Dead Calm

Waves breaking on Paradise Beach at LEsterre Bay with an old fishing boat on the shore and the turqoise sea and Sandy Island sand bar beyond, Grenada

Sandy Island sand bar beyond, Grenada: By robertharding.com

Today, I send into your meditation the plateau. Many a dieter knows the feeling. Early efforts in their weight loss program brought swift and great results, but deeper into the discipline of eating and exercising they hit a plateau and they feel as if their progress has stagnated. They lose faith and “fall off the wagon” so to speak, believing their set goal is now unattainable.

Meditators can do this, too. Make a commitment to daily sitting, have incredible experiences at the start, see great results, but then after a time it just feels routine. As if we sit day in and day out and we feel like we’re making no meaningful progress.

We remind ourselves that there are no goals in meditation or seeking. It’s not about chasing the butterfly but remaining still that it might alight upon our hand instead and other such notions of stillness. Lovely thoughts, of course, but when we see ourselves engaging in behaviors we’d hoped meditation would’ve rid us of, such as, easy impatience or irritation, we can feel we’ve hit some weird peace plateau. We’re calmer, more peaceful, but there’s a boundary of some sort we can’t get past. We find ourselves still with self-critical thoughts or battling a vague sense of unworthiness.

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Sailboat in a dead calm: from Meditationroom.org

We start looking for other strategies, believing meditation has taken us as far as we can go. Or we come to believe this is just as good as it gets, maybe.

Plateaus offer us two very powerful opportunities. The first is the state of adjustment. We see plateaus as stagnation, when really they are points of adjusting to our newer self. Just like hiking a mountain where the legs dearly love straightaways where they can recoup before the next climb, plateaus offer us the same thing. A chance to regroup and adjust to this newer version of us that has been evolving within our practice.

And too, as losing weight too fast can cause huge setbacks, we need time to adjust to new states of being. Spots on the path where we can integrate all that we’ve absorbed in our practice, before moving on. These periods of integration and adjustment help us advance our practice. It’s those, seemingly uneventful, straightaways that allow us to garner new energy for the next leg of our spiritual journey.

Second, plateaus frequently have important gifts we have yet to see. The wind has vacated our sails and we sit in calm water, because there is something here. Something important for us to grasp, learn, take in, and/or understand in some fashion. This dead calm in the midst of our journey is a gift. The plateau has a deep and meaningful purpose. There is a gem of understanding waiting for us to become mindful to that is right in front of us. Now is the time to double down and really sink into our practice.

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From Pinterest

Rarely is what we’re needing to observe hard to find. Usually, it’s staring us right in the face; requiring little more than true mindfulness. What are we thinking about day to day, minute to minute? What emotions are lingering either clearly like a constant irritation or quieter, behind our general thinking, like sorrow? How are we behaving? How do we treat ourselves and others? What are our complaints really about? What worries hold sway?

If we spend time mindfully watching ourselves in the same detached way we sit, we will often find nuggets of awareness that have become as Story Water’s refers to as ‘wallpaper’. Stuff we’ve been thinking, feeling, doing for so long it’s simply become wallpaper in our lives. Things we tolerate within ourselves that aren’t serving us at all. To see them, we often need to be stuck in one spot, until we stop seeing the spot we’re in as familiar and begin to see it with new eyes.

The plateau is here for us to stop moving, intentionally, and look more deeply at what is before us. It is not a block to progress, but rather a powerful indicator of a place we’ve brought ourselves to, to see, hear, feel, and heal something vital within us. The plateau is part of our progress, not outside of it.

So if we’ve lost our wind and the sails hang still, we need to take a deep breath. Put in check the seductive desire to complain about where we are. Take a seat and recommit to the journey we so wisely stepped onto however many moons ago. Either give ourselves permission, time and space to integrate all that we’ve developed within, to this point, or get curious and alert and look around. There are likely pearls of wisdom and understanding falling all about our feet. The moment we are in now, has everything we seek and will move us forward when the timing is right and the wind’s steady.

