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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Daily Prompt: Gratitude

I didn’t think much about gratitude while growing up.  Actually, I’d say I was pretty ungrateful in those years.  Raised in a dysfunctional family — although I didn’t know that’s what it was then, just that my father would rage at a moment’s notice — we often ran for our lives.  Literally.  It wasn’t until I married a man in a 12-step program that I considered the word gratitude.

While my new husband’s recovery from prescription painkillers opened the Al-Anon door for me,  I couldn’t relate to others struggling with loved ones’ active addictions because my husband already had three drug-free years when we met.  In times of angst, I turned to gardening but it couldn’t eradicate a darkness I felt deep within.  And then I found a different 12-step meeting — ACOA.  For the first time in my life I felt I belonged, and tasted true fellowship.

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Listening to others traumas from similar or worse upbringings lessened the impact of my own.  I now realized my family wasn’t the only one that didn’t look like Norman Rockwell Freedom from Want or Freedom from Fear paintings.  Feeling safe and unjudged, I unveiled the shame that overshadowed three decades of my life.  I now understood my father as a rageaholic and how this ill-affected our family.  (This is the early 1990’s before recovery became a buzzword and rehabs became multi-million dollar businesses.)

Twelve Step meetings — of any kind — frequently discuss gratitude and suggest keeping a gratitude journal to heal the spirit.  My gratitude can be as simple as I’m grateful the sun is shining, for the joy my dog gives to me, or for my eyes to see the beauty around me.  It is a daily prompt in my thoughts illuminating my heart.

A gift of the Twelve Steps is learning to live life instead of just surviving,  existing,  staying sober or stopping an addiction.  Hearing someone share, “I was so busy looking at the thorns that I didn’t see the rose,” changed my life forevermore.  I now look for gifts in unanticipated circumstances rather than see challenges as problems.   The more I became grateful, the more I’ve had to be grateful for.

A few more decades later, I’m still evolving and learning other shades of gratitude.  I’ve come to realize and feel grateful that the darkness of my youth led me to 12-step recovery.  The Twelve Steps expanded my spirituality and lessened my fears to try new things and be who I really am.  I evolved to become passionate about hand drumming which led to my interest in the Tao.  My understanding of the Tao and life grows through gardening.  Coming full circle, I more fully understand and am grateful for all the layers of my life.  As my 12-step friend once told me, “The gift is as great as the pain.”

 

 

Daily Prompt: Coincidence…

via Daily Prompt: Coincidence

…is a word I’ve replaced with synchronicity mostly after working through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way book.  Before that, I viewed coincidence in the sense that there are no coincidences, meaning God has a hand in everything.  And I’m not referring to God of any particular religion but God as in a Higher Power.

When my thinking evolved toward synchronicity, I continued to view things in a spiritual way.   Like manifesting my dreams.  I became more aware and more in tuned to the little things that were helping me along my way.

My most recent synchronistic experience relates to my lifelong dream of visiting Scotland, along with some other recent nudges.  Since practicing Qigong the last few years, my thoughts of God and the Universe are directed toward nature which has led to an interest in studying the Tao.  Participating in World Tai Chi & Qigong Day (WTCQ) has also been on my list but scheduling conflicts prevented me from taking part in this annual international event.  (It’s always held at 10AM on the last Saturday of April.)

But, this year I was free to drive an hour-and-a-half to participate in WTCQ Day with a group of seeming strangers in a lovely rolling green park dotted with blooming cherry blossoms.  (A favorite springtime site that takes my breath away.)  Imagine my delight when I heard the announcement, “We have a monthly discussion group on the Tao.  If anyone is interested please see me for details.”   Wow!  Did I hear that right?  Two dreams come true via one event.

A month or so afterward, while perusing Dr. Elaine Aron’s website for Highly Sensitive Persons (HSPs),  she discussed spiritual pilgrimages and the varieties to choose from.  Hmmm.  I began rethinking my trip to Scotland.  I never travel as a typical touristy tourist and having a loose framework of where I want to go, this concept appealed to me.

Then, when I first attended the Tao discussion meeting in July, I learned that one of their mutual friends runs sacred travel pilgrimages in Scotland.  Woo hoo!  Synchronicity at it’s finest, I’d say.  A week later I ran into a fellow yogi I hadn’t seen for a while.  “I  just got back from Scotland yesterday,” she reported.  “Already I can’t wait to go back!” She smiled and I smiled too.  Another confirmation the Universe was guiding me toward satisfying this long time desire.

