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Come meander with me on the pathless path of the Heart
in these anecdotal,
sometimes inspiring, sometimes personal meanderings of the Heart's opening in the every-day-ness of Life...

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Grocery Store Wisdom

Today was my usual grocery shopping and errand day – the usual Tuesday routine. The grocery store, I’m discovering, provides more than Produce, Poultry and Pastries. It is not only good fodder for blog, but also provides a variety of wisdom – when noticed. It is a real good place for noticing, for awareness, for seeing how The Mystery has morphed Itself into various forms. And I’m not just talking Broccoli, Carrots, Pears and Onions here, but most especially the two-legged kind with varying shapes, sizes and expressions, from the little playful munchkins clinging to their Moms – or not – to the elderly, seemingly weighed down by their life experience, appearing a little lost and confused. From happy radiant faces to stressed, angry and fearful faces – and everyone else in between with varying degrees of expression – yet all the expression of The One – living Itself in form. Interesting… And I wonder what they see when they are looking back at me… Hmmmm - another noticing happening here. How conscious or unconscious am I really in the way that I relate to this multi-media world that we share.

Today’s wisdom noticed seemed to be about awareness and flow. Maybe I’ll do a weekly Tuesday blog on Grocery Store Wisdom – in addition to the other blogs – stay tuned!

On my grocery day I normally visit three different stores. Today was the same. When I got to the third store and started to turn into the parking lot I noticed a construction crew right there diggin’ up the pavement, which impeded entering the lot, narrowing the flow of traffic in and out through this one entry way. But, the cars seemed to be taking their turns, one allowing the other to go, and then another would go next. It all seemed to flow. It was my turn. Just as I pulled out around the orange cones that marked off the construction area, a young woman in a black car pulled out from the side isle of parked cars right in front of me. Evidently she wasn’t aware of the etiquette involved. :) She was also on her cell phone. Because she couldn’t make the complete turn around me, she was now blocking the flow of traffic and I was stuck in the middle with cars behind me and her in front of me and construction to the side of me. I was peeved. She eventually maneuvered through and got out of the way, while still chatting on her cell phone. Now I know this is not supposed to bother me… being “spiritual” and all. :) I’m supposed to be able to step back into the noticing, into what’s actually seeing this, and allow the flow, or not, of life events, but – people driving while on cell phones is a pet peeve – or maybe it’s their un-awareness that irritates me. Anyway, my mind moved out of the present, and immediately went off into an internal tirade of thinking that went something like: if she hadn’t been on her cell phone she might have been aware enough to see what was going on around her – the blame sputter. Moot point by now, as she was long gone and I had pulled ahead, but the venting felt good – although I knew it was utterly useless. :) So I parked the car and emotionally shifted down. I went into the store and got the last few things I needed from my list, then headed for the check out.

There was a man in front of me who put his items up on the conveyor belt, while he was waiting for the person in front of him to be checked out. I patiently waited, then reached in and put one of those dividers behind his order so that I might place my items there. And then after I placed my goods on the belt, I automatically placed another divider behind my items, as there was a woman behind me.

Suddenly I heard a voice in my ear saying, “Thank you.” It startled me. I thought maybe I was being visited by an angel. :) It certainly wouldn’t be thanking me for my little tirade in the car just a few minutes before. Oh yes, I noticed my little rant and the thinking that created it. I gently turned and saw a smiling, slightly elderly face right at my shoulder, and she said again, in a soft low voice, “Thank you for putting that divider there. It’s the little things…” I smiled back at her, and responded in a knowing manner, thinking of what had just transpired in the parking lot: the movement of unconsciousness that had blocked the flow, and of course my unconscious reactive reaction to it. We engaged in a moment of delightful laughter, about what, I can’t exactly remember, engaging the cashier as well. All three of us – strangers - left the encounter with huge grins and laughs. Unbeknownst to this woman she had created a delightful moment of connection and reminded me once again of the wisdom and flow of simple awareness.

Awareness - It’s the little thing that keeps the flow going.

Heart Smiles – MeANderi
www.ASerenitySanctuary.com

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Just Stop

Yesterday I kept hearing this little phrase in my head: Just Stop. I have heard this many times in the past. I know when I hear this it is wise to follow, so I don’t end up in the middle of an intersection broad-sided by an event. But, as usual, the day was filled with “doing,” so the little voice was a faint echo in the back of my head. I was busy catching up on things, as life has been hectic here lately, intensely working over the last several weeks to get the Serenity website up and published. I have been letting other things slide – including meditation time. (But at last the website has arrived for all the world to see… Drum roll please… Just kidding.)

