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Sunrise on ocean

Dear Friends,

Forgive me for posting so infrequently in 2019.  2020 will be better, in so many ways.  We have powerful forces at work in our youth, in the desire for freedom in Hong Kong, the vision in some of our would-be leaders, in Greta who sat alone to make her country and the world aware of climate disasters.

My focus in my morning meditation today took me to the increasing numbers of friends and family members who have been stricken with cancer recently, most of these in December 2019:  Angela (pancreas), Priscilla (brain), Patty (uterine), Ruth (tongue), Gene, and MaryElla with breast cancer!  So much, so fast.  My 33 year old niece is a elementary school music teacher, was still nursing her 21 month old daughter, had her first chemo the day after Christmas.

So, I took a look at the NIH website on cancer and sure enough!  They relate it directly to toxins in our food, water, air, pollution!  GREED is causing cancer!  https://www.niehs.nih.gov › health › materials › cancer_and_the_environment.

We have to get more active, do what we can to STOP the CAUSES, not just focus on making the drug industries richer by providing the chemicals to cure it.  Both necessary, could save the lives of my niece and friends, but the CAUSES are what we have to look at too!

Meditation leads to deep looking into the causes and conditions of suffering.  Let us not turn away from suffering in 2020, in ourselves, our friends, our communities, our world, our Mother Earth.  Let us do all we can to lessen suffering, so that a future may be possible for our children, our grandchildren, for life on earth!


Pat with craab

Yesterday my husband tossed a stranded a horseshoe crab back into the ocean.  Someone might wonder what difference this small act makes in a world of suffering and selfishness.  “It made a difference to that one crab,” he’d say.  We had just lifted our arms to the morning sun, turning our wills and lives over to the great Powers we saw in the sun, the ocean, the vast sky, asking to be ‘instruments of peace,’ to be allowed to help someone today. 

There is so much suffering, loved ones needing help, at least an open ear.  Often there is so little I can do directly to relieve the suffering! It’s frustrating to feel helpless, powerless.  So, I meditate, look deeply, hold everyone in my life who is suffering close to my heart, asking for inspiration to do whatever is possible to help relieve suffering.

I find Power in the realization that I am never alone, never able to solve any problem completely on my own.  I need people, the beauty and power of nature, all the forces for good, beauty, kindness, compassion and love in the world.  If I can contribute to that Force of Love today, please allow me the awareness, openness and compassion to do so.  We are all connected, so perhaps one act of kindness affects us all.

I hope that horseshoe crab lives a long life.

 

HR 40

Last week, I joined hundreds of eager citizens desiring to hear Ta-Nehisi Coates, Cory Booker, Danny Glover and my friend Katrina Browne (whose ancestors were involved in the slave trade) testify on HR-40 on Reparations for Slavery.  You can hear their short, powerful statements at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfEe1MRxSgI.

Most of us who had arrived at 7:30am were not allowed to enter the hearing room at 10:00am because we were told it was “full.”  Folks had traveled from NY, NC, PA, bringing children who patiently waited until reporters, interns and ‘important’ people jammed ahead of them in the hall.  I enjoyed talking to people, asking about their stories, the meaning of t-shirts connecting many as members of ADOS# (African Descendants of Slavery).

No amount of money can pay for over two million lives lost in the Middle Passage or over 2.5 million slaves who built the US economy that so many of us benefit from today.  Or for the extreme suffering of families torn apart, language and culture lost, the rapes, the beatings, the lynchings that persist to today in the form of police killings of young Black men.

My eyes were opened in a deep way in my first year of teaching at Montgomery Catholic High School in Alabama in 1963, just 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation.  The signs over some court bathrooms had been removed, MLK’s bus boycott had happened, but our small white Catholic high school was still segregated from the tiny African-American high school.  Separate, very unequal and a ridiculous use of resources.  It was an amazing year of change, of making Black friends, forming an integrated baseball team, rousing anger, becoming a revolutionary, realizing that I had grown up in similar segregation in Missouri and would fight the rest of my life to end it.

