Gnarled

Photo by Noëlle — At Garden of the Gods

I stare at its gnarled and boney presence. Ripped up by its roots, bent away from it’s natural form and twisted into something barely recognizable as tree in the psyche.

Many still have leaves green and thriving at their tips. Life tenaciously holding on whilst facing winds so brutal nothing holds shape against them. It takes years of wind and water and baking sun to create such beauty. I look at the image closely, pondering the story that lies in every turned branch. Graceful, elegant are words that arise, even as the limbs seem tortured in their present form.

Photo by Noëlle— At Garden of the Gods

I look upon the hands that hold the image between them. I feel a shift of feeling here. Root-like veins cross the knuckles, age spots and deep creases over crepe like skin cover the bone structure. My fingers rise to touch the wrinkles at my eyes and mouth. Many years of wind, water and sun, metaphorically and literally, have weathered this form, too. Why do I, and so many others, not see the same beauty here. I see my reflection in the smart tablet screen. Do I see and experience the same grace and elegance as that moment on the trail?

Photo by Noëlle— Hand[/caption]

Photos by Noëlle— Hand

I look back at the images. Remember the feeling of magic and delight as I stepped into their presence along the red stone path. Felt the good fortune to see them with my eyes first, and then now, enjoying them again in a photograph. No wondering, just instantaneous recognition of something beautiful before me.

Photo by Noëlle— Garden of the Gods

Can I translate that to my own body now? Can I step into the presence of my aging process that looks back at me in the mirror and see how gnarled, bent, stretched, twisted life has made me and delight in the sudden discovery. Know it is beauty, not decay. See it as persistent life, thriving against all odds, rather than life slowly destroyed by time? Feel the grace of me, as instantaneously, as upon the trail?

The tree spoke of no sorrow or loss, as I stood before it. I know this. My other senses, those beyond my five standard issue senses — tell me I’d feel their suffering if they felt pain in their change and loss. Something in me knows this to be a deep truth. They live in the world, as it is and become what each moment brings to them. Bending to what is, rather than fighting against it. In this way, I see now that the grace and elegance I experience looking upon them in their gnarled form, is as much from their bending with the present moment, than just mere form.

Phot by Noëlle— Garden of the Gods

I can feel the world. I can feel it’s pulse and it’s movements. I can sense it’s shifts and it’s tides. I am more kin to the natural world, than I realize. Like so many, I am often lulled into a detached sleep from the natural evolution of all things by canned air, computer screens, shoe soles and walls.

Photo by Noëlle— Garden of the. Gods

I wish to return to this level of awareness. To be present to the weathering my path offers me. And in that presence, experience the beauty of my own changes — bent, twisted, bleached of all that was me — and know this as grace. I want to remember the wisdom that is inside of me, that is like the trees. Knows there is only what is here now and to bend to it. Allow it to shape me and alter my structure. Allow time and space to bring me into a new form that may have no appearance of it’s former self, yet is something that has become fresh and beautiful. Something so alive and tenacious that even faced with the elements of my own time on this Earth, I grow leaves of love, light and hope at the edges of all that I am.

If you enjoyed this piece, I’d be honored if you checked out my larger body of writing in my book “Into Your Meditation” at the link below or on the upper right hand corner of this blog site.

Welcome Ravished Guests

State Beach, Block Island

Low Tide, Block Island, photo by Noelle

The surf comes slow and steady, lapping quietly only a few feet away, and never desists. She seems a persistent child, playfully pulling me ever further away from my thoughts. I match my breathe to her comings and goings, at first a difficult task. I am full of the busyness of life at work and the chaos of travel. Yet, after a time, she in her great depths and I in my shallowness upon the beach become one. My muscles sink deeply into the sand, as I rest motionless upon the towel.