Yesterday I kept thinking, well if I can just catch up on all this other “stuff” now, then I can designate tomorrow as my “stopping” day. I would be able to have leisurely time in stillness, meditating, journaling, possibly time outside laying in the hammock, and just BE-ing - in whatever form that took… Heh, heh, heh… Instead I once again managed to fill the space of today with “doing.” I was irritated with myself that I hadn’t allowed myself this “stopping” time – this time to reconnect with inner Stillness, with a sense of just BEing, with just resting in Awareness – a kind of inner retreat from the momentum of doing. Then after a late lunch I just conked out on the couch from exhaustion – finally giving in to the call to stop… But not consciously. It was a stop or else kind of thing…

Interestingly this morning I received a forwarded mailing from one of many “spiritual” web sites that I get… And the phrase that caught my eye was: “We need to just stop…” Gee, imagine that. Something was once again trying to get through to me… But I wasn’t paying attention – enough - wasn’t listening deeply enough to this inner knowing. Instead I was allowing the mind to drive – that pesky, impulsive teenager. And it seemed my mind was on some kind of excursion, looking for something else to wrap itself around – no not a tree - another doing, another thought, idea, feeling – grasping after more excitement. The mind didn’t want to settle. It likes busyness – to keep the engine revving. It likes to go from one project to the next, unconsciously – without awareness.

Was this busyness just another form of avoiding for some reason, resisting the very thing I wanted most – time for some inner Quiet…? Who knows. Consciously stopping finally occurred this evening, when the day energy quietly settled and I was able to temporarily park the mind-car in the garage. The stopping allowed me to reconnect with inner Awareness, to repose in inner Stillness and gain perspective. Now, we’ll see if the mind-car returns to the souped up hot rod version in the morning, or if it has transformed into a more reliable sedan model, as tomorrow I spend the day with my mother and I need a more reliable vehicle with which to maneuver the curves. Wish me luck!

Honk, Honk…

Heart Smiles – MeANderi
http://www.aserenitysanctuary.com/

Friday, June 26, 2009

Heart Openers

I’ve been noticing that there seems to be more reasons to cry these days. The state of the world, child abuse, poverty, the spiritual ignorance of people in power, fires, floods, tornadoes, and the global economy are reasons enough to shut down and turn off. But what I’m talking about here are the things that touch my heart and open it – although for some certainly the above would do that.

For me it is the little things, not the global issues that I can easily distance myself from, that touch me in a way that breaks my heart open. For instance, several months ago on the news they did a human interest story about blind people who were being taught how to march in a marching band while playing their instruments. Volunteers led blind people through marching routines, guiding them gently from behind with hands on shoulders or hips, to give them the feel of where their bodies needed to be while they were playing. It was heart warming enough to realize that these blind people were actually playing a musical instrument. But the fact that a group of volunteers would help them to have an experience of marching in a band just blew me away. Their blindness did not stop them from experiencing their expression of life. Wow. And it was facilitated by those willing to be available to them – to help them realize their possibilities. It opened my heart…

Then recently I went to the pet store to get cat food for our cat – Yodi Bhodi. While there I spotted the adoption area where there were cats who had been abandoned by their owners – for whatever reason – in cages. They were listless, blank eyed, like their spirits were gone. (I had given a cat to a shelter several years ago when we had to move out of state.) Some of the younger ones were meowing, wanting to be taken away – to be held and loved. My heart broke open. I wanted to take them all home. But rationality took over, as well as knowing that Yodi would not allow another cat in his territory after nearly 18 years of being an “only child.” I left the store nearly in tears. My heart ached open… I went home and hugged my cat a little closer as he patiently waited for the moment of affection to end, not wanting to ruin his reputation as ‘cat of the house.’

And then there’s kindness. Recently while grocery shopping, I was standing in the produce section, picking through the potatoes, trying to find ones that weren’t green and soft. There was another woman there at the bin, doing the same thing. In a soft English accent she said – “they don’t look too good do they?” There was such kindness in her voice, it took me by surprise. Suddenly I wanted to cry. My heart stirred open… I hadn’t expected a stranger to make a connection. The kindness of her connection touched my heart and opened it for a moment. I responded, and then quietly slipped away – as if shocked by the encounter. But the exchange touched my heart and left a lasting imprint.

