Friday/Chanting the Guru Gita/Loss/Finding and Staying Curious

History Mantra

A cold, bright autumn November morning. A new down coat that covers my bottom.
Warm. Zipping up the two separate pieces of nylon filled with duck feathers I think, “may all beings be warm.”
I chanted the Guru Gita this morning. Do you know it? I chanted it every day during my second pregnancy.
At 38. With Ian (in belly).
I need to ask if he heard me.
No longer on that spiritual path I discover (still) much history:
Travel, marriage/divorce. Birth/betrayal.
I was looking for the “one” some ONE/thing who would tell me/show me.
Accept me.
But, you see, I love to sing/chant. Sanskrit is pure love in my throat.
Bhakti.
Continuing to work with loss of someone who, although I didn’t know all that well or for very long and yet.
And yet, changed my life.
Irrevocably. How many opportunities have I been given in this life where I’ve been allowed to sit with the body right before/during and after he/she has left?
Some left quickly while others lingered. And you.
She.
You hovered for nearly three hours. This completely odd juxtaposition of grief and shock and what, bliss?
No, complete freedom. You let me feel that didn’t you?
It could have happened that I paid no notice.
But, I did.
The veil, still thinner than one’s breath.
It seems a secret that gets carried around.
In me. I discover it one day in my left shoulder. Another day, in the occipital ridge.
At another time, the souls of my feet.
This embodiment is tricky business. It’s planting me more in my life.
Now.
And now.

While chanting, I watched as many storied memories floated by.
India: I have no proof I was there. No pictures. History stored.
For me:
In the gazebo.
3 am walk to the meditation hall while the dew master removed the crystallized wetness from each blade of grass. I see Baba’s statue dancing and I think I’ve finally arrived having had my first vision. Gurumayi psychically pierces my heart, I look up to see her heading directly towards me.
And you said, “what about me?”
And I thought, this was enlightenment.

And now a new now and here. Open wide. Edges softening.
My own intimacy, with myself. Allowing it to be.
Maitri.
Sangha.
Embodiment.

Awake at three am to let out Tara. Left arm with pin point pain in a new location.
Piercing the fascia. It feels brown and full and sad.
Embodying one’s life isn’t thinking about being in the body or observing the motions/movements of the movement.
We are sensing organs. Everything is experienced through this sensing mechanism.
And, we are so much more that cannot even be named.
Another lexicon necessarily required.

And, appreciation. Complete. Full. Stunning.
An articulation of gratitude for atoms/molecules/awareness/teaching/children/lovers/sponsors/friends/beloved four-leggeds.
Life partner.

Be kind.
You are love.
We are.
Love.

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and then some….

the welcoming

This season of change, of going inward.
Deep.
I’ve taken a little break from editing my book. Somehow I just needed to create space:
between me and the story and my coach. I’ve needed to allow the story to take on a new simmer if you will. But the story, and its main character walks around with me,
all the time and everywhere.

I said okay, you can do that. And while she’s made herself at home, I’ve been watching myself go through deep changes with my spiritual path.

First, it’s dynamic, no doubt. A nearly thirty-five year path from one system or lineage to another, mostly within the framework of Buddhism. Tibetan, vipassana and zen.
And so, I shouldn’t be too surprised that I find myself coming full circle and meeting my twenty-five year old self and the path (seeds) that for whatever reasons (karma) wasn’t meant to germinate until now.

There is something really beautiful in hearing things, reading things, I’ve heard and read before as if for the very first time. This is a great teaching. Everything changes. Can be experienced anew. A light, a book,  a person, a chance, a teacher, a path.
A new set of eyes and ears.
A fresh open heart.
I feel such gratitude and warm appreciation for:
all of it.
You.

before

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Experimental Writing, Making Images and More

 

It's All an Experiment

It’s all an experiment

I’m keeping a journal about the journey of editing my book. I wrote 50,000 words in a writing challenge last November, NanoWrimo. I wanted to explore a character who came alive for me in a dream in 2006.
She had a very distinct voice from the beginning. And now, she’s a many dimensional young woman. Working with a writing coach, I’ve re-written 2 chapters. I didn’t really write chapters, I just called them such as I wrote every day. Every day, another chapter.