Tide's Arrival

State Beach, Block Island photo by Noelle

At mid-morning, the beach is not yet busy, and the gull’s calls are distinct from the din that comes with afternoon beach goers. I open one eye and see a large gray-breasted gull inching toward me. He is surveying for any booty to steal, pirate thief that he is. His beak nods dismissively, as he finds nothing and walks on down the beach. I find a sudden longing that he stay awhile longer. He speaks to me of sea and sky, salt and sand.

The ocean laps, my eye closes and the meditation drops deeper still.

Private

Beach Access, photo by Noelle

There is no effort in this sort of meditation.

The Earth and sea work on me, as they have on the driftwood that litters the beach around me. Softening my edges, tempering my life force, wearing away abrasiveness, leaching from me all that is no longer essential to my purpose and form. Clues are there – tasty salt upon my lips, a breeze lifting my hair – that unseen forces work steadily at this disassembly. An effortless altering of my biochemistry. We think it’s back to some baseline peaceful state, but I think it’s to a new version of me at peace that is forming. I am not the same, as I was before. The same as other peaceful times. The quality I know as peace, changes as I change. Each return to me, from a wound up person in the throes of life, shows me a me I have yet to meet.

Driftwood

State Beach, Block Island photo by Noelle

Thoughts barely rise, before the sun evaporates them off my mind blurring my sense of where I end and the sand begins. This feels essential. A kind of reset where I am wiped totally clean before rebooting to my new form. It is hard to remember when I used to lie here and pull my other life with me onto the beach towel. Endless, frenzied thoughts about life elsewhere, hardly noticing the call of the sea and the gulls. Somewhere inside of me, I think I have always known my troubles only existed if I kept thinking about them. That they would evaporate if I wasn’t there tending to them and where would that leave me? If I gave up thinking about them, then I might not exist anymore either, for who was I without them?

What a tragedy, not being me, once seemed.

Malingering at the Lagoon

Block Island, photo by Noelle

Now I call the wind and the sea to me, ravish guests to an abundant feast. There is nothing I won’t give them. There is nothing they can’t have. This ship has beached here and has lost all defenses. Pirate gulls and marauding wind, my treasures, such as they are, are yours for the taking.

If you enjoyed this piece, you can find more in my book of meditations called “Into Your Meditation” available on Lulu.com, Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

Healing Comes with Awareness

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Ohsu.com


First, this from the Enneagram Institute’s daily quotes:

Wisdom teaching about waking up: “Awareness is vitally important in the work of transformation because the habits of our personality let go most completely when we see them as they are occurring.”

I’m sitting in a meeting and someone I don’t care for much, speaks up. No surprise, I don’t like their idea. A very non-spiritual, unenlightened or even kind thought crosses my mind. I catch it almost as quickly. I’m immediately disappointed in myself. I note that the thought comes with a feeling of tension in my belly and irritation. I breath to relax and notice my left toes are curled up in my shoe. I release them. Another breath, but my chest is tight. My brain is wanting to give a rebuttal to my colleague. History has taught me the rebuttal will fuel more than I care for. I hold my tongue, but feel the effort causes my jaw to tighten. I breathe again, and relax my face and shoulders.

I now notice my thoughts are quickly winding into a story. I ask myself, “Why are you telling yourself this story now?” The answer back is “I’m still irritated and I’m right.” Since I’m not giving that impulse to rebut my colleague’s statements sway, my brain is unleashing the tension in some sordid tale where I, of course, am more brilliant, kinder, innovative than my counterpart in the meeting. I breathe again. I feel the boat that sails on the sea of peace within me listing a good bit. I feel my deep desire to be right, to have greater influence over the meeting battling inwardly with the part of me deeply rooted in peace, that wants to let go of this whole mental and emotional affair I’ve got going.

My mind suddenly throws up a picture of an old circus ride from my youth. The Gravitron which spun you round and round with centrifugal force. I feel like I’m watching myself on one side of the ride and feeling myself on the opposing side, simultaneously.

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Soft.net

I check in, my toes are curled up again. I unravel them, take another breath, and loosen my tongue that I’ve cemented to the roof of my mouth, apparently, to not speak up. I’m still irritated, but the self-inquiry has infused curiosity in there, too. I feel a sense of command over my reactiveness arriving, that’s comforting somehow.

