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Eclipse 8:21Today the Totality! Many powerful spiritual forces align with moon and sun to wake us up.  At WMC last night, Thay talked about how listening to one another heals us from within.  I also spent several hours reading and studying Ch 14 in The Healing Promise of Qi by Roger Jahnke.  One passage seemed very relevant to our meeting today of Qi Gong teachers to practice during the eclipse.  “Everyone creates healing fields of energy.  Everyone benefits, especially those whose need is greatest.”

All of nature, especially the dance of the sun and moon today,  cooperates in the act of healing Energy.

Mindfulness is ENERGY! The energy of love, of goodness, serenity, peace, more powerful than hatred, violence and ego.   Mindfulness wakes us up to the fact that we are surrounded by powerful energy every moment of our lives.  It is available to us all – in nature, in meditation, in Qi Gong movements, in sharing both our suffering and joy, in breathing and smiling together.

Our giving and receiving does affect the whole world, sends out healing, refreshing energy to those who are suffering most.  Qi is not bound by time or space! It’s true! Science is real. Amazing!  Grateful to be alive and able to participate in today’s eclipse!

Women's March on Washington 21 Jan 17

Remember the Women’s March only six months ago?  Six months of chaos and insane foreign “non”-policy, bomb dropping, firings, and disregard for the rule of law and balance of power?  Yet also six months of mobilizing, great demonstrations, committees formed to protect the most vulnerable in our communities, articles, speeches, victories in the courts and legislature.  We must remain awake, aware, involved in whatever way we can to resist the removal of systems that protect life, protect civilization.

Yet an interesting article in the Washington Post Arts&Style section reminds us that “taking a break from current events” for an hour doesn’t mean “not paying attention.”  We need to take care of our bodies, spirits and minds to be alive, aware and ready to be involved for the “long haul.”  So, meditating every morning, reading Handmaiden’s Tale again, drawing a cartoon, laughing, holding a baby, walking in the woods is not “copping out” of the revolution.

I was perhaps too single minded in the late sixties, stopped reading novels, dedicated all my reading time to political analysis and gathering of research for my next speech, next demonstration or news article.  In today’s struggles, I am not giving up my journaling, meditation, Qi Gong routine, time with family and friends who make me laugh, an occasional play, movie or book that isn’t directly related to politics and social change.  Our minds need breaks, variety, balance, delight and joy.

 

 

MLK monument

Many of my great teachers are small in stature but huge in spirit, in courage, in their actions for peace and social justice.  This photo of Martin Luther King, I took last week at his memorial reminds me of the importance of standing up to current insanity, lies and blatant greed in our government, to the harm planned by gutting the Medicaid program for millions.  A powerful reading from Together We are ONE by Thich Nhat Hanh this morning reminded me that Gandhi, Rosa Parks and Mother Teresa were physically small people with actions that still resound around the world and in our hearts.    Larry Ward’s article in that wonderful book was a call to action – huge action by each one of us.  He asked the question, “How can we NOT be as big” as our teachers?  We stand on the shoulders of giants!  Their courage and insights are in us.  “Our actions matter, our thoughts matter, our speech matters, because they live on when we have disappeared.  Our actions, our thoughts, our speech are continued in the stream of time and space, and also go beyond time and space.” (p. 131).

Hands on SligoOur best time to gather Qi at Sligo Creek is early in the morning.  Just as the sun peeks through the trees and touches the rocks and flowing water of the creek, we are beginning “Worship,” the fourth movement of Sunlight Qi Gong.  The gently changing light and sound of the creek enhance the waking energy in our bodies.  One morning we were joined by a tiny deer curled among the rocks on the other side of the creek watching our movements.  Often cardinals, ducks and sometimes an egret will appear.

If you would like to join us, we are usually near Kennebec (between Piney Branch and the hospital) about 7:00am   We so enjoy working with our students at Takoma recreation center, but our “Five Animal Play” class doesn’t begin until October 10.  We hope you are all practicing – any exercises, any time, that nourish your body, minds and spirit.  Qi is available to all of us, reaching out, energizing our lives.  Seize the moment today.  Share your experience practicing in nature .

