Where does inspiration lie? Everywhere!

This is my attempt to pounce on and then shape the words I breathe.

Please join me with your comments and make this a dialogue . . . and visit Susan's Poetry!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Saturday! Sunday! Monday! Healthy!

Buddha sends love to all beings.

I've been cultivating Metta, sometimes for me, sometimes for others, with a little casual "why don't I close my eyes now and meditate" thrown in.   I love it all, though I am aware that my meditations are still brief enough to be laughable to Those Who Meditate.  Yet it is helping me.  

Yesterday, for example, I went to two Meetings for Worship--Upper Dublin in the morning and West Philadelphia in the afternoon.  When sitting became painful--because with the driving I actually sat with little relief from 9:15 until 2:45--5 hours!--I found that a brief meditation helped me to re-compose my body so that the right skeletal parts, muscles, and nerves were working together more efficiency.

Add the breath to that too and you have a much healthier Susan.  A pain-controlled Susan. Imagine that!  I've got 3 bottles of 600 proof Ibuprofen that I just may be able to throw out.  For the last 2 months I have only taken Lyrica and Tylenol.  

Physical Therapy is hard, but I like it a lot.  I feel my core muscles getting stronger and beginning to take over instinctively.  I've got a long way to go.

But I feel that I have the tools to get there.

Sooo.  Will this post seem irrelevant to me some day like so many journals I've written in my life?  Possibly, but now I want to remember how it feels to get hope from small personal moves and experience how healing strengthens me for facing the devastation of terrorism and inhumanity around the entire world.   Meditating helps me to notice the kindness that is also working around the entire world.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Mindful Monday: Love and Kindness Practice

I totally enjoyed doing this today (Friday, not Monday).  I've been working with loving kindness to me and to friends and needed a break before moving forward.  

I don't know this young teacher's name.  He calls himself JusTMindfulness (this link goes to his You Tube Channel where he has many more videos, some of them lessons).  This one is a little fast and wordy, but since he's talking to children as well as adults, the concepts are swiftly accessible to me.  And since I've worked his breathing mindfulness videos, I know how to prepare the body for leaving tension behind and still imaging who I wanted to see and even larger things.

Two months ago, this video would not have seemed too short.  I'm learning/changing.  I meditated in the physical therapist's waiting room earlier this morning and I'll be entering that state again before the evening is over.


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Meditating more than once a day!


Today and yesterday I meditated with  Stage 2 – Cultivating metta towards a good friend
A friend is by definition someone whose well-being is important to us. When they feel bad it upsets us, and when they feel good it’s pleasing to us. So a friend is someone we already have metta for, and what we’re doing is strengthening that metta.
The above flower is from its page on whether to use the same person or vary.  For these two days, I brought in my friend Jennifer Elam who is once more in Kentucky to care for aging parents.  May she experience loving-kindness in her visit.

I hope I experience again today the ease with which I meditated right after Physical Therapy, laying on an ice pack, but still, and for almost 20 minutes.  Then again with ice pack after hurting my back cleaning.  And then again for 10 more minutes while waiting for the Buds of Jesus to arrive. Wonderful!  I felt kinder all evening to myself and to each of them.  My grin was genuine.  There is nothing better.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Finding Metta (noun) = loving kindness, the Buddhist virtue of kindness; also called maitri

Taking a full morning to ready myself and read all the pages about the importance of Stage One: Cultivating Metta Toward Yourself, I came across this statement and felt great that I had discovered this myself:

"When I use the phrase 'May I be well, may I be happy, may I be free from suffering,' I like to drop each part of the phrase in separately, as if it were an individual flower. I drop in 'May I be well,' and then pause for a complete breath to watch for the ripples in my emotions. Then I say 'May I be happy,' and pause again to feel any effect from the phrase. Then I do the same with 'May I be free from suffering.' "  

Amanda Kemp's post meditation glow 
with Jake the compassionate lab.

          I am grateful to Amanda for valuing and extending this practice as part of her mission to change the world.  I've got to persist because it is working!