I breathe again and relax my butt cheeks, loosen my hands in my lap, undo the tension that’s grown behind my eyes. The activity has taken me off my colleague. The meeting has moved on. No decisions were made. I feel relief. I relax. I note the pettiness of my thoughts, the need to grab control over an outcome I desire, the tension that built, the emotional ride I took myself on all aloft inside of me. I breathe again, letting it all go with a growing commitment.

I query myself on what is at the heart of this? Why does this person’s character disturb me so or their ideas?

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Espritsciencemetaphysiques.com


The answers arrive like parade floats passing across my mind. I’m competitive: a familiar idea and I feel the yucky feeling of catching that in me, yet again. They have a condescending tone when they speak to me. I feel that even yuckier twinge of unworthiness or ‘less than’ vibe roll through. If I’m wholly honest, I might have to admit they are smarter than me. Again, competitive, and an idea I’m not willing to concede quite yet. An amused smile crosses my lips as I catch my own arrogance. I feel the outcome on the issue is outside my control, and feel a helplessness there. I dig down deeper and sense a boredom in the meeting and have the very unpleasant realization, that some of this internal drama was simply to give my mind something to engage. That might be the most unflattering notion to me of all of them. Drama as a kind of mental amusement. My desire to rebut likely had a need for attention, too. Huh… some self-esteem issues there and I’m finding the ‘drama as antidote for boredom’ returning to my mind, as if it has bells on its feet.

I move from looking inward to looking outward. I see the politics of the issue that are affecting my colleague and me. I sense the uncomfortable temperature of the room and the length of time I’ve been in the meeting and how all of those, too, are affecting what is happening to me here.

I check in. My toes are curled up in both shoes now, my shoulders have risen up, my breathing is shallower, stomach tight, the irritation – now focused on myself – has grown. I don’t care for much of this, but also see the value in witnessing these things in myself. I don’t try to change what I’m seeing. I breathe and let myself see them as I detach from them. I feel my meditation practice in full swing. I am a witness to my personality’s various machinations. They are there, noted honestly, but I focus on offering myself compassion. I breathe into it. Unravel everything one more time, only this time, I keep going for several minutes. I focus on a point just outside the window. I let the noise of the meeting pass over me, as clouds traveling the breadth of the sky. I stay this way until I feel myself return to a monk sitting quietly in the conference room chair.

image

In5d.com


Now, I am ready to practice some ho’oponopono with my colleague. The Hawaiian prayer of forgiveness, “I love you, please forgive me, I’m sorry, thank you”. By the time I begin, I see the gifts I’ve been given of insight into my personality’s weird little dynamics. I’ve had the chance to disengage the machine and return myself to center. The boat floating inwardly on my sea of peace is no longer listing.

When I begin the Hawaiian prayer I mean every word. My colleague has not changed at all, and I may never be close friends with them, but the part of me that was attaching who I am, to who they are, has been unhooked. As such, I can see them more clearly. They, like me, have the same little shit show going on inside their personality. That single insight softens my heart tremendously. A gift to me of awareness. I’ve been shown something and given the chance to practice a new pathway, charter a new course. I don’t ask myself for perfection. I might have to repeat this little scene at some other point today, tomorrow or next week. This is the path. I am not the same at the end of the meeting, as I was at the beginning. As the quote indicates I am, by means of my awareness, transformed.

Day in, day out, this is the road we travel. Thousands of years meditators have been walking this path. I am comforted to know I am in good company.