I think some of us in pursuit of “spirituality” or “enlightenment” have often gotten the idea that we need to distance from our feelings, even run from them – or “spiritualize” them. I know I have - trying to stay neutral when a feeling arises, to be “spiritual”, to step back from the feeling inside and observe, almost as if it was someone else’s experience. Even the concept of being present to feelings is sometimes done to not actually feel them. And while I don’t want to collapse into my feelings, indulge in them – well sometimes - and allow them to overtake me, there is something authentic in allowing and expressing the feelings that arise in the moment that makes me more open to others, more vulnerable and less detached. Feelings, as I have discovered, open the heart. When seen with the eyes of the Heart, they give the opportunity to open to what is deeper, underneath the feeling.

The longing of the Heart is for connection and kindness, and so it responds to these expressions – with feelings. Can we be open enough to allow these feelings in, to touch us, to open us to be real with ourselves and others… It seems that it's not the big events necessarily, but the "everydayness" of life that offers these opportunities, that softly invites us to open.

My other Heart openers are: Violins - Genuine Philanthropy - People who follow their Passion – Deer - Bunny Rabbits in the yard, when they’re not eating my plants - Good Spiritual Teachers – Laughter - Grief: mine and others - Genuine Compassion – The Blog and Buddha Art at ZenDotStudio.

What are your Heart Openers? Let me know… seriously…

Heart Smiles – MeANderi
http://www.aserenitysanctuary.com/

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Guru At My Door

I have wanted a personal guru for some time now. You know, one you can sit across from, face to face, and ask all the questions that you have ever thought to ask; to be instructed in the ways of life, meditation & spiritual navigation. These days you can get at least a part of this from reading and listening to “spiritual teachers” in their books, or on tape, CD and DVD, Internet satsang, and so forth. But of course I want the real deal to show up at my door. When the student is ready the teacher will come, kind of thing. I am unable to travel to places like India, or even attend local satsang with itinerant teachers due to various physical and health issues. It just never seems to work for me. But I often wish a guru would come to my door and instill me with their wisdom… The “mystic” identity dies hard…

Today, as I was hanging a load of laundry in our guest bathroom, the clothes I didn’t want to run through the drier, I heard the doorbell ring, so I went down the stairs and opened the front door. A small, stocky middle aged man with a baseball type cap on was standing there holding a clipboard and a plastic bag with a Schwans logo on it. Now - we have a “no soliciting” sign posted at the entrance to the walkway that leads to the front door. So of course I’m feeling a little irritated that this solicitor evidently couldn’t read the sign. And I can imagine the disgusted look on my face. I know, I’ve seen it in the mirror looking back at me and it’s not a welcoming sight! It says you have crossed my boundary, back away slowly, which might have explained his somewhat cowered look. But he was brave enough to ask if I would be interested in anything from Schwans. (Schwans, for anyone who doesn’t know delivers prepackaged, frozen food items to your door.)

When he spoke, the loveliest East Indian accent poured forth from his being and I melted. I don’t understand why this happens to me. My husband knows a woman from Nepal and I discovered that I can’t stop crying when she talks to me. Strange but true, so I don’t talk to her very often…

Anyway, I am now intrigued by this little man from India who I was able to discover has lived here since 1995 and obviously trying to make a living for his family. I am not interested in pre-packaged, frozen foods, but I am interested in hearing his lilting Indian accent. So I ask if he’s from India – duh – but he politely answers and asks me if I have ever been there, to which I reply, “No, but I have some spiritual friends who have. “Oh yes”, he replies, “there ar a lot of spiritual peopel dere.” I then boldly ask him if he meditates. To which he replies, “Oh yes, I medi-tate evry-dey. Dhats the only wey to get through the dey, otherwise I would do stupid tings.” I laughingly said, “Well I meditate too, but I still do stupid things.” With that he broke into laughter while covering his mouth with his hand, for politeness I assume. But I could see the twinkle in his eyes, and am assuming my face softened as we made our connection.