If you enjoyed this piece, I would be delighted if you checked out my book using this link or the link above. Namaste…

Flight of Love

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Rainy gate by Noelle


At the Delta gate watching travelers swirl all around me. Each with a life of stories about to lift off to another tale somewhere. I step in with them eagerly.

Wait staff greet me with a smile and deliver a delicious and nourishing breakfast. The manager’s hand warm as he shook mine. I feel his gratitude for someone’s awareness of his gate-side establishment. I imagine many pass this way, never looking twice.

Anonymous in a crowd.
The curse of our societies these days.

Security line a breeze, even as TSA searched my bag, tricked by four pounds of the best Block Island fudge heading to colleagues back home. The delight in a new story of fudge mistaken for C-4 explosives.

Rain pelts the runways and I am filled with an equal force of love passing through me. How fortunate to breathe in this next breath on a rainy Sunday morning, my own next tale unfolding before me on each step. It’s as if the world flows into me unabated and unrestrained.

Such small things to attend to, yet they lift me past my old mind. Lift me aloft on trade-winds that will take me to some new shore. There is a freshness in my mind I wish to deeply savor.

Energy moves down the vessels of each arm, my finger tips tingling. I look at my hands and they almost seem like someone else’s. What good can they do in this life they’ve yet to attempt? Who will I become if I unleash them on everything I touch? How much am I made of a magic so exquisite it floods from me touching ever soul I look upon? What if in this moment I am a force of love that floods this Delta gate, as the Mississippi floods the Louisisana delta?

To step into such love now, as I step onto this plane… Not later in meditation, but now, eyes open, fully wake, completely present, totally in love.

Reflection on Water

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Reflection on Water. Vancouver, BC by Lionel Phillippe


A softness opens within me
Mirrored deftly by a wind that
Envelopes my skirt and
Lifts a hair off my brow

The more I let go
The subtler I become
Welcomed joyously as a child
Dashes to the surf

No resistance to the careful way
Spirt rearranges my soul
Look how pliable and
Permeable I am!

I grow upwards a great seaweed forest
Blooming beneath summer waves
So porous that light – refracts
Passing through and pooling in my hands
Dhyana Mudra

Laughter reverberates off every wall
Yet a warm dark nothingness is plain and
So deep it can’t be touched
Love ever present

I skid across its quiet, mysterious surface
A reflection, a flicker
A precious nugget of time
A single tick on an infinite clock

See my light dance
Wave to wind
Wind to wave
I am this for only a second

Time passes, I grow softer still
Till one day I am so gentled
I slip back into the deep
A shaft of light
Embraced fully, richly
By a more loving tide

Dragonfly Wings

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Dragonfly wing pattern : Pinterest

Such a small space between you and me
You could take my breath with just an inhale
I exhale to give you more
Heat vibrates between us
As summer on dunes in distant lands
Held are we in this oasis
Yet we are not one, you and I
More we are formed river stones cut by centuries of fresh water
Rushing to the sea
We lay, oddly shaped and perfectly suited to our purposes
I hold you in my hand, smooth and cool
I rest, too, fully within your palm, unhurried by time or place
A thousand days could pass here
And I would think not more than a moment
Truly but the beat of dragonfly wings

Rooster Crows

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Rooster crowing: Image from Canadianlstan.blogspot.com

Today, I send into your meditation the Rooster Crows. Sitting quietly before the sun, breathing in the fresh morning air I hear a rooster crow. I am surprised by the sound, having not heard it before in my urban neighborhood.

He crows again.

The earthiness of it moves something in me. Each time he crows my mind wanders off toward him, pondering what the neighbor’s think of this early morning riser. Catching myself, I return to the breath, but each call pulls me back to him. After a time, I give up the battle choosing to skip the mantra and see how far my hearing can go.

The rooster is a couple of blocks away. I focus all my hearing on the birds that sing between myself and the rooster. Each time he crows I return to the room, then travel the bird calls back to him again. Each circuit in sound calls more to me.