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What we water in ourselves is what grows into this world, right?  If there is violence, racism, ideas of “me,” “mine”and separation, where did they come from but our minds, our wrong notions of reality?

The practice of mindfulness has helped me come to know my true self better, to see that I am not separate from any other human, any suffering or any joy in this world.  “Suffering that appears far away is closer than you think.  It is all near, because it is all US.  What if we are already in heaven and are missing it because of our wrong ideas?”

We read these words before our morning meditation several days ago from Together we are One by Thich Nhat Hanh.  This specific chapter by Larry Ward is full of great insights about the false notion of “race” and the suffering that flows from it.  If our meditation can transform not only our thinking but our actions, heaven is right here, right now.  Mindfulness can guide us to transforming war into peace, police killings into unified communities.  We are ONE, but we often don’t realize this truth, become fearful and act in ways that harm one another.  What if there is really no need for fear or anger or revenge?  What if our unity, our deep love for one another IS heaven!

Why not live this one day as if we have already arrived in the Ultimate and dwell there?  Together.

J at Sunrise 5:17

Sitting on the edge of the Atlantic ocean, after doing Sunlight Qi Gong slowly to the rising sun, my mind tries to hold all the suffering in the world. The seemingly endless suffering feels so overwhelming, so huge – Syrian people bombed, children raped in Nigeria (reflecting the Untamed State, a novel about a kidnapping in Haiti I’m reading), and the insanity of our government. How can one heart and mind hold it all? Even knowing a small portion of the suffering, I could drown in it all, lose myself, my perspective so easily. I would possibly, if I were in the midst of being raped or watching my child die of starvation. These horrors are happening to some woman right now. In my safety, surrounded by beauty, I try to hold her suffering in my heart, send her love, gentleness, the power of the rising sun.

Practicing breathing mindfully, moving slowly, bringing the energy of the sun, ocean, sand and clear air into my mind, my body and my heart is more important now than ever. These are the times we have been practicing for – these moments of great uncertainty, fear, war, poverty, chaos and suffering. The world needs our mindful energy so much, our compassion for suffering, our openness to beauty, goodness, kindness and love.

As I hug my husband, I hug all suffering people in the world and send them the energy of hope.

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I just had an insight, walking slowly down Pennsylvania Avenue in the Climate March April 29th. What we experienced there, our teacher urging us to gather, walk slowly, mindfully, to sing together, be a strong presence in the midst of a huge, loud, often wild scene is really a picture of the highest reality! All the “news” that’s reported about Trump is ‘blah, blah’ noise by comparison. What is REAL, WHAT IS TRUE NEWS is that there are people, groups, a world-wide movement for peace, love, sanity, justice and preservation of Mother Earth. He looks big when magnified by TV news, but he is a blip on the screen of life and history compared to Thich Nhat Hanh, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, the Buddha, Jesus and the millions of people around the world making peace.

We have to keep our perspective, to see what is REAL, lasting, on the Ultimate dimension of REALITY – an amazingly huge Universe that humans have barely begun to explore or understand!

We have to be extra mindful when surrounded by messages that are meant to provoke fear, confusion and dispersion of our energy.  Real damage is being done, many are suffering as a result of ignorance and greed.  But together we are truly larger, stronger and more powerful than any president, any government. If we get distracted by tweets, games, threats and noise, we might forget that we are made of stars, that we are as old as the Universe, as vast, as powerful, as beautiful.  What is REAL, what is TRUE is LOVE, PEACE, Inter-BEING.  We need to change, to act, to stay vigilant and we DID in January and last weekend! But most importantly, we need to keep our perspective, to see what is true, what is real. We need to protect our minds, hearts and emotions, so our lizard brain won’t jerk us into reacting from anger or fear. Every day we nourish our peace, our joy, our freedom, our unity with one another on this precious planet in the vast Universe of which we are a part.

Let us keep walking, marching, smiling, breathing together.

