Posts Tagged ‘peace’

Acrylic painting

I painted this picture to remind myself of the beauty that lies just beyond the darkness

Lately I’ve been feeling off, down, exhausted, sad. Usually, I’m not much of a crier, but this morning at the cottage, I wept. It’s a safe, nurturing place. No one asks me what’s wrong. No one tells me how to feel better. It’s quiet. It’s warm. There’s coffee. And sometimes I cry.

If a coaching client came to me feeling like this, what would I say? I would say, “Tell me about the sadness, tell me about the tears.”

There’s so much going on right now! Dannie’s cancer, Debbie’s death, Britain’s escalating interviews with the Army recruiters (for Special Forces, no less!) My sister-cousin is struggling with SAD. My close friends are talking about moving to Florida. My laptop won’t connect to the network, and my car is leaking antifreeze.

But the work of life goes on. Payrolls need to be processed, bills must to be paid, groceries bought, food prepared, dishes washed, rugs vacuumed. I have a full life that right now feels full of “have-to’s” instead of “want-to’s.” I paste a lame smile on my face, and when people say, “How are you doing?” I say, “Okay,” which is a bit of a stretch, but accurate enough not to be a lie. “Fine” would be a lie. “Okay” makes the cut.

The exhaustion comes from holding back the tears, I think. And from holding back the scary thoughts, from keeping my mouth shut when I want to scream, from summoning that damn smile.

At the cottage, I stop holding things back, and the tears erupt in a cloudburst, accompanied by thunder and lightning. It feels like it will rain forever. Buckets of rain. Waterfalls off the hillsides. Puddles in the streets.

But then it lets up and it feels good. It feels “sleep-after-insomnia” good … “shower-after-grubby” good … “spring-after-long-winter” good.

Gradually my ordinary life, challenges and all, feels satisfying once again, and the warming rays of gratitude begin to brighten the corners of my life.

Sometimes it just takes a good downpour to lighten the weight of the clouds, clear the air, and prepare the ground for new growth.

Oh, and that smile on my face … it’s the real thing now.

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A strand of 24 beads

“Breath Beads” – Made for me by my friend Amy Williams

My friend Amy gave me these beads when we had breakfast together a couple of days ago. She didn’t call them “prayer beads”; she mentioned using them for deep breathing and centering. So, I’m calling them “Breath Beads.” I counted them. There are 24 on the strand, not including the face bead, which doesn’t have a mouth . . . to remind me to stay silent once in a while (I made up that last bit, but it sounds good, doesn’t it?).

This morning I decided to observe the process of using the beads. I thought I might slip into a nice meditative state. Instead, I noticed my typical pattern with anything new. I immediately slipped into a nice analytical state.

I hadn’t finished my first, supposed-to-be cleansing breath when my mind hijacked the experience. “What’s the point of all this?” it demanded. Then it launched quickly into calculations: “Hmmm . . . 24 beads . . . an average of 5 seconds per breath . . . this is going to take about two minutes . . . maybe more, though, since I seem to be breathing a little more slowly than usual.”

Satisfied with the timing, it next began to notice the difference in the shapes of the beads. “This one seems too big and bulky for a peaceful process . . . this one is tiny. It could easily be missed, and that would throw off the timing. If I finish in under two minutes, I’ll know I missed one of these tiny beads. Oh, wait, I like this one; it’s got more texture than the others.” My eyes were closed, so color wasn’t part of this particular analysis. My mind did, however, begin searching for a pattern, and finding none, it went straight to judgment: “A pattern would be better . . . then I would know how far along I was . . . I would know which bead was coming next. If it were more like a rosary, I think I would like it better. It would be more predictable.”

After two minutes of this, I completed my first Breath Bead Experience. And now my mind feels satisfied that it sort of knows what to expect next time. Maybe it will settle down and let me notice more than a single breath when I try it again tomorrow morning.

Silly me to expect the first time to be anything but a Left Brained Bonanza. Oh, how well I know that little scientific mathematician inside me who is ever busy making sense of the world around her. Analyze to your heart’s content, my dear. Trust me, though, when I tell you there is joy in not knowing, in simply resting in the perfection of experiences that can be neither measured nor controlled.

I know . . . I know. It makes no sense! But that’s the point. It’s not supposed to. Hey, I have an idea. What if you observe me tomorrow while I breathe, and you can analyze it all you want after the two minutes have passed. Shall we give it try?

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Elusive meditation

When I have a lot to do—in the office, at home, or even getting ready for vacation —I have a difficult time meditating. This morning was like that. It began with an unsettled feeling as I tried to coax my mind to join me in the present moment. But it would not be tamed.

My mind became a hungry animal, keenly searching for something to sink its teeth into, preferably something substantial that required gnawing, tearing, and lots of chewing. An idea to be explored. An event to be analyzed. A behavior to be dissected. A plan to be created in excruciating detail.

Ah! What a mind! Monkey Mind Extraordinaire, enthusiastically swinging from one branch to another, totally engaged in frenetic acrobatics. It drags me through time and space at an awesome pace, leaving me restless and dissatisfied.

Riding my thoughts gets me nowhere near the peace I desire. A deep sigh. Enough! I’ll try again tomorrow.

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Cottage Path

Pathway to Peace

Going to the cottage has become part of my morning ritual. My soul has come to rely on it in much the same way as my body revels in morning coffee. Thus, sitting in my cottage rocking chair while watching the sun rise and sipping a hot cup of coffee has become this summer’s version of heaven on earth.

This morning it occurred to me that a mere two years ago the cottage didn’t exist. In fact, two years ago, the only thing that did exist was the land and my growing desire for “a bench or something” where I could sit outdoors and meditate.

As I allowed my desire to grow, the “bench” grew first into a glider, then into a gazebo, then into a “shed,” and finally into a fully-insulated, all-weather structure with a sleeping loft and its own electrical service. Oh, and let’s not forget the 100-yard path of stepping stones that keep my feet dry as I pick my way through the woods on dew-soaked mornings. Wow! That’s some meditation bench!

The manifestation of this cottage feels like a miracle on many levels. It’s something I dreamed up, planned, and paid for myself. It was built by me, my family, and friends. I hired no one to help. It’s truly a labor of love. On an outward level, I learned to use power tools, pound nails, install siding and decking, shingle a roof, hang drywall, and much more. On an inner level I learned how to admit my shortcomings, ask for help, allow others to be in charge, and accept without guilt the amazing outpouring of love from so many of my friends and family.

The lessons I learned along the way were both painful at times and funny at others; they were usually at least somewhat interesting. For example, Lesson #12: It takes 3 times longer to remove the wrong caulking than it does to put it up in the first place. (It took a while for that one to seem funny.)

The manifestation of my cottage from desire to reality has been a spiritual journey for me. I mention it now because it will no doubt appear in or be the topic of future blogs. I mention it, too, so you’ll know where I am as the sun’s coming up.

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