Monday, November 16, 2015

"Stage 1 – Cultivating metta" and Today's Colors of Sadness and Hope

hands and flowers

Dr. Amanda Kemp sent a powerful link to us on Day 16 of this cycle of her 30-Day Meditation Challenge (Can it truly be day 16 already?): Stage 1 – Cultivating metta toward yourself. The image above is from the same page. Imagine that is me/you in those hands. Imagine those hands every shade of skin imaginable. I love the image because it reminds me of the fragility of hands all over the world--like flowers, they need loving kindness to stay alive, lively and life-giving. A post I read earlier today spoke of the thousands of heartbeats the world lost due to bombings and terrorism in the last few days. When you think of hands, multiply by a factor of at least 2.

So I started this meditation in a state of anxiety. I fixed my chair to give my spine support and began the ritual relaxation that brought me to the phrases I attempted weeks ago:

May I be well.May I be happy.May I be free from suffering.
And they worked so much better! I'm building "me" as a starting place for larger work. Knowing that was basic made me let go of the pit of guilt in my stomach and the sadness of this day. 

When the voice spoke of dropping these words into my relaxed body, my mind gave me a watercolor image: You know how washing the brushes tints a glass of water? I saw myself as the glass of water. I was a blue tint. Dropping the words in changed that to pink which I felt as a rosier outlook. That's as far as that went today, but I want to work more with the image!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Still meditating

Meditation every day is becoming more of a habit, which is good.  I don't forget.  I wake with the thought on my mind and the question of when I can do it.  Next, I'd like to make a ritual place to sit. I have been laying down, combining back care with meditation.  I have been taking more like ten minutes than 5, but I am not sure because I have moved from meditation to sleep!  It is no wonder that sitting up is the most recommended position for meditation!  

Today, since I had left music on all night, I meditated to music:  

This added more layers to mindfulness.  I heard the chimes on my cell phone, the music, the alarm clock radio (from upstairs) and the traffic on Church Lane (outside this living room window). Usually I am unaware of the traffic sounds.  I noted that I was unable to attempt to include prayer/worship with the meditation practice while I was truly mindful of my place in space.  I hadn't realized how much I was "doing" during meditation time.  Still, it was much less "busy" than my normal buzz buzz buzzing around.

About the prayer/worship and the buzz: It is no wonder that I hear God and Jesus as voices, since I have a constant stream of business, commentary, second guessing, critique and often recrimination going on in my head.  Worship focuses that, quieting much of the internalized messaging.  So does meditation, but differently when it is mindfulness meditation.  I have been curious about the voice of God--not so much about Jesus--because I don't see God as a man or anything with human features.  Alice Walker took that off my mind with her book The Color Purple way back in 1983 when I first read it.  In fact, I began hearing God around that time when I opened myself up to a Godness in and around me.  I think Mary Daly's sense of God as a verb also helped.   My head turns everything, interprets everything, in voices regardless of initial contact.  It's just who I am.  Buzz buzz buzz.  John Calvi actually recoiled from such heady business in one of my workshops with him. He recoiled as if he was burned.  I don't think it burns me, but I have been delighted when a different kind of mind fullness gives me a rest:  a mind full of breath and sensation and especially sound and smell.  I like meditating.  I love worshiping and accept God however I become aware of it.  

Today I am attending an art and spirituality workshop led by my own Jen Elam!  She is not mine, of course, but her home is where we write together, and she has turned her place into a workshop area for the day.  I promised to bring an apple sauce so I better get on it even though I have very few apples.  I have a new Foley Food Mill I want to try out--new to me from a guy named Jeff.  I gave him one of my poetry books for it, that's how delighted I am to have it!

Here is the music I slept with most of the time I slept last night: 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Meditation November 9 and 10: Co-creating wholeness While Waiting

Ah, yesterday! 
(I love quoting from Sam Beckett's Happy Days.)  

Yesterday I meditated for 5 minutes twice while waiting for Amy to arrive for our Monday morning worship session.   I set the gongs to ring on my cell phone between 7 and 8AM.   I felt so good melting into non-stress and then rising into mindfulness of breath and body and sound, falling and rising again.  I did it first lying down and then sat up after reading Richard Rohr's meditation.  Lots to think about this week on the topic of "Co-creating wholeness."