 

Redbud and BEE

Suffering surrounds us – the starvation in Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria, the bombs in Syria, frightening threats from our government to the Earth’s survival.  Yet we breathe, have breakfast, hear the bees in the redbud tree in the back yard.  How can such deep suffering within and around us and such beauty and joy co-exist?

My meditation teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, says that mindfulness has two functions.  The first is to get in touch with the wonderful and beautiful things all around us.  The second is to get in touch with the difficult emotions, like anger, fear, pain and sorrow inside and around us.  Mindfulness can help us recognize and embrace these difficulties and transform them. (Together We are One: Honoring our Diversity, Celebrating our Connection, p. 84).

Three things help me do this work of transformation:  a daily habit of mindfulness meditation , connection with community and active resistance to war, poverty, discrimination and destruction of our Mother Earth.  Suffering exists.  How do we transform it today within ourselves, in our world?

Have you heard the protests against Trump’s bombing of Syria?  Who is speaking out against this dangerous action? Yet another undeclared war!

Yesterday I attended an excellent panel on Islamaphobia at Takoma Park Elementary.   I was very moved by all three speakers, two of them Muslim women, Dr. Maha Hilal of the DC Muslims for Justice Coalition and Ramah Kudaimi of the Washington Peace Center.  Dr. Hilal’s dissertation was entitled “Too damn Muslim to be Trusted: The War on Terror and the US Involvement.” She explained the term “Islamaphobia” as part of our government policy to enforce laws discriminating against Muslims for the purposes of promoting “war on terror.” It includes violence against Muslims in this country, dehumanization of Muslims, hate crimes, justification for torture, imprisonment without due process, dark prisons in other countries, Guantanamo Bay, criminalization of charity, bans based on religion, kill lists, drone bombing in Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.

The culture of this country, supported by media, television programs, stereotypes, puts the onus on the Muslim community for “terrorism.” Whereas the true fuel for terrorist actions comes from our own government policies of war, bombing of innocent civilians, increasing severe poverty, stealing oil and other natural resources from countries in the Middle East which are predominantly Muslim, killing and persecuting Muslim people, well over a million in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria and northern Africa. These policies have been going on long before Trump and are supported by white supremacy and (I would say) imperialism of our government and our US people.

In other words, the cause of terrorism is in US, not in the Muslim community. So we need to focus the solution, not on changing the Muslim community, pointing out the “good” Muslims who are peaceful, making them responsible for uncovering the “bad” Muslims. The solution is to CHANGE US! Our discriminating laws, such as the “CVE” (Countering Violent Extremism) programs, (spearheaded by the U of MD and Montgomery County!) that equate activism with terrorism. This is a Homeland Security plan to recruit teachers, social workers and police to target youth who express objection to government policies (in violation of their 1st and 4th Constitutional rights of free speech, assembly and security from unreasonable search and seizure), gather information on these young people and stop protest against government policies and actions. Policies like this feel like the beginning of fascism in our country! We have to focus on stopping this, not on changing Muslim communities, practices or “saving” Muslim women! They are some of the most outspoken against these injustices!

Contact mococivilrights.wordpress.com or mococivilrights@gmail.com for more information on how to stop CVE in our schools and community.

A LESSON IN MINDFUL EATING

Yesterday afternoon, I arrived for a visit to my friend in a nursing home toward the end of his lunch time.  He was totally focused on eating, carefully moving the spoon into a dish of custard and fruit.  I sat silently, just breathing and observing the care with which he moved his hands, focused his intention, brought the spoon to his mouth and chewed his food.   He was clear with his aide when he was finished eating, and she waited patiently until that time to remove his tray, leaving a glass of water and straw for him to drink.  Then he was ready for a visit.

What a beautiful time with this amazing man who has helped so many people in his lifetime.  Now is the time for him to receive support with breathing, moving, and just the amount of help he needs to feed himself.  He inspires me to continue to slow down, and take my first three bites for him and my meditation teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, who has also suffered physical limitations that reduce his mobility.  Both these men give me lessons on mindful eating, mindful living.  My heart is full of gratitude for them.