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Rare Black and White Rooster: Image from Pinterest

A cricket chirping outside my window. The sound of the distant highway and a dog barking, briefly. The rooster crows. The sound of someone’s garage door clicking on its rail. The morning breeze gently rocking the screen in the window ever so slightly. The tingling of the cat water bowl and the soft fur of one sitting meditating with me.

The rooster crows. I hear the hydraulics of an eighteen wheeler on a road maybe a block from my home. The high pitched whistle of a man calling his dog in, followed by an inpatient clap. Birds arriving and then squabbling at the bird feeder. The warbling calls of my other cat watching and hoping with great desire just one bird will falter and come closer. The rooster crows. A flock of Canadian geese heading toward the lake from a field close by. A dove cooing on the roof. The scrape of my neighbor’s front bumper on her driveway as she pulls out too fast. Even the sudden silence of the cricket seems pregnant, poignant and full in its sudden absence.

The rooster crows. My own breathing comes loud to my ears. I can hear my heart beat after a time. The cat turns its head and the tip of a single whisker brushes my leg. It feels as if the nerve endings under my skin are reaching for the sensation. The rooster crows. I smell spring lilacs that also carry the subtler undercurrent of musty swamp grass.

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Black and white with red rooster: Image from animalphotos.info

Everything feels bigger under this intense focus on sound and sensation. My thoughts are increasingly forced out under the enormity of sensation coming in. The rooster crows and the circuit begins again. I forget myself.

The bell rings on the timer and I am startled by the unexpected end to my sit. Time got lost, too, it would seem in the cacophony of sound. One reverberation after another leading away from me to the rooster and then back again. The simple sounds of a morning neighborhood. The rooster crows as if he is the final bell to my sit.

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Sweater Kelso Rooster: Image from Richardhughes.ca

Listening… Really listening has been a subject for me of late. Mainly, that I don’t listen nearly as well as I think. I’ve been wrestling with a strange sort of embarrassment about it. My pride has been nipped at the humble awareness of the reasons that I don’t pay closer attention in the first place. I feel the slightest sting in writing that, alerting me there are bits of work still to be done.

The cricket starts up again and I am reminded that a mindfulness practice is predicated first and foremost on truly listening. Listening intently to all that might be available in a single moment, which is far more than you realize until you stop your inner chatter. I feel a commitment growing as pre-dawn light on a distant horizon.

Not all meditations are silent. Some are so noisy, it’s a delight to realize you can’t squeeze a thought in edgewise.

The rooster crows.

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Noctiluca

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Hong Kong: image from inyminy.com


Today, I send into your meditation Noctiluca.

For a moment I want you to consider a dark sea under a midnight sky. Nothing beneath the surface can be seen as you sit upon the beach immersed in the silence. As your eyes adjust to the night you begin to see light as the waves crash upon the shore. Noctiluca, small minute plankton, are glowing in the water as the energy of the waves crashes upon the shore activating the bioluminescence. They are a vibrant, electric blue and do not glow without significant energy expended. They need a good crash to light up.

The entire earth may be engulfed in darkness, but to the human eye, the light of such a treasure would be unmistakeable. The beauty cannot be understood without the surrounding darkness or the crashing waves. It all goes hand in hand.

If we will allow ourselves to step into what feels dark to us, whether within or without (and, of course, in the end it is all within), we are taking ourselves to a shoreline. We are stepping into a journey. Taking ourselves into waters that we often do not know what lies beneath the surface, yet we instinctively know there is energy here. There is power in the waves that rise out of that darkness and then crash upon us.

Awakening has the silence of meditation, but like the noctiluca, it also has an element of dynamic movement that illuminates, too. Taking a look at aspects of ourselves that feel wounded or downright stunted feels dark and scary on the front end. We don’t know what is beneath that sea. If we can trust in the process, even a little, we will see that the crashing of our focus on who we are in this moment, with a sense of our deepest nature has the ability to bring forth a lightness of being.

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Jelly Fish: image from extrememarine.org.uk

Our wounds do not hold us back from the good roads in life, but rather are the path themselves. Our higher selves are not separate from the journey into darkness, but deeply imbedded in this very same path.