If you liked this piece, consider checking out my book either at the link below to Amazong or the link above to Lulu.com publishing. Thank you

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

Double-U Trifecta

Photo by Noelle

Photo by Noelle


I stand in the parking lot and let the wind and snow penetrate my clothes. I think of standing at bus stops as a kid waiting on the bus for school or trudging home from after-school jobs because my mother forgot to pick me up. She wasn’t mean, just a little ADD and most certainly not on time for a single event in her life. She’d always say, “There you are!” as if she’d been looking for me a good while or naturally expected me to arrive out of thin air.
Photo by Noelle

Photo by Noelle


It’s occurred to me, of late, that my problems as they relate to the notion of waiting really do stem from this. Years of waiting for my mother to be ready to leave or to show up. I’m not blaming her now. Just aware where this whole crazy waiting bus got started.
Photo by Noelle

Photo by Noelle


Christianity, as a rule, teaches a lot of waiting, too. Waiting to be worthy for things, waiting on God’s good graces to slide your way. Not knocking the Christians either. Like my mother who got her “waiting” from somewhere else, then passed it on to me, the Christians have been passing it along, too. The rolling wave of work hard, worthiness and waiting. A ‘Double-U” trifecta that forms the worst sort of box. Always feeling like you have to prove yourself somehow. Push more, demonstrate more, work harder, than wait for that tipping scale when your worthiness reaches some magical goodness quotient and all that you strive for will arrive.
Photo by Noelle

Photo by Noelle


As I stand and feel the snow beginning to cover my lashes it occurs to me I shall let this wind take these old notions out to sea. They no longer serve me. The whip has cracked long enough at my back. The old beggar woman inside of me is finally turning to dust on this gale. How absolutely lovely to know that. Really know it down deep somewhere near my solar plexus. Like a winter sun suddenly pulsating into a white wind.

Now… ah, now, to live it.

Photo by Noelle

Photo by Noelle

Hungry to be Ptolemy

Copyright: Tartu Observatory Virtual Museum

Copyright: Tartu Observatory Virtual Museum

I stand in my driveway for a few minutes each morning looking out at the night sky. On my iPad is an app, Star Walk that I can put up to the sky and it will identify each constellation. I have loved staring at the stars but have never really known what the various night forms are, and so have taken to trying to find them. I marvel at their names, Ophiuchus, Serpens Caput, Centaurus, Bootes, Corona Borealis, and Hercules. So much magic and myth in each name. The map above is of the sky as I saw it this morning: Scorpius, Lupus, Sagittarius, and Corona Australis. “Look who watched over my home this night”, I think to myself.

zenandpi.com

zenandpi.com

This is how our ancestors saw the night sky. A cast of characters galloping across the firmament each night. Each one part of a larger story, part of a mystical journey each of us could partake, if we chose. Or we could look upon the third brightest star in the Northern hemisphere, Arcturus glimmering in the night sky and know from that brilliant light erupts Bootes, the Plowman, first cataloged by Ptolemy in the 2nd Century. There isn’t just stars floating up there, but histories and stories and ancient mariners or philosophers charting unknown lands.

Richard D. Serros: www.serrosstudios.com

Richard D. Serros: http://www.serrosstudios.com

With all our technological advances and our hunger to know as much as we can, I often think we’ve lost a little of the mystery and wonder at the world and skies around us. We’ve forgotten to tell stories about the curious things we find in plain sight. We’ve lost touch a bit with the magic that looking upon a night sky to see peacocks and lovely, floating maidens can elicit.
corona-australis_overview_edited

We focus so keenly on the day ahead, we forget all around us is beauty and mystery that could alter our entire day if we would pause only briefly to look up and know a king’s crown or a great hero of old hangs gracefully there.
corona_(crown)_overview_edited

sagittarius-constellation

Our lives are not ground to salt by our labors. We lose the luster and vibrancy in living when we won’t take our eyes off our labors to see the marvels that exist effortlessly around us. Life dulls under the weight of brooding instead of delight in something extraordinary as a single crocus pushing up through snow or the wonder that comes from gazing upon Betelgeuse in Orion’s belt. When we release the need to stare at our troubles and turn our gaze upon the beauty that simply awaits our notice life becomes so much easier to bear, so much easier to awaken to each day, so much more fun to really live.
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