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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.

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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

J holding sun

Ahh!  Another hint of sunlight during a long spring rain, lasting days.  This morning we had a moment’s break in clouds and rain to do Qi Gong on the beach.  We chose Sunlight Qi Gong, one of my favorite, most powerful exercises to draw the energy of the Sun into our bodies, minds and lives.  Today I almost felt that my pleading for the sun to show itself had an effect!  I remember feeling that as a little girl on rainy days – that if I just prayed hard enough, the sun would reappear.

I know the sun is always there, as are all the Powers  that sustain our lives on earth.  If not, we would disappear too.  The sun is our main source of energy from without and can be nourished in our bodies and minds even when we can’t see it.  Thank you, dear friends who joined us in a Day of Mindfulness in Rehoboth Beach yesterday.  You also brought sunshine into my heart.

Daddy's photoMLK monument

 

April 4 will mark the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr’s assassination and the explosion of Washington, DC.  We will honor his legacy of peace, justice and non-violent resistance to racism with a prayer walk, service and march beginning at the MLK Memorial at 7:00 am.  Hopefully you will join us to honor this great man who lives on in our hearts, minds and actions for justice and an end to the discrimination and slaughter of African-Americans.

April 4 is also the anniversary of my father’s death, a death of suffering, loneliness, confusion and disease.  He and Martin Luther King are among my most powerful ancestors, one by blood and my early formation, one by his example, words and my choice to follow in his footsteps.

I hope to honor both in my thinking, words and actions, in my passion for truth, justice, peace and non-violent ways of bringing love into this suffering country.  Please join me  in body or spirit, and bring with you all your ancestors -spiritual, blood, land ancestors – to walk together in peace.

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This is a special day for me, an auspicious day.  A good day to reflect on gratitude for my body, my parents, my life.

Our meditation reading this morning was from Thich Nhat Hanh’s The Other Shore (p. 38): “Today physicists agree that matter is not solid but full of space.  The atoms that make up our body are mostly space, and are not static at all – they have electrons orbiting a nucleus at thousands of kilometers a second.  Looking deeply into our feelings, we see something similar.  Feelings are fields of energy and are constantly changing.  In the same way, our perceptions, mental formations and consciousness are also ever-changing, flowing rivers.”

How true this is!  I can feel the flow of energy in my body, mind and feelings, especially during Qi Gong practice, meditation, dance and deep connections with other people and nature.  It becomes more obvious as we age that our bodies are not static, immobile, unchanging.  We change in every muscle, every cell every moment.  How exciting that quantum physics is able to explain to us today what meditators have experienced in their own bodies for centuries.  Movement, change, space where we see only solid mass.

I can see my body as a flowing river of energy, my feelings as sparks of energy that change so quickly, my life as energy that is being constantly transformed and connected to other forms of energy, other people, experiences and forms of life.  The teaching that we are never born and never die makes sense.

What a joy to experience the flow of life today, to feel gratitude for each precious moment.

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I feel creativity coming back into my bones! YES! I might really be over this bad cold!  I might be alive, capable of WRITING, doing some things that I’ve neglected for so long! Why not?

I felt a blog forming this morning in my journaling, coming out of the fog of illness, resting, reading, doing not a lot of anything.  Energy returning!  How long has it been since I’ve blogged? Months!

Granted that last fall we had one of the busiest, most productive, creative series of workshops, classes and days of mindfulness ever, then our trip to Malaysia and now illness. Yes, there are reasons for this gap in my publishing, including three friends in crisis for months, needing lots of support. Also our local sangha needing our energy.  But this is just too long a gap in serious writing, leaving my book (Loving Mindfully) sitting at a second publisher who has not responded in months.

So, having a deadline for an article for the Mindfulness Bell on activism due in a month is a new motivator to WRITE. Also the meeting I attended last Wednesday had a discussion topic – “What are you balking at? Resisting?”  The question hit me in the gut.  I responded, telling l on myself, that I’ve not been faithful to my “heart’s pure desire” to write regularly, to find outlets for my creativity.

There are many expressions of that creative juice that I’ve not practiced in ages – acting, dancing, playing the piano, composing poetry and songs, drawing, taking art classes. All of these are activities I have spent many hours, days and months doing at various times in my life. Loved them all! But what are my creative priorities at this point in my life? The two habits I have not lost are my morning journaling and reading. Even when ill this week, I journaled every morning and read a 450 page book in three days. A blessing. Sometimes I write a review for Goodreads, but I no longer have the outlet of teaching or a book group to discuss most of the novels and other books I read. I so rarely publish anything I’m thinking, feeling or writing. I sometimes feel like I’m a hermit, succumbing to “old age,” resisting calls to write and find other creative outlets.