And now, after the second chapter. My coach reminded me the usual format in which one submits a piece of work to a publisher. There are a fair amount of rules/devices that can be employed when writing. I am self taught so learning the craft of writing is important.
I am finding though, that even making small (seemingly) changes here and there, I’ve already caused a stir in the writing, in her voice? in where the story is headed.
Tension on every page. I think, I don’t care too much for confrontation in my own life. I prefer things smooth. Maybe its denial or maybe I’ve learned how to “pick my battles” or maybe it’s something more.
Being right, getting my way, standing up for myself;
all these have very different meanings and level of importance at this point in my life.

I’ve been wondering about experimental writing. What was considered experimental even as recent as 20 years ago, isn’t what’s happening now. And I would prefer not to alienate the reader. And at the same time, being true to Katya’s voice/circumstances/experiences/time/frame of reference.
References of time. Multi-dimensionality.
So, what is experimental now? Not wanting to indent my paragraphs (Mary, you rebel).
Shifting narrative voices. Altering/shifting time. Taking the reader along and sometimes not letting them know where they’re at.
Poetic prose.
Words.
Voice. circumstances. Bringing out and up from the underbelly.
Visceral. Somatic writing. What am I feeling in my gut.
In the hands/fingers, tips of that are touching the black keys with white lettering.

It rained a good portion of the day. I was cold and took a hot bath.
When the writing is confusing for me, I make images. It makes me feel that I’m processing about my writing through another creative avenue.
It’s much easier to be experimental with photography. The rules are (can be) made up
as I go along.
But I’m glad I’m journaling about writing the book. I know I have always loved reading others process in creating.
Here’s an author who I’d consider somewhat experimental, at least I feel that she stayed true to how she wanted to present her heart.

From Ongoingness, The End of a Diary by Sarah Mauguso
“…The catalog of emotion that disappears when someone dies, and the degree to which we rely on a few people to record something of what life was to them, is almost too much to bear.”

But wait, I just found something even more absolutely on point.

“I often prefer writer’s diaries to their work intentionally for publication. It’s as if I want the information without the obstacles of style or form, and in good writing they aren’t obstacles.”

“Another friend said, I want to write sentences that seem as if no one wrote them. The goal being the creation of a pure delivery system, without the distraction of a style. The goal being a form no one notices, the creation of what seems like pure feeling, not of what seems like a vehicle for a feeling. Language as pure experience, pure memory. I too wanted to achieve that impossible effect.”

I know what she means.

And, yes.

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Reflections of the Sacred Feminine

Something Revealed

Something Revealed

I’ve begun reading a book that I will probably not finish. I won’t say the title because, I’m have misgivings about it. And, I don’t want to be rude. Everyone has the right to say what they feel/believe/think. But I wonder, why is a man writing about the return of the sacred feminine? After one chapter, I’m already suspicious and I’m skipping sentences, then paragraphs and now, I’m half way through the book.

Maybe I’m reading it because through the contrast of his words and my own experience/feelings/emotions, it is helping define my  understanding of
things.
Being a woman.
He says as women, we hold, usually unconsciously, the instinctual knowledge of all of creation.
In our physical bodies.
I’d like to stop right there. I think this is all I want from this book for now.

Because I am feeling this now. Consciously. It is visceral.
An ache in my neck is a cry for the homeless floating out at sea.
The pain in my back is a felt recognition of the racism that permeates this world.
The burst/a quickening in my heart/solar plexus reminds me of the joy one can experience when connecting with nature.
My stomach gurgles, nauseous from food cooked in a restaurant. My dogs’ tummy gurgles in unison.

Another author I’m reading, Bhanu Kapil, in a blog post recently, speaks to the experience of bodywork and what having your body worked on represents/feels like.
The felt experience of life and memory and history/herstories.
Bone and flesh and layered skin and the beating of the four chambers pushing blood, rhythmically throughout the universe of one human body.

Do I/we all of us, any of us, “have to” remember, re-visit, re-tell, over and over the “sins of our fathers (ancestors/mothers/fathers/brothers/sisters/all two-leggeds in order for:
1. peace
2.transformation
3.a planet that will survive
4.understanding the interdependence
5.unity

something even greater than god/goddess.
A something so incredibly vast and huge and unspeakable there simply won’t ever be
a correct word to describe it?

There truly is an unbearable lightness of being.
And, the secret is that it is more than bearable, if we are willing to open up our minds and move into our hearts, where the truth really is.

