Thursday, March 31, 2011

emails and spiritual practice

hwubby and i discuss a situation for more than fifteen minutes. he's supposed to be invited to an event. it's the day before the event and he's heard nothing. blah blah blah. finally i say, if this event is that important to you, you need to find out. all i base on is something my says, to the effect, if something comes to your attention and lingers you need to attend to it. what happens is, in my learning experience, if you don't it stirs the mind. like throwing one stone after another into a placid lake, there will be so many ripples that you can't see any reflections clearly. hwubby agrees. after a little while, he says, now there's a problem. i say, what now? he says, it turns out that this person emailed me a while ago for my feedback regarding this event. i thought i sent out a response. i just dug around. that email is in the draft folder.

oy. right away i recall something else my guru say, a yogi can turn anything to his/her advantage. i say, you write an apology email right away, send flowers to her tomorrow, i'm sure this is not the first time something like this happen to anyone in the history of email. anyway it is precisely concerning something like this that i have a practice of going into the sent box after i send out any email. i thought it is a sensible business practice. now i realize it is a spiritual practice as well. it diminishes the possibility for unnecessary mental activity.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

sit. walk into the heart. clean mirror

here's how i would describe the way i look at my meditation practice right now. every day i sit down on my meditation mat. by the way this one has been such a loyal companion for eighteen years. anyhow, anyhoo, i sit, jump into the river of the breath and glide into the subtle heart, my innermost self. everyday is an adventure, a travel into the inner space. these days as i follow the path of the inhalation and exhalation i see that the space where the inhalation emerges is no different from that into where the exhalation disappears. little by little, day by day, this space shows me how vast it is. the mind can't reach its limits.

the metaphor that sort of approximates what happens in meditation is this. it is spiritual mirror cleaning. all that dust and dirt over the mirror get wiped out. i get mental clarity. for instance, today i see a road map regarding a knotty situation that hwubby and i have been working on. not that it is all resolved in one neat move. rather it illumines the next move. aaah. to stay in the present. now, even that is not my purpose to meditate. so i scribble it down, let it go and move on, deeper and higher into my own true nature.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

relaxed alertness. even-keeled joy.

as i marvel more and more the crystalline clarity and purity of the visuals in the dream, how refined and luscious those figures of smoke are i realize why the scriptures call this physical body gross. that doesn't take away the holiness of this body, the temple in which we know our own true nature. it's just that i have the experience of what is real. in this morning's meditation it is so clear that the space into where the exhalations dissolve is both within me and holding me. i no longer get frustrated because the mind can't wrap around it. i gently place attention in the movement of the incoming and outgoing breaths, don't try to force anything or judge anything, like, am i doing the right thing, should the inhalations be longer, shouldn't i equalize the inbreaths and outbreaths. blah blah blah.

the other thing i realize recently is i have not been taking enough time and care to come of meditation. because the mind kind of has this habitual way of judging my meditations. o, it's not deep, you are aware of your body, you don't see thunder and lightnings and angels. so usually when i hear the timer i take a few rounds of deep breaths and get up from the asana. what happens is i would get drowsy and even dizzy during the day. but since i have been giving time and attention to bring myself out of meditation my energy during the day is steadier. there is a heightened sense of alertness in a relaxed manner. i am tied tighter and tighter into this state of even-keeled joy. it's so easy now to enjoy things and people and not get attached or bothered.

Monday, March 28, 2011

dream in me? me in dream?

the visuals in this dream has been so very much in my consciousness that, to me, it's as real as, if not more than, all that in the physical world. here's that particular fragment that is absolutely my top fave. i'm ready to go to work, on my way and look to my left down a street. all that i see is figures and an old tree. they are made of black smoke. through them and against them, as the backdrop to this dream canvas i can see gentle, tender fish-belly-grey pre-dawn lights. the vista is exquisite and lovely beyond anything i have seen or imagined. i move in closer. one of the figures turns in my direction, gives me this look that startles me and stops me in my track for a fraction of an instant before i realize i am moving backwards at the speed of...a canon ball. i find myself moving at an ever accelerating speed, so fast that i cannot see anything around me but blurs. the sense of speed is so real that it carries over into the waking state for quite a while. i see anxious feeling appear, and a thought. where's hwubby? as i look at this and i can't help it because the beautiful composition of the scene and the look from that ethereal, smoky figure are, as i type this, vivid as ever. their brightness don't dim a bit. so as i reflect on this i realize the mind cannot wrap around the paradox that this vast dream space is holding my awareness while the dream happens all within me. the other thrilling insight is this. it is the benchmark of progress when dreams are bright and vivid. and by the way, here's a huge mystery. i go to sleep in the dark. i awake in dark. so by what light is dream illumined? where is the light source? there has to be a powerful source because the colors in the rest of the dream are just vibrant and strong. really. at one point i gaze into this sparkling white top that i am wearing and marvel at the marigold yellow of the poop in the toilet. aaah. what else but the light of my own sublime self.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