Coincidence and synchronicity are mystical experiences for me.  My thinking has changed over the years from too good to be true to believe in the magic.   Awareness is the key for so many things, and particularly for unlocking the gifts of this phenomenon.  I believe synchronicity is happening all the time, I only need open my eyes and see.  Then, I open my heart in gratitude and smile wide.jongjit-pramchom-211559 cherry blossom

 

Transformation of Endings

Source: I Don’t Get It

In visiting another blog this afternoon, I was moved by the writer’s sadness and confusion of impending death and realized each of us is so different in how we think about and interpret life.

I came into this world contemplating death and vividly recall such thoughts as early as age 5. Death (separation) use to frighten me. I could not imagine being separated from the ones I love. (Note, despite my “attachment” to loved ones, I grew into an independent female.)  Oddly, the “death” of these individuals gave me a deeper understanding of “life.”  Someone told me that my suffering was because I was selfish in not wanting to let the dying go. That was hard to swallow but stepping back, I gradually understood what they meant and focused more on the moments I shared with that person or pet, rather than on the “loss.”

In my youth, I was introduced to a mix of Protestant Christianity (Presbyterian and Methodist doctrines) then investigated Buddhism, Catholicism, and Judaism. Several decades later I find myself believing in bits and pieces from all of them (aka take what you like and leave the rest). I do believe in God and that each of us may call it something different including “the Universe.”

But, it was working in the garden and being led to Taoism that transformed my fear of death to acceptance and understanding. Seeing a flower that buds, blooms, withers and dies, then returns each year gave me a concrete understanding of the cycle of life and hence, tremendous comfort.

If we are all interconnected, then why wouldn’t my life continue as it does for the flower that I cannot see during the winter but greets me each spring?

As in the photo I’ve included here…if I am not conscious enough to look beyond the winter grey, I would not notice the dwarf irises coming back to life in spring.

Reading about past life regression and end of life experiences also helped me arrive at my current view.  In 9 months, I lost 3 very important people to me — my mother, best friend of 20 some years, and spiritual guide.  In answer to my questions, a Unity minister responded that, “We cannot know another’s journey.” My resolution was that their work this time around was complete.

In the midst of processing these losses, I’ve also had a few scares with cancer.  Now, I am learning about the critical importance of our thoughts. And words. As Florence Scovel Shinn advised so many years ago, “Your word is your wand.” I try to be more conscious now in my thoughts and words…having faith answer the door when fear comes calling.  Sometimes I do better than others.  Afterall, this is reprogramming, “transforming” several decades of thinking.

More and more I have shifted my viewpoint to believe that endings are also beginnings. I heard a radio preacher one day say that death is the gateway to our transformation. Truly, I view death as not the end per se, but a transformation. I just have to have faith of where it will lead.

Gardening Grey

A garden is usually vibrant in color — even simple whites pop against lively green leaves like lilies of the valley.  But, have you noticed the greys?  Dusty miller wears yellow flowers while lamb’s ears show off pinkish-purple spikes.  There is no “all or nothing.”  Like life.  Like the Tao.

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Taijitu (symbol for yin-yang concept)

 

Look closer at that familiar symbol for yin-yang.  It is often identified as positive/negative, dark/light, female/male, etc., etc., yet in reality that is not entirely true.  There is more to it.  Like life.  Like Tao.

In my busyness, I thought this symbol meant opposites.  But, in waking up, I see the 2 small dots of opposing colors within each section.  There is no complete 50/50, black/white, one or the other.   Each has some of the other, and each needs the other to become whole.  Life, for me,  looked different then.

And the garden continues teaching me.  About life.  About Tao.  Rain can nourish or flood…beautiful flowers can produce allergens… bees can pollinate and sting!  Day turns to night, perennials bloom and die then return next year, the sun casts shadows (yin is for shade, yang is for sun).   Everything is inter-related.  Look at the white sunlight that produces the varied colors in a rainbow.  There is so much to life, so much in between; it’s not all grey.

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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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The View Beyond

Plum tree branches

heavily laden with raindrops

bend toward the ground

temporarily obstructing my view

of the garden beyond.

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Like the challenges we face

sometimes a relentless tsunami

We do not fully understand

or see the gifts

until widening our perspective.

 

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Bend, like the plum tree.

Go with the flow.

Accept.  Spring back.  Do not break.

Allgäu

Rain pummels and hydrates.

The sun shines and scalds.

Endings are beginnings.

It is the perfectly natural rhythm

of imperfect life.

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