I took the picture above earlier today when we were walking into the grocery store. At first, the feather caught my attention because the last assignment for the contemplative photography course I’m taking asks us to make images of what is referred to as
“dot in space”. A “something” in contrast to a “space”.
Later I thought, perhaps the feather was seeking respite from the heat of the day.
And then I was filled with a tenderness
and a breaking open.

This is the secret revealed.
And it is always there.

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Goddesses, Healers and Trust

Saraswati

It’s late.
For me.
11:30 pm and I’m usually on my way to Mary’s version of deep sleep.
Meaning maybe I’ll make it to 2 or 3 am before getting up.
This morning feels like it began 2 days ago.
A meeting with my writing coach. So grateful the universe saw fit that our
lives should converge.
Timing.
Trusting.
I can allow the mind to wander into the other dimensions reaching out
for creations new and otherwise unknown.
And, I won’t go crazy. Allowing.
More trusting.
In the dynamic movement of creativity.

When I was in my twenties, I glided towards a guru and the teachings of the east.
Vedanta, the Upanishads, Kashmir Shaivism.  Bhakti yoga.
Chanting. Sanskrit. I had come home.
I traveled to India with the man who would become the father of my two beautiful sons.
The guru and the man are gone but so much still remains. These deep connections never
leave but transform/morph into
other.
Feeling such a strong pull to Saraswati, the goddess of music/knowledge/letters (writing).
Lakshmi, goddess of prosperity/abundance.
Gratitude.
I found a woman who has a website dedicated to chanting and some of the chants that
filled my time during my ashram days.
We, (the boys father) and I lived for three months in the guru’s ashram. A small town two
hours west of what then (1986) was called Bombay. We awoke every morning at dawn, dew deep/wet on the grass walking to the main courtyard to sit and chant the Guru Gita.
It continues to remain a beautiful memory.

I was listening to the Guru Gita tonight. An hour and a half of thanksgiving to the universal guru. I remember I chanted it nearly every morning during my second
pregnancy.
I don’t believe in one authoritarian/hierarchical god.
And/but
when I chant I am moved to believe and include everything/every path I’ve ever
walked in this lifetime and all
other paths unknown to me from all my previous lifetimes.
The heart explodes/all four chambers enlarging and expanding.
A lullaby for the worlds troubles.
An offering.

Sleep well.

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Lineages, Gratitude and Prayers

Margaret's wedding gown/zen matriarchal lineage

Margaret’s wedding gown/zen matriarchal lineage

My maternal grandmother’s wedding gown. I used to play dress up in it when I was
a little girl. One of the few things I still have of my mothers after she died 9 years ago.
I have a small green tin that she saved recipes in. On 3×6 cards. Some of them have her
own cursive handwriting. It feels alive. I have a calendar she must have bought when she and Dad went to Ireland for their 25th wedding anniversary. I still can’t believe they traveled to another country, not once but twice! First Ireland and then Switzerland. I remember Dad saying, “Ireland was great but they serve their beer warm. I couldn’t find a cold beer anywhere!” And when they came back from Switzerland, well the food was horrible. But, what about the chocolate?!? Nope. There’s no place like home.

They were right of course. I read somewhere, one of those lovely quotes that makes you stop and think, something about, “live the kind of life that you don’t  have to go on vacation. Your life is where you want to be.” Now, that’s not to say I don’t want to travel- Nova Scotia, Ireland/Scotland/Wales. Oh, maybe Turkey and other eastern European countries. Maybe even India for a second time. The main difference is, if I don’t, that will be ok too. Being content/settled.
Filled with wonder every single day. There’s so much to see.
Become aware of. See again, each time, as if for the first.
Time.

I’ve been given so much in this lifetime.
Already.
Gifts. Breathing in.
Breathing out.
Birthing beautiful sons.

More grace. I used to think/feel.
Often. That this bigness of life. This fullness was almost unbearable.
Now I feel it’s my responsibility to honor that fullness.
Without boundaries.
Fullness unending.
Not big or small or bearable or un.
Bearable.
Completely and utterly accepting.
Endlessly
Opening
Now is a thank you
Now is the prayer.
Prayer.
Like the ocean waves rolling in.
swoosh/thank you
whoosh/thank you

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The Hummingbirds have left

Visiting

The hummingbirds have left for their travels south. The monarchs are resting on their long voyage in our butterfly bushes. They are stunning to watch.

Open.
Close. Magnificent winged creatures.
I’d like to think I’m witnessing the fourth generation. The one that will migrate to warmer climates and live for six to eight months. How kind the first three generations; living long enough (4-6 weeks), laying eggs then dying for the next generation.