body is in space and space is in body.

who knew?! yogic realization while doing finances. of course. why not. here's how it goes down. there i am working on the p and l and, in a quiet manner, i notice a deepening in my outbreaths. my awareness is in this huge subtle space while i am aware of the contours of the body. a question arises. is this subtle space in my body? or the body inside the space? in a mystical way this question illuminates something that has been sort of frustrating me for a long while, like, years. i have been attempting over and over to meditate on the space between breaths. breathe in. notice where breath arises. breathe out. notice where the breath dissolves into. after a little while i always gets confused. am i doing the right thing? i seem to have lost track of where the breath arises and where it dissolves into. is the former outside of me? is the latter inside me? and so it all makes me feel i am sort of not getting anywhere, not 'getting it.' back to where i am, preparing a spreadsheet of financial data, and i clearly see that there is only one space. the body as a barrier is just a limiting thought. turning away from that thought, what am i left with? the understanding that this subtle space is within the body and the body is within the subtle space. this is such a paradox that no wonder the mind has trouble wrapping it around.

now i can return to the spreadsheet. thank you, my own innermost self, for the illumination.

Friday, March 25, 2011

eat same thing everyday and a special shout out

inspired by vito and four bags of bargain mushrooms. really. loads of portobello, oyster, crimini, huge buttons. all for three sixty. i basically followed mastianich's recipe. garlic. parsley. by the way, a friend gave me bags of organic parsley freshly picked. lucky me. so i throw in a chinese touch. ginger. and my top fave aroma enhancer. onion. at the end, turn off the flame, sprinkle generously garam masala and a herb mix of thyme, oregano, fennel. and yes, it's a gift from another friend. i have forgotten to mention i pour in chicken stock at the recommendation of rebecca. indeed, a special shout out to rebecca. she took me and hwubby to the grocery store. we haven't been there for several weeks already. and she's tons of fun to be with. getting back to the mushroom concoction. i use it in my chuk, rice porridge chinese style. hwubby uses it as spaghetti sauce. all great. it would be a fantastic soup too. now a full tub sits in the freezer. another tub in the fridge. enough for a week. did i mention i can just about eat one thing everyday if i love it that much. hwubby says, how can you do that? i say, why not, i love you, i don't say i want to have a different hwubby every day:)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

from papaya to litigation

i am so happy with what i got. bags of bargain produce. check this out. three hawaiian papaya for eighty nine cents. now, they do look very...ugly. one of them actually is caving in. but guess what, that's sweet sunshine in disguise. a spoonful of its saffron juicy flesh, the aroma and flavor send me straight to the beach where the president of united states hung out as a boy. another couple of mouthfuls later i realize something. i see that hwubby and i are presented with a fantastic opportunity to really deepen our connection to our innermost, highest self. we are going through litigation and yesterday our lawyer presented us a situation where we have to make a choice. a tough choice. how to go about choosing which way to go? what is the right thing to do? food for contemplation. i scoop out another mound of heavenly papaya and i go deeper and higher into my own true nature. there i will receive the guidance i need. it may not come while i am eating up the papaya. so i have to stay vigilant, be aware. messages may come in any direction, any manner, any shape or size.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

pure pasta. pure practices.

these days the only pasta i eat is uncle vito's. let me explain why. first of all it's after doing spiritual practices together. we sing vedic hymns and om and meditate. by the way we are now singing om on a deeper level. we focus on the nasal resonance. the result speaks for itself. we glide into this meditation that, in shivaa's words, quick and still. half an hour go by in no time. i am deeply absorbed in the subtle throb. i am all full in this gentle and rich pulsation.

