are mounting, the grass needs to be cut, and I’m trying to get in a daily walk.  Oh yeah, did I say I have responsibilities of a job to pay the bills too?  I’m guessing you can relate to this and your list is probably even longer.

Someone suggested placing no more than 5 items a day on my To Do list.  That’s never seemed possible yet yesterday’s unfinished tasks glare at me rather than offer a cheery “Good Morning.”  Intellectually, I know this sets me up for feeling unaccomplished and sometimes overwhelmed.   (Being an HSP, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.)

My MO is tackling a project and staying with it til the end (while feeling guilty that other tasks wait for attention) but as Dr. Phil says, “How’s that workin’ for ya?”  Sometimes yes.  Sometimes no.  Probably no, more often than not.  Living with a workaholic does not support my efforts for balance and flexibility yet underscores the importance of it.   (I learned that the hard way years ago but that’s another story for another time.) For now, I need to take small bits at a time.  Weed one section of the garden, mow one acre, respond to e-mail only at designated times of the day.  Reprioritize as necessary.  Go with the flow.  Be flexible.

Even the word flexible seems to have a nice bend to it and immediately conjures up an image from a quote I read long ago:

Baum_Sardinien Bending Tree

“…A tree that cannot bend will crack in the wind…”  – Lao Tzu

To not be flexible is a death of sorts.  If I first make time for stillness (meditation),  the day will gently unfold, rather than feeling like I’m tackling each task like a football pro.  Again, I am reminded of Lao Tzu’s wisdom:

“To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.          Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.

He wrote this in the 6th century B.C.!  Just think about that.  It was long before technology, computers, planes, cars, etc., but the population was fraught with worry and running around frantically even in those times.  Perhaps these are simply life lessons for being human. 

Lao Tzu’s sentiment has appeared before me a few times this week. No surprise.  Thank you, Universe.  Yes, everything will happen as it’s meant to be, on its own schedule.  Gardening has taught me that.  Sometimes I need a reminder.  I’m human.  Now, I’m going to take a deep breath and do some Qigong in the garden with my border collie then let the day unfold as it will…

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The Flow

I am better off, my days are better off when I begin in the flow of Qigong.  Years ago I practiced Svaroopa Yoga.  Its deep relaxation served me well.  But, then I tried Qigong and my life really started to change.  I love the cyclical flow of energy — be it in my environment or person.  This morning practice is my wake-up — of energy and to life.  Naturally progressing to readings from the Tao, my life transformed into a new philosophy of living, thinking and breathing.  Being a gardener, the Tao deepens my connection to nature which has deepened my understanding of life.

“Tao is the process of nature by which all things change and which is to be followed for a life of harmony” so Merriam-Webster says.

If you are unfamiliar with Qigong I encourage you to sign up for the free monthly Qi Talks from the National Qigong Association.  Their site is full of useful information like detailing what Qigong is, determining your energy composition, finding a practitioner who can teach you the movements, etc.  And if there is no one in your locale, you can always try a DVD or visit YouTube.  My favorite DVDs are Daisy Lee-Garripoli ‘s Radiant Lotus Qigong   She also has videos on YouTube.

Like Yin and Yang, I find these practices produce a more gentle yet exuberant way of living life.  Do you practice Qigong or the Tao?  I’d love to hear your experience and how it’s influenced your life.

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