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Category Archives: Opening the Mind

Fall leaves at sunrise 11:3

With daylight savings time, I can now easily catch the first light of dawn, and, as i journal near my eastern window, the gradual lightening of the sky, the tips of our tupelo tree’s red leaves highlighted by the first rays of the sun.

I have probably always been a sun worshipper, a cloud watcher, a tree climber, a runner up and down the hills of my youth. So, it is refreshing and wonderful to have found a spiritual path and a teacher who writes

    Love Letters to the Earth

We are reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s wonderful book in our morning meditation group, relishing the notion that the Earth is not separate from us. Mother Earth is in us and we in her. Everything we have of life comes from her, through her bounty.

If we experience sadness, loneliness, isolation, fears that we are separate beings floundering about in this life, there is a ready and powerful solution. I just go outdoors, take a little walk, no matter what the weather, feel the rain, snow, sunlight or breeze on my cheeks, touch the earth, see the beauty of the natural world. Almost immediately I feel more whole, more connected to life, more ready to see my problems in perspective. I am part of something vast, beautiful, real, alive! I always have been part of the earth, the mountains, the oceans, the rivers, the deserts, even before I saw them from my midwestern home.

What are we doing today to enjoy the leaves as they change colors, as they fall?

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Duck Sligo

 

This morning, my husband and I enjoyed Qi Gong and meditation on Sligo Creek.  As we sat on a bench to meditate, I noticed a duck in the creek watching for fish to swim by for his breakfast.  I was fascinated by the duck’s patience, hardly moving a muscle watching the water with a slight head movement now and then.  I knew I had a focus for my meditation, the patience and stillness of animals, trees and rocks in this beautiful spot.   Could I ever be that still, even for twenty minutes?  The sound of the water trilling over rocks, the gentle spring breeze and occasional glances at the duck and the sunlight reflecting on the boulders next to the water all enhanced my meditation.  I felt one with nature, with all of life, allowing the beauty and peace to penetrate my body and mind.

When we finished our meditation, I asked Patrick if he saw the duck.  We weren’t sure that any animal could remain in one position for so long.  So we went closer to have a better look and discovered that our “duck” was a piece of branch holding several fallen winter leaves in the water.  Our teacher of patience had taken a different form than the one we both had in our minds.  We smiled.  The lesson happened, even though our perception was incorrect.  And don’t ducks have many “non-duck elements”?

Reading the news after breakfast, I carried the same question “Are you sure?” to articles about the civil war in Syria, the exchange of the American soldier for five Taliban leaders, sexual abuse in the navy, the death of a local hip-hop artist.  I have also been reading the draft of a wonderful book that delves into the shaping of people who end up on opposite sides of a genocidal civil war.  In a world full of both conflict and great peace, would it be useful to constantly ask myself the question “Are you sure, Joann…are you sure?” when I am ready to impose a view, speak out strongly against a perceived wrong, take sides in an argument.  Even my eyes perceive only what they perceive in a moment, and the duck I see might just be leaves clinging to a branch in the water.

May my mind stay open today, trying to perceive what I see, hear what I hear, be whatever I am in the moment, open to the lessons of nature, people, events, letting go of the need to be sure.

Non-duck