As Katrina Browne pointed out, white folks whose ancestors weren’t in the US before 1863 still ‘leap-frogged’ over the descendants of African slaves economically, politically, in every way.  Racism is not an abstract notion, but a continuing daily form of oppression and thievery from African-Americans who still do not have equality in education, housing, political power, health care, justice in an unjust court and penal system.

Let’s make things right!  Now!  Why wait?  African Americans have been waiting over 400 years!

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Today my father would. have been 110 if he had not died a horrible alcoholic death.  I am so grateful to carry his genes and his spirit today, to still be living beyond the years my father and mother both had in this human form.

We celebrated my father’s life and our gratitude for our lives this morning by greeting the rising sun with Sunlight Qi Gong, meditation, journaling and meeting with some dear friends.

Are you grateful for continuing your parents energy in your life today?  I am nourishing their positive gifts of hard work, patience, tolerance, humility, choosing often to place spiritual values before material ones throughout lives that were filled with challenges.  They weren’t perfect, as I am not and don’t even aspire to be perfect.  Just the best ME that comes from their love, the best person I can be today, with all the challenges and gifts of life.  Bringing nourishing energy from ancestors, the sun, the earth, and all of you, my friends, into my mind, body and spirit.  Thank you for being part of my good energy!

sunrise 3:1:19
I often tell friends new to meditation, “practice every day!” “You can’t meditate wrong.” “Just DO it!” Meditation is a practice, not an “event.” It is true that one mindful breath can change your life, give you the space to remain silent or stop a movement that might save your life. But most of us need daily practice to remember in a crisis to stop, breathe, relax, be in the present moment.  For my serenity and peace of mind and body, I need to practice every morning and throughout the day.

In Florida for two weeks of chasing away winter blues, we practiced together each morning, journaling under Venus, Jupiter, the moon. Then doing Qi Gong on the balcony to the rising sun and meditating in warm breezes. We were able to settle down our “doing” energy after a few days, though we did have work with us – a book proposal for me, a class Pat is teaching, planning future retreats with my partner there. We took long walks on the beach, swam in the Gulf, exercised at a local gym, went to daily recovery meetings, made most of our own meals mindfully, ate on the beach.  I dropped my news obsession, buying the NYT only once.  Our retreat home was very quiet, as is our home here.   Every evening possible, we watched the setting sun over the water, walking in the sand, saying farewell to a beautiful day.

We spend a great deal of our time teaching meditation, Qi Gong and other mindfulness practices. So, it is important for us to continue these practices ourselves, each day, wherever we go.  We take our busy minds with us; so mindfulness energy is available to help us slow down, relax, rest intensely on retreats and “vacation.” That word comes from the Latin root “to empty.” How appropriate for our efforts to empty our minds of noise that distracts us from touching the beauty of each moment. Really living, bringing our minds to where our feet are now – in the sand in Florida, in boots back in MD.

Find our upcoming workshops at http://www.qicircles.com.

Richard's DALI

My beloved nephew Richard passed away on November 16 from pulmonary hypertension, a painful, slow loss of breath.  The painting above was his last gift to me, based on Dali’s “Shades of Night Descending.”  That he could continue to create beauty like this, take care of his three dogs, maintain friendships and give so freely of his remaining time and energy amazes me.  His father and sister grieve his loss.  They also lost his mother Lynda when she was killed at age 24 by a drunk driver with 3 year old Richard in the car.  And his sister Michelle died suddenly at age 38 of a brain aneurysm.  Please pray for my family and create your own beauty with each precious moment of life.

Family is so important.  Please embrace yours at Thanksgiving with compassion and love.