Today was even better.  This time I was waiting for the cleaning ladies: 

Mindfulness meditation while waiting
takes care of stress.  I root instead, become
an elm, an oakdepending on my mood
and rest to soft-sap rising harmonies,
and trees don't pace, no, they don't squawk or nag,
no, they don't talk nor walk nor watch a clock,
they grow real slow the more they're left alone . . .

I've always hated waiting.  Why?  It used to give me opportunity—for 37+ years—to smoke cigarettes, which I came to see as a slow kind of suicide based on self-loathing.  But if there ever was self-loathing, it is gone.  It is gone with forgiveness of those who I imagined had abused me.   Abuse and waiting are instances of being out of control, are times it seems that I have no choice.  But I have a choice, and now I choose to meditate. This is a choice that helps me feel good about myself.   This is a choice that allows me to accept my relationship with God as well, to accept love and to love, to answer the vast call yearning towards me, to be aware of it more often.

Hildegard von Bingen_ _The Universe_ _detail__ Scivias Codex_ c. 1165.
Hildegard von Bingen, "The Universe" (detail), Scivias Codex, c. 1165.     
Science: Week 2     

The Great Turning 
Monday, November 9, 2015 
I have set before you life and death, therefore choose life. 
-- Deuteronomy 30:19
Eco-philosopher, Earth elder, friend, and spiritual activist Joanna Macy, now in her eighties, has been promoting a transition from the Industrial Growth Society to a Life-sustaining Society for most of her life. She calls it the Great Turning, a revolution of great urgency: "While the agricultural revolution took centuries, and the industrial revolution took generations, this ecological revolution has to happen within a matter of a few years." She is hopeful as she sees individuals and groups participating in "1) actions to slow the damage to Earth and its beings; 2) analysis of structural causes and creation of structural alternatives; and 3) a fundamental shift in worldview and values." [1, emphasis mine]

. . . . and more . . . .

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Meditating on November 7 and 8

Today, at about 9:00 am I did Guided Mindful Breathing and Listening with Hip Hop Artist JusTme.  I've done this one before and knew his voice would calm and remind me how to return after drifting and how to stop judgement.  Then I downloaded meditation bells on my new cell phone and on this huge screen.  I found this amazing recording of Tribe 1's song, and put it here to use in meditating as well.  Wow!

Yesterday I meditated myself to sleep again, but between the aisles of the theatre at Westtown School during PYM Continuing Sessions.  As I explained on Facebook:
I'm tired out from a full day of PYM sessions--big groups, small groups, upstairs, downstairs, inside and outside. I took one nap between the aisles of an auditorium, guarded by two lions, and then left a little early to have another one all evening. But, it was a full day of no-brace endurance--a first! I'm grateful for everyone who helped with golf-cart rides, and hands up and companionship. I'm grateful for every surprise and change and evidence of growth. What a day!
The two lions were Pamela Haynes and Charlie Randall from the Pamplets Working Group at Pendle Hill.

(Lots of links here for me to remember later.)

Friday, November 6, 2015

Day 5 meditation

30 Day Meditation Challenge Meetup --Susan Chast and Amanda Kemp from Amanda Kemp on Vimeo.

I drove to Lancaster today for lunch and conversation with the dynamic Amanda Kemp, originator of the 30-day meditation challenge and visionary performer director of  #SayHerName, Inspira and Art as Ceremony.  Amanda makes me believe we can still save our planet. 

Long time sitting, great time telling each other about ourselves.  

I fell asleep meditating again.  

There is so much more to say today.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Day 3 and 4: Dealing with muscle-recovery pain and uncertainty

I've been distracted, but I've been using the meditation challenge to assist me with both the physical and the emotional disturbances.

Physical therapy has been making me test muscles that I haven't moved for a while.  I have been frightened that the pain means I'm pulling too hard on the surgery itself.  One of the physical therapists and I discussed the issue.  She suggested I go back on pain meds for a while so that I can do the work I need to do.  I increased the Lyrica again to 3 pills a day--as it was before--to see if that will work before I try the other.   