Why do I resist, balk at doing more creative things, at least writing (a good old age form of creativity)?  I hear those negative voices – “you’re not good enough,” “no one cares,” “no one reads what you write anyway, especially publishers.” Yet that little voice of conscience inside reminds me that I’m three years away from 80 (when many of my friends are experiencing health and mental issues that take a tremendous amount of their time and energy). If I ever want to get one of my books published, it had better be soon! But I find myself prone to creating endless “to do” lists of tasks, (do taxes, answer emails, re-write the will, call this person, plan a party, go to a demo) rather than committing to an hour of writing in the morning, my best time.

I heard this voice of creativity, of being true to my deepest self, my best self, the one that is free, open, loving, present very strongly during a serious moral inventory of myself years ago. I am not being true to my best self when I ignore creativity for too long.

It’s not that practicing and teaching Qi Gong, reading, journaling, speaking to groups, giving retreats, creating flyers doesn’t involve my creative self. I have many daily outlets like these. But we all know the answer to that question when someone poses it to us – “What am I resisting doing that my heart tells me I must do before I die?” “Why am I resisting?” “Do I need some help to see my path clearly and follow it?”

Your answer to these questions may be vastly different from mine. But please ask yourself the question today and hear that small voice within your heart. Listen, Listen.

QG class 10:17

Before our second session of Five Animal Play class this week, I was feeling tired from a day of travel until midnight and experiencing pain from an oncoming bout of cystitis. I took the necessary medical measures, drank copious amounts of water and heard my husband saying that he could teach the class on his own if necessary. However, medication relieved the pain by 6:00pm and I wanted to be present in the class, to receive and give whatever energy possible.

What happened is what happens in every class – we benefit as much as the students from an hour of practice together. I also received the added benefit of my body, mind and spirit feeling better, being held by the field of healing Qi energy created by the group. The lesson I learned yet again – we benefit from gentle practice, even during illness or weakness. We can benefit from others’ energy when we are not able to generate much at all on our own. I have witnessed this in many forms over the past month – in meditation circles, Qi Gong classes, spiritual meetings where the intention is strong to heal and help heal others.

In The Healing Promise of QI by Roger Jahnke (p. 259), a book several Qi Gong teachers are studying together, he says “When you practice with a group there is a distinct awareness that it is easier to do your practice, and the internal effect of your practice tends to be more evident.” He also teaches that Qi is unlimited and can be applied across great distances. “In fact, the Qi Chang – healing field – of all who practice Qi Gong is always present because there are always people doing Qi Gong in the world.” There are also always people praying, meditating, loving, practicing compassion and kindness toward animals, children, neighbors, friends and loved ones.

We have a choice every moment to plug into this energy, to choose life, to choose healing, to choose love.  Thank you to each of you for practicing, sending good energy into the Universe today and for helping me heal and live such an amazing life.

J holding sun

This morning practicing Sunlight Qi Gong as the sun rose over the Atlantic Ocean and meditating with the sun warming my face, I had a realization. The sun is always there, giving tremendous energy that keeps life going on our planet. Whether I look or not, whether or not clouds block my view of the sun, it keeps shining, generating and sharing energy with all of us. The sun has not only been here, keeping me alive my entire life, but has existed about 5 billion years! A very potent “Higher Power” in my life! It will continue to sustain me for the rest of my life, and the lives of all people who now exist on earth and those to come for many generations – whether or not I pay attention, respond, understand its generosity and care.

My aspiration today is to be more like the sun, to give of the energy I have, the gifts, the love I have received. Whether or not others notice my light, respond to emails about retreats, days of mindfulness, Qi Gong classes, I want to keep sending out all the goodness, the energy, the light, the love possible that I have so freely received.

Thank you, Sun, for the gift of life. Fill me and help me generate and share your beautiful energy today, whether or not anyone reads this blog!  Or signs up for classes at http://www.qicircles.com.  :):):)

Full Moon 9:17

We were fortunate last night to see the full moon rise from the Atlantic ocean – huge, orange, gorgeous! We practiced movements from Moonlight Qi Gong to celebrate and connect with nature. Then we recited the Five Awarenesses for our monthly renewal of wedding vows:

1. We are aware that all generations of our ancestors and all future generations are present in us.
2. We are aware of the expectations that our ancestors, our children and their children have of us.
3. We are aware that our joy, peace, freedom and harmony are the joy, peace, freedom and harmony of our ancestors, our children and their children.
4. We are aware that understanding is the very foundation of love.
5. We are aware that blaming and arguing never help us and only create a wider gap between us, that only understanding, trust and love can help us change and grow.

If you would like to practice growing in understanding and love for your partner, join us in a brand new class this fall for COUPLES! We will meet for 4 sessions every other Wednesday beginning October 18 at the Takoma Park Community Center. Find out more about this class  Waking Up Together – on our website with a link to register with TPCC. Space is limited, so early registration is recommended. We look forward to practicing with you!