then, pasta. the pasta sauce is a recipe from vito's fellow italian, lydia mastianich. mushroom, garlic, parsley. how can it be not terrific, right? and then vito throws in his own touches. sage. a cheese that is not reggiano. i can't remember the name. but what it does is not drowning out the delicate mushroom flavor but enhancing it. you can't taste the sage but the whole thing is that much more interesting and richer. i scrape off every drop of it.

this is pure pasta. perfect complement to the pure practices.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

here's to that magic frank.

i look into this mound of golden sunshine, and say, is this a deconstructed, modernist version of butternut squash soup? my super-uber cool friend, frank, sends out another one of his ringing, joyous laughter cascades and say, post-modernist. he roasted butternut squash with, in his words, slabs of butter, then purees it with yet more butter. eating frank's food means leaving calorie-count at his door. but then, he lives in seattle. how often do i get to eat his fabulous food? as my beloved aunt julia, as in julia child, says about crepe suzette, eat it once in a while. besides with food prepared with such thoughtfulness and delight as frank's it's pure. did i mention top-notch ingredients? for instance, he dollops raspberry yoghurt over butternut squash. this is organic greek yoghurt with quality raspberry. topping this post-modernist babe off is a whip of creme fraiche. every spoonful is fresh sunshine in the mouth.

frank begins the meal with 'laughter in the mouth.' bits of browned duck and roasted walnuts sit in a boat of endive. a little drip of maple syrup and dots of dill transform this creation into, i would say, a savory reinvention of banana split.

now, there is wild caught copper river king salmon, and there is trol-caught salmon. the latter costs three times as much. before i actually taste it frank says, once you have it you can never go back. i am kind of skeptical until i eat it. o me o my, it's juicy, buttery. the texture is tender and bouncy. flavor profile is complex and wonderful. simply irresistible. it's one of those 'mango' experience. you can describe it all you can but you have to eat the mango to know that ethereal feeling. the best i can say is this is a relaxed, contented salmon. to bring out and enhance this beauty frank slow braises celery root with cream and purees it. the salmon lies on top of this white comforter, next to a stream of blueberry sauce. the sweet and mellow blueberry is kicked up several notches by spicy red bell pepper. a raft of baby carrots of a variety of colors complete the dish. dots of dill continue their recurring appearances. i have two plates. that's how good it is.

dessert is o so simple. lemon sorbet. before i can start to tease frank about awol-ing on dessert i sniff something something and i notice something something sprinkled over the sorbet. it smells like fennel and it's deeper and richer. frank says, fennel pollen, a mario batali trick, put it over anything, it's magic.

frank, i say, you are magic.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

here's to dream being real.

leaving for seattle in a little bit. hwubby's one act opera is in production there. he has worked so hard for such a long time to make it happen. and it is happening. he didn't give up even when it seemed utterly impossible to pull it off. here's to dream being real. bravo, hwubby.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

ear of my heart

meditation is such a mystical process. how do i explain on the days when nothing much happens if i do not embrace this enveloping stillness that throb soundlessly. it is not a dead quiet. it is so alive. indeed it is this that i am irresistibly drawn to meditating day after day. it is this state that i strive to return to as i go about the worldly activity. and this is on days when nothing happens. what about today? wow. soon after i find myself immersed in the rich and full pulsation that ripple through my entire awareness i see these dancing lights. right away i relate to them. they remind me of the northern lights going wild over the pitch black sky above the swathe of penguins which are huddling together tightly. i watch molten streams of emeralds and jades shifting through patterns and formations in my own inner sky. after a while i hear this from the ear of my heart. take your time to come out. with that i embark on the journey of emerging from the depths of the field of my own true nature. it is kind of like coming up from the ocean deep. all in all i meditate one and a half hour today according to the clock and it doesn't feel long at all. i could have easily roamed some more in the pulsation of the moving breath if i were not also aware of the tasks ahead.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

friend on the path. two rabbis.