Brookside lake photo

Photo at Brookside Gardens with my Art class

Dear Friends,

My heart breaks too at the news of the massacre of Jewish worshipers in Pittsburgh, the mail bombs, the hatred stirred at immigrants at election rallies.  We live in a challenging time that is increasing fear, triggering anger, driving us apart – if we allow this.  All the more important to care for our bodies, minds and hearts, to nourish compassion for ourselves and those who are suffering even more than we are at the moment.  Some psychiatrists have said that we are undergoing a national traumatic period.

When a friend called recently to share about a parking upset, the anger and fear still stirring inside, she had her own solution – take a walk, calm the feelings, meditate more.  STOP looking at constant television news.  It is possible to get the information without the barrage of repetitious pain.  Stop the negative input and place ourselves in positive, nourishing, inspiring environments, with people who support calm, peace, tolerance and love.

Two articles in yesterday’s paper inspired me to double up on spreading hope and kindness: “From Auschwitz to Pittsburgh” by Dan Zak in Style and “In an ill-tempered world, betting on a ‘Kindness Contagion‘ by Steven Petrow in the Health and Science section.

Be with children.  Enjoy Hallowe’en.

Love from Wonder Woman

Blog sunrise

During a wonderful discussion of ways to meditate yesterday, I thought of sharing our “cloud watching meditation” at the beach last week.  My husband and I love to rise before sunrise, do our journaling under the stars and meditate watching the clouds change as hints of the sun appear.  Then go down to the beach for Qi Gong during the actual sunrise.   This particular cloud formation changed so extremely slowly that it was easy to concentrate just on the beauty.  Some stories arose about the figures in the middle being me (on the left) being born into the arms of my mother and father (the clouds to the right).  I smiled at my ability to insert myself into anything, the ego being a pesky little creature.

But most of the time, my heart just filled with gratitude, joy, wonder, awe, happiness.

That counts as meditation, doesn’t it?  Any stopping, breathing, focusing on a rose, a child’s laugh, a butterfly is meditation.  Every conscious breath is a form of meditation.  Taking a breath instead of shouting in anger can save a life.  Where do we get the notion that it must be done in a particular fashion, particular place, in a particular way?  All ideas that prevent us from just DOING IT, trying whatever ways we enjoy, can become obstacles to developing a regular practice.  For however long or short a time possible, meditate TODAY.  Find something beautiful in nature and give it three breaths of appreciation.  Let me know how that is for you.

Hands on Rock photo

My affirmation for August is “Be me, be still, be present to this moment.”  My husband took the photo of my hands doing Sunlight #5 on Sligo Creek this morning.  I am so grateful for the privilege of time and energy to practice journaling, Qi Gong outdoors and meditation with him every morning.

National and world news holds new daily horrors, challenges to stand up to racism, violence and insanity.  Friends keep dying or developing Alzheimers.  Yet the creek flows, the sun rises, the dogs pull their people to exercise, babies learn to walk.  All the joy, peace and beauty exists within the suffering.  How important to touch the ultimate, the tiny flower of each moment, no matter what. No matter what.

Dusk at Joshua Tree

“Dusk at Joshua Tree”, photo by JM

“What were dreams? A ladle dipped, a bucket lowered. the deep, cool water beneath the bright surface; the shadow at the base of every tree. Dreams were the reciprocal of each place you visited when you were awake, each hour you passed through. For every moment in the present there was a mirror in the future, and another in the past. Memory and action, object and shadow, wakefulness and sleep. Put a sun over us and we each have our twin, attached to our feet, dragging about with us in lockstep. Try and outrun it.” (p. 296  About Grace by Anthony Doerr)

I love Anthony Doerr’s writing, his descriptions of snow, of being in the cold wilderness or tropics alone with memories and dreams. Powerful writers inspire, uplift, give me insights into my own life, my dreams, my actions and memories. How fortunate to be a human, to have a past, present and future of which we can be aware.  To have writers, artists, to be able to see, read and hear them.  How deep and rich is each moment we live alive, aware, present!

http://www.qicircles.com