Presence, Patience, Simplicity

Mindfulness. It’s become such a buzz word, much like “yoga”. And yet, the practice is popular and now mainstream precisely because it offers simple methods for cultivating greater awareness of the present moment.

In other words, mindfulness empowers us to more fully live our lives by fully embodying our experience from moment to moment. Not escaping into illusion or delusion, addiction or habit-patterns, mindless scrolling or empty gossip.

Mindfulness, heartfulness, pure consciousness, heart-centered awareness. Semantics. Yet words can help. Concepts can be of assistance. Eventually the words, techniques, concepts, ideas, opinions, memories and plans for the unknown future fade away. There is just this One Love.

Yet alongside this miraculous beauty is a dark shadow side, a seedy, shady, sad, sick side. We must bring light to this shadow and deal with all the -isms our society has created, all the borders and security measures and rules and regulations and political correctness and the racism, sexism, patriotism, narcissism, consumerism, capitalism, careless shortsightedness and destruction of Mother Earth.

Mindfulness, you see, is not all lollipops and rainbows. It encompasses all, everything that arises and passes away. With practice, we learn to see things on a continuum, within a vast spectrum. We expand our consciousness and raise our vibration. We tune in more and more with the One Love of All That Is. We serve others, giving of ourselves for the betterment of beings less fortunate, less lucky to have been born into wealth or at least not into poverty.

Present-moment-awareness is gorgeous and simple. There are many anchors that can bring us back right here and now when the mind wanders. Of course, there are also times when it is good and helpful to contemplate and reflect on the past or plan and set goals for the short and long-term future. Most of our days, however, are ideally spent focusing on the present, being kind to ourselves and others, cultivating compassion, peace, balance and wisdom.

By paying attention to whatever is occurring in the present moment, we can connect with a sense of gratitude for the gift of breath and life, a sense of wonder for what this day or experience is here to teach us, and a sense of open-minded curiosity for what adventures await us next.

When I get that feeling, I want sexual healing!

I must admit it kind of freaks me out to have written and published this, but I’m reading two books simultaneously about the yoga of intimacy and sexuality and so I got inspired. Sex is something we are ashamed of as a society. The more that people can talk and write and read about sex and intimacy, the more we can shine light on the shadow and heal the wounds around sexuality that culture imposes.

So here it is:

My journey of sexual, spiritual healing.

(Don’t read it.)

Learning to Connect, Connecting to Learn

At some point in the history of humanity and schooling, “academics” became a separate, stand-alone category, considered the most essential part of school, the “instruction” and “learning,” in today’s parlance.

The reading, writing and ‘rithmatic, along with science, social studies and all the other arbitrary subject areas. “Academics” as opposed to art, athletics, or extracurricular activities.

Imagination and spirit were oppressed. The notion of connecting with our own inner spirit or soul (or heart or shadow) at school was distilled and deformed down to the debate over “prayer in schools”—i.e. whether or not it was okay for Christian prayers to be recited at school or  school-sponsored events such as football games. (It wasn’t, thanks to separation of church and state and the right to religious freedom, though religion still creeps into plenty of public schools.)

Learning to connect is the key to learning, but with what? Our own inner selves—our personalities and all their quirks, strengths, needs, passions, interests. Our breath and bodies. Our minds—emotions, thoughts, ideas and plans. In summation, our total being, and that includes spirituality.

Can we do this within a school or learning community without venturing into the realm of religion? The growing popularity of mindfulness and yoga in schools indicated that the answer is yes. Regular practice of non-dogmatic techniques of meditation can help people of all ages better handle stress and maintain good health and overall well-being.

By connecting, we learn, in a conscious way, every day, all the time. By knowing ourselves and thereby being able to learn what we want and need to learn, we ourselves can blossom and flourish and help others to do the same.

How can we connect with nature? Our own selves? Family and friends?

How can we learn to connect with the flow of Life, or God, or the Universe (that trickiest of things to name because it is so immense and unnameable)?

By connecting in these ways, what do we learn?


August 2015

A Spiritual Connection
Centering, Circles and Spirals
Disconnect & Reconnect 
How to Own Your Shadow

A Spiritual Education

“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.” ~ Elisabeth Kubler Ross

Is there such a thing as peace or justice in a world where depression and anxiety are rampant, people are starving and people are obese, cancer, chemicals and drugs poison our cells, neighbors are isolated and mass shootings are commonplace?

What if we shift our paradigm?

From independence to interdependence?
From “the greatest” to a great among greats?
From the rat race to a global community of collaborative, lifelong learners?

What if learning is a spiritual practice and process — as well as a physical, intellectual, emotional endeavor?

Here’s a simple guided meditation on our “butterfly mind” — full of thoughts, ideas, memories and plans, always fluttering away from the present. Continue reading