I still didn’t want the foods he was selling, but he took my name “just in case,” and gave me his personal number on a Schwans’ receipt. His name was Raj. We both broke away from the encounter wishing the other a good day. I closed the door and went back to hanging up the laundry. I found myself wanting to go running out the door after him. I pictured myself running after him calling out wait, wait, come back, come and talk some more! Come tell me of your wisdom, of what you know, of what the universe is about… Come, let’s sit on the cushion together… But alas he was gone, my little guru, who in our brief encounter put a smile back in my heart and on my face, and reminded me that meditating was a good way to get through the day. After all, isn’t that what gurus are for, to remind you how to navigate through life! I now hope he stops by again just to check and see if I want anything, or rather, so I can hear that lyrical voice that brightened my heart.

While I understand that gurus don’t literally show up at your door – necessarily. It is my experience that when I am “ready” to see something that I need to see, I will find the “guru” that I need, in different forms. For instance, 2 years ago, when I was ready to understand where the mind goes when it’s not in the present moment, I found Richard Moss’ book, The Mandala of Being and his online e-courses (http://www.richardmoss.com/). Last August I re-discovered Adyashanti in the form of his radio satsang broadcasts for a sense of clarity (http://www.adyashanti.org/). And in December I found Scott Kiloby’s book: Love’s Quiet Revolution – The End of the Spiritual Search, when I was ready to see that I had been trapped in my personal story, the story of “me”, the dream self. (http://www.kiloby.com/)

When we’re ready the “teacher” does comes.

Who’s knocking at your door?

Heart Smiles, MeANderi
http://www.aserenitysanctuary.com/

Monday, June 22, 2009

Where does Life want to go?


I am a list person. I start my day with a list of things I hope to accomplish, an agenda. Invariably the list never gets finished, which then spills over into my list for the next day, and so on through the week.

On any given day my list may look something like:

Make calls
Website/blog stuff
Write
Laundry
Errands
Email so and so…
Read favorite blogs
Watch Scott’s you tube videos
Call Mom
Work on creative projects
Iron Shirts for B – yes I still Iron
Water the garden/weed
Prune the Rose Bush
Read/Listen to CD’s
Clean the kitchen/bathrooms
Vacuum/Dust
Meditate

It may not look like much, but with distractions a few of those things won’t get done, probably the cleaning and ironing, and maybe some of the creative activities, and probably the reading. And meditation won’t happen til nearly midnight, just before bed. And now that I’m doing a blog… Well you get the picture.

So I’ve learned that I don’t need to fill up my day with activities – well almost learned. It dawned on me that it’s not a race to see how much I can get done, or how productive I can be so that I can justify my existence – something I learned from my parents.

Being a “Mystic Meandering” I am learning to go with the flow, the flow of Life at any given moment – the inner River of Being. So each morning before my feet hit the floor, I try to consciously remember to ask:

Where does Life want to go today?
How can I move consciously with the movement of Life today?

Sometimes I don’t need to ask. Life just takes me into the day.

I still create my list, it’s my framework, so-to-speak. Like those of you who work a full-time job outside the home, or have children and other responsibilities, your daily “job” becomes, in a sense, your framework for the requirements of daily living. But then within that “framework” where does LIFE want to go? Kind of like the chop wood, carry water philosophy with awareness – you still gotta do the chores, but you begin to wonder, who is really doing the doing, kind of thing, and is that “something” drawing me to do something else… And am I listening well enough to hear it…

I am curious. So one day when I asked this question I tried to stay aware to where my day was going and what I ended up doing, and it pleasantly surprised me.

Instead of feeling harried, pressing forward, I slowed down – internally – opened more to each moment as I went through the day, accomplishing what needed to be done – not necessarily what I wanted done according to my pre-ordained list. And there still seemed to be time for more.

After lunch I literally found myself – and became consciously aware that I was - clearing out the area just under our bay window in the living room where we have several plants in pots sitting on the floor – where Yodi Bodhi likes to sun himself. Over time the old, dead leaves had dropped off behind the pots where it was not easy to get to, making quite a mess that required moving all the plants out and vacuuming – time consuming. I had known for a while that I needed to add this task to my daily list, but I kept putting it off. And then spontaneously, in the immediacy of the moment, without thinking about it, I just flowed into the activity. It had not been planned. I was amused. I smiled to myself in a knowing kind of way… Ah, so this is where Life wanted to go today…

It’s just life happening as it happens. And so my daily challenge is to live as life comes, the way it comes, being available to the movement of Life in any given moment, as it wants to live me.

Where does Life want to take you today…?

Life living Itself!

Heart Smiles – MeANderi
http://www.aserenitysanctuary.com/