Clear Lens Moments

volcanoclouds

It was one of those days when the air was washed and polished like a lens. Everything was crisp and clear. Springtime in California.

I could see each individual leaf shimmering on the tree and was simultaneously taking in the whole tree in its magnificent glory. The colors were more vivid, the wind more meaningful, each breath poignant.

As I drove away from Green Gulch Farm, I felt a natural high like none other. Each moment, whatever it contained, was perfect, abundant, simple and miraculous. It wasn’t until leaving the Zen center grounds after my five-day personal retreat that I realized how much more mindful I had become. I was ultra-sensitive to my surroundings, noticing the details, savoring the natural beauty all around me, more embodied in my body than maybe ever before.

This blissful state of heightened awareness lasted for a good week or two. That was April, 2004. Now, with the gift of retrospect, I can pinpoint a few other moments in the 13+ subsequent years in which my formal practice seeped silently, secretively into my everyday life. Tiny moments of illumination. That time in my bedroom in Guate when I was doing a standing backbend and the epiphany hit me. A voice that spoke from deep within said, “Move to the lake.” I cried tears of sudden joy, because I knew then that Lake Atitlan was where I was meant to be.

Another clear lens moment occurred January 6, 2013, as I was sitting on a hospital bed, listening to Across the Universe on repeat on my headphones, having taken the doctor’s orders to calm down so that he could perform the unexpected c-section. Jai Guru Deva, Aum…. nothing’s gonna change my world/nothing’s gonna change my world. Limitless undying love that shines around me like a million suns… I shifted from fear-fueled sobs to a quiet, tranquil state. When I saw my daughter’s little face and perfect head full of dark brown hair, my mind was empty of anything but love (and morphine of course; thank you, epidural!).

The air was washed and polished like a lens, too, one midsummer’s day in 2001. I was sailing on Lake Travis with my family. I could see the water and sky, could perceive the spectacular sunset and feel that I should be appreciating its beauty and the gift of my life, but depression absolutely blocked any absorption of gratitude, happiness or even okay-ness. Depression distorted the lens, making everything blurry and hopeless.

My most recent clear-lens experiences have been less monumental, more everyday. The little moments, the frequent pauses when I can sit still, take a sip of tea, look around and soak in the beauty. The gorgeousness of the lake and volcanoes never fails to astound me. I can even (sometimes) see the beauty in the disarray in which our household is often found. The stuffed animals lined up in the hammock, the pile of storybooks by Jade’s bed, the muddy paw prints our dog leaves on the wooden planks of the patio.

I am eternally grateful to Guatemala, every human and animal, stone and flower, fire and body of water that has crossed my path in my time here. The breeze has cleansed the air and polished my lens in such wonderfully unexpected ways.

December 10 – Ananda (Joy)

A positive frame of mind is a habit. How have you silenced the propaganda factory of negativity with positive thought and behavior in your life in 2011? How has this changed your day-to-day being?
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Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.” ~Franklin D. Roosevelt
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Heidi Johnson provided today’s reverb prompt.

 

achieve joy through chocolate

December 28 – Achieve. What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today.

Well, I’m really into letting go of the need to achieve. My goal is to have no goals. And, anyway, I am already free, happy, complete and blissful without achieving anything. However, it’s hard for a goal-oriented gal to let go of all goals. I would like to read more books in Spanish in order to improve my vocabulary. I also intend to practice yoga and mindfulness meditation every single day of my life. That is all.

December 27 – Ordinary Joy. Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year?

Some of my most joyful ordinary moments involved impromptu hangouts with my next door neighbors, Phil and Debbie. They are sixty year old grandparents who raised their family in rural Maine and then uprooted themselves and moved to Guatemala to try something new last year (2009), at the same time I did. They are cool parental figures, wise friends and fun, generous neighbors. I am so grateful to live next door to these amazingly kind people who tell great stories and invite me over for dinner incessantly.

December 26 – Soul Food. What did you eat this year that you will never forget? What went into your mouth & touched your soul?

Chocolate. I was in Xela this summer, staying with a Guatemalan family. I was a little depressed, content to lie around and read Spanish novels all day long. One day, I went with my Guatemalan mamá and learned to make chocolate from cacao beans. The process was exhausting and I barely even did anything! That chocolate truly melted in my mouth and I could taste all the love and work that went into it. I will never look at (or taste) chocolate the same way!