This comes from Perspectives on Seth, episode 16 with Story Waters regarding our wounds: “This kind of process exists. If you wish to go and bring light to somewhere you have buried inside of yourself, you must go on a journey. And that journey can look like going into a depression, an anxiety, can feel like becoming unstable – losing your bearings. The power in recognizing this kind of process is you can better allow its unfolding. For so often, you go off on one of these journeys and then you start worrying about the scenery. You don’t understand where you are going. So you put on the brakes, not trusting the unfolding of your own life. This is what I spoke of in the “Human Dilemma”. Not to be afraid of your own path, your own script. To not be afraid to discover what you have lined up for yourself. So, if after pausing, debating, if somewhere feels like its pulling you, let yourself go. You simply cannot go through life avoiding the dark places. That is because you have things in those places. You put treasures there for yourselves.”

We set ourselves bits of light along the way to awaken, illuminate and direct us. It is not a path intended to be endless pain and suffering, all set in some terminal darkness. As we work to let go of old patterns and the pain of deeper wounds, the energy produced shows us our true brilliance. How luminescent we are.

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Maldives: image from feel-planet.com

Do not be frightened by present feelings of being stuck, or circumstances that feel less than desirable about your practice. Don’t let fear of your deeper wounds concern you. Look within yourself and don’t flinch. You have a vision within you that can penetrate the darkest places on this Earth. Trust in the most sacred intention any of us have, no matter how sunken it may seem within us to awaken. It was there before the first breath and will illuminate our way long after this life slips back out to sea.

If you like this piece, I would be honored if you’d check out my book at the link above or the one below on Amazon:

Lion Heart

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Image from wallpaperput.com

Today, I send into your meditation a Lion Heart.

“My dear,
Is it true that your mind is sometimes like a battering Ram
Running all through the city,
Shouting so madly inside and out
About the ten thousand things
That do not matter?”

Hafez, The Subject Tonight Is Love

I am imperfect.

The pursuit of perfection is possibly the greatest waste of the greatest gift given — a human life.

I am…

Mad…
Mad as the Mad Hatter himself
Full of discord, at times, and delusions at others
Blissful and brimming with laughter, certainly
Annoyingly irritated by small things in the next breath
Boastful and in dark moments jealous and envious
Tender, gentle, full with never sated curiosity
All of it passing veils I draw across my eyes, moment to moment
I do not see
I do not see me
I do not see me clearly a good deal of the time.

I lie feverishly to myself about all of my flaws. My mind is a dance to escape itself. Inwardly, I speak gibberish with a silver tongue.

Enough!

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Image from hdqwalls.com

The fastest path out is to embrace the imperfection. To accept every last note of my tainted heart, as pitch perfect. A song so sweet, in its off notes, as to draw birds from aloft to sit beside me. I must internalize the asymmetry and in so doing find balance. The grand paradox.

Acceptance stops resistance, which quiets the madness of speaking endlessly to myself about what does not matter. I am good, I am bad, I have value, I have no value, I am a gift, I am a lump of coal in someone’s Christmas stocking. Gobbledygook.

I want to speak more deeply about what matters
Speak of things that hold meaning for me, even if they hold no meaning for others
Get out of my own way, that what divinely flows through – manifests
To touch that divinity that is me, I am it, in my own way
To trust my journey, even if it defies a thousand master’s paths
To part my lips and speak, even as the words get jumbled, the imagery fails, my darker parts slip in anyway, no matter my effort
To open myself, knowing full well, the shadow that lingers within me, will come forth and be seen, too
To know, most profoundly, she is but a paper tiger, and thus…
I step with courage into my Lion Heart

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Image from finartamerica.com

“Yes, Hafez, that was me running madly in the streets speaking so much of what does not matter. Teach me, great poet. Teach me to see into the imperfection and know it’s perfection. Teach me to accept I am this — a whole, perfect as it is in this eternal now. Teach me to roar as if the Great Pride of All That Is roared forth across my tongue without assail.”

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