Emotionally, I was frustrated when the carpenters who are now ripping out and replacing my kitchen floor and my gutters didn't start on Monday!  Grrr.  And they didn't call.  And I had cleared out my kitchen and my schedule for them.  I used to smoke cigarettes while waiting.  I've learned that meditation works better.  Cigs are another med I will not go back to since I left them behind to afford retirement.  Yup.  Almost $100 extra per month.  They started today, Wednesday, and all is going well.  But if they need 5 days and keep me out of the kitchen over the weekend, I may need meditation medication for stress again.  Just saying.

Yesterday, I tried the breathing all day and finally let it move me into a fitful nap.  After I cancelled the day's plans to walk in the woods with Amy, I tried again.  I think I was successful as I woke three hours later rested and without pain.

Today, I worked with my own breath again along with an Alexander technique body survey.  Wonderful.  It must have lasted about 10 minutes before I added healing, love and hugs--for me, for the world, for the people I am holding in the Light.

I used to explode with anger.  I can see that Meditation is giving me time to pause and take better care of myself.  What a relief.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Day 2: Centering Meditation, Letting it Go

I missed the 7am "Meditate with Amanda" time, which unsettled me a little; and then I cancelled my 8am "Monday Worship with Amy" time because today the carpenters rip out my kitchen floor to replace it and I didn't hear from them and so didn't know when they would arrive.  Uncentered.  The carpenters--Rose Carpentry--finally called at 8am--to say they wouldn't begin until Wednesday. That's when anger totally de-centered me, but expressing it wouldn't help. I did gripe about the lack of communication and how I had cleared most of the kitchen.  And they said "sorry" but what else could they do?

So I chose Richard Gerner's Centering Meditation to guide me today, a meditation that I had already downloaded to my Desktop media player because Amanda had recommended Richard's page in her opening letter:
  • Download Insight Timer App onto your smart phone or tablet.  It's free and you'll have hundreds of meditations to chose from.
  • Read Mindful Path to Self-Compassion by Chris Germer.  (I downloaded it from Barnes and Nobles but it's a hard copy book.)
It is a 15-minute meditation, but I tell you that it felt like only 3 minutes!  The phrases that came to me were "Stop hurting me" then "Stop hurting" then "Let it Go" and eventually "Stop.  Let it Go." became my centering phrase. It is I who have to stop obsessing and let it go if I am going to remain centered and respect myself.

And there you have it.  My belly has softened; and this is a prayer that has God written all over it.

I am going to try to return here at night and do another meditation-while-writing that Jennifer Elam suggested to me: Where did I see--when did I spend time with--God today?

I also want to do all of Tara Brach's Meditations !  
Amanda is spending a weekend on her:  
Just listened to Tara Brach last podcast on anxiety and self aversion. Wow that hit home. I'm going to take her up on the challenge she offers there. I still haven't registered for her de conditioning the fear body workshop because... I'm afraid! But it's this weekend. Anyone interested in going?
Tara Brach's talks are HERE

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Starting November with a Mindfulness Intention

I'm starting to meditate 5 minutes a day with Amanda Kemp again.  I started here:

I started here and let it move into the next meditation too.

My intention this month is to use this--or let this use me--as the starting point of a daily discipline of prayer which will include making some notes here.  Something is moving and changing within me--moving and changing on every level.  Here I want to acknowledge the rising and the falling of that--the Light and the Shadow of the move into presence and a different kind of living.  

It is not trite to say the American cliche "Today is the first day of the rest of my life" and with Buddha "Each morning we are born again.  It is what we do today that matters most."

I fall quite often.  Perhaps I have made an art of falling and an art of talking.  Here I will attempt an art of rising and of listening--getting up and hearing.  Mindfulness is being present.  Assertion of self was necessary to earn a living against all odds and to have earned this time for self and action as God led.  Now it is time to trust in presence rather than what has worked for me in the past.

So may it be.