Can you find generosity amongst humans?
All you have to do is look.

This life can feel overwhelming. I’ve been experiencing it in my bones, in my gut.
Learning to trust my gut; letting my heart lead instead of the mind.
Wanting to strengthen my bones so I have a stronger footing for when times are rocky.

Working with a writing coach (thank you Debra) to help me refine/strengthen, go deeper with a book I wrote last year. Do you ever have those times when you can feel, in your absolute core, how right something is? And, with each yes/nod/acknowledgement of this right, another follows suit. And then, there’s no stopping it. You’re on the positive train.

How did this happen? I have always held out for faith. I’ve always felt this sense of completely trusting in the process. Each moment leading to the next.
Ever a curiosity. Ever a miracle.

Ever.
Grace.

Always grace.

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On silence, states of exception and grace

What I haven’t been able to say.

Smiling Buddha Cabaret

-a postscript dispatch from the grief process

[I am completing this post, started weeks ago, as my elderly mother is in hospital via the emergency room more than a thousand kilometers away. We, that is family, and the doctors, at the moment, don’t know why, other than her intense pain, or what will happen. I am writing in a state of suspension and insomnia.]

97px-Aldus001

SILENCE

There is no silence in the world.
Monks have created it
to hear the horses every day
and feathers falling from wings.

~Nikola Madzirov quoted in World Poetry Portfolio #53: Nikola Madzirov

At a certain point last year I stopped writing the grief dispatches that I had been doing here after Manoj suddenly died in January. Part of it was because less than 3 months later, in April 2014, I lost someone else who had been very close to me especially when I was younger…

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Reform-ation/reforming

FullSizeRender

A few months of doctors of varying kinds. Poking and prodding.
Opinions. Non-diagnosis’. I want to have conversations/talk as equals.
I have high hopes. Expectations. They are not fulfilled.
Let down, disappointed. I find myself enacting in a behavior I have judged
others for-
chasing the diagnosis.
The cure. The answer. The why. How do you live in pain and not let it
ruin your day? Your mood. The way you treat others. Your loved ones.
My loved ones. everyone.
Anyone.
I am not my pain. Hard to do when you’re walking bent over.

And yet. Healing occurs because everything changes.
Life is dynamic and even on occasion seemingly effervescent and joy filled.

The hummingbird showers through the spray while grass is being watered in early morning light.

Acupuncture loosens what has been bound. Do you remember this?
And that? I asked for a clearer understanding of embodiment and I’m getting it.
Shown it. Feel it.
Do you know the Hindu word for these psychological knots that bind?
Sanskrit? Patanjali’s yoga sutras/somewhere in there.

I’ve been trying to get back to a daily yoga practice and every time I set out, only after a few days the body says, no.
NO!!! A burning ball of fire in the sacrum, splaying out/up/down/east and west from the center.

The kundalini rises.
It’s time and I wasn’t asked. No permission.
Oh yes you were Mary. You just forgot.

Reform the form. The body reimagined. Re-informed.
New information coming to light.
Listening is the true healer.

Listen.
Sheila Chandra is haunting.
Ever so lonely.

There is no such thing.

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IMG_5201

Torenia; common name, Wishing Flower, Blue Wings , Clown Flower
zone 5-6, prefers shade.

Staying home.

No running around.

Bodywork informs the heart through the connective tissues.

Weeding, feeling the coolness of the damp earth mix with hands.

This, is knowledge.

I contemplate racism, and white privilege and where my responsibility lies.

Any side/opinion/right/wrong creates immediate dualism. Haven’t I been pursuing the other way for a long time now? It all lends itself to fundamentalism.

I don’t want any part of it. This is not to say that I don’t want to see change.
To see us loving our brothers and sisters without judgment. It’s just that I’m not going to “fight” a “battle”. We need a new lexicon.
I know it’s complicated. It’s as complicated as, right now, in this exact moment, to not hold on to any of the past history, and change your mind.

I’ve been reading a book by Alice Walker, published a few years ago, “The Cushion in the Road: Meditation and Wandering as the Whole World Awakens to Being in Harm’s Way”.
In the section titled, Meditation, she begins with a quote from Walt Whitman:

“This is what you shall do: love the earth and the sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, reexamine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem.”

I think I’m going to vote in Alice Walker in the 2016 Presidential Election.

Sit down.

Love everyone.

Love is the answer.

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