a friend and i are walking to her car after an event. almost eleven at night. i kind of see a figure approach us and say, you have any change. both of us don't have a dime with us. she says, no, we don't have any money. a little while later, my friend says, can i ask you a question? i say, yeah. she says, were you ignoring that guy or am i wrong? my mind goes blank for a brief moment. then i watch some resistance appear. weak. not strong. i take a look at it and say to my friend, yes, you are correct. we go on to discuss it a little bit. my friend is nonjudgmental. she is as kind and funny and alive as she always is. in such presence all that tendency to defend myself dissipate into the cool night air. i can see how when some one on the street approaches me for money the mind kicks habitually into thoughts like he/she is going to use this for alcohol, cigarettes, whatever and i am not going to be an enabler for that. here i am, the day after, coming out of meditation i see something else. my reaction has to do with poverty consciousness. then i remember something. two days ago i attended a teaching event from a fantastic rabbi. she speaks about the joy of service, serving in joy. among the gems she gave out is this one. in any moment when you can give, choose to give. as i recall these words it dawns on me that i have always had fear and resistance in giving. in all kinds of ways i would hold back while the mind churns up seemingly justifiable excuses.

on the drive home my friend tells me this story. a person stops a rabbi and asks for money. rabbi says, this is shabbos, i don't have any money on me, i'll give you my address, you come after shabbos, i'll give you some money. the person does show up. the rabbi gives him money. the person shows up again. and again. and again. and the rabbi begins teaching him. what do i learn from this story? the first thought i see going through the mind is, o, no, that's dangerous. gee, i can see i have a lot of self-inquiry to do on this one. to be continued. what i do know for sure is this. the rabbi is steeped in a place of fearlessness which is none other than the source of compassion and kindness and generosity. what the rabbi does is right for the rabbi. what i want is not to imitate the action mechanically but to keep anchoring myself in that place within me and from that place i will know what is the right action for me in whatever situation in that moment.

how lucky to have such a friend on the path.

Monday, March 14, 2011

let the fun begin.

here i am making breakfast and my cell rings upstairs. so for the next while i am bilateral tasking. talking with my editor and keeping an eye on my food. by the way i am having a new thing for the morning meal. an egg in a little rice milk lightly sweetened with jaggery. it fills me up the whole morning in a light way. back to my editor. she has these ideas come to her during the night. and, o, yes, we know those are usually the best stuff. the night energy is without the busy-ness of the day. very little mundane static. flashes and sparks from pure consciousness are less likely to be masked over. not that there aren't creative pulses during the day. it's just that our attention tend to be drawn outward in all kinds of ways. anyway by the end of our conversation i am so ecstatic. i feel like i am at the stage of examining the house of the book. the architecture is there. the bones are good. now i can, with my editor's help, plays with the flow of rooms, think of what furniture to put in which room, how to arrange them, what to do to make sure the purpose of the room is shining through beautifully, and so on and so forth. this is great. let the fun begin.

Friday, March 11, 2011

fear, anger, frustration are great stuff.

here's an exciting breakthrough. there i am reading when out of nowhere a surge of intense emotions arise. what are they? in the moment of the tsunami, i can't tell. but as an afterthought, as i look back, it's a probably a bundle of impatience, frustration, anguish, blah blah blah all mushed up. what triggers it? what is it about? this is where the fruit of my spiritual efforts lift me up and beyond. instead of diving headlong into the contents of the emotions a swell of spiritual will pulls my attention into the movement of the breath. breathe in deep. breathe out even longer. after a little while i notice the tightness in the diaphragm area begin to loosen up a little bit. then i discover something familiar. a throbbing sensation. it pervades my whole being but it is evident that the epicenter is in the fingertips and hands. in fact the fingertips feel like warm water balloons and they are gently bouncing in the ocean of awareness. that immediately reminds me of something. a recurring meditation experience. my fingertips and hands pulse, filled with strong energy currents. by now i already lose sight of all that intense emotions that set off this whole episode. i am so thrilled. this is what the scriptures talk about, what my guru talks about, again and again. the essence of everything in the inner world is energy that flows forth from pure consciousness. that's why the teaching says strong emotions such as fear and anger are great opportunities to take us back to my own true nature. when we have the right understanding, of course. kind of like a life. in the surgeon's hands it can save lives. in the hands of a thug, it kills. great stuff, isn't it.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

not yet. i will.

i am a little more baked. why do i say that? how do i know that? i can hear a teaching over and over for a long period of time. every time it's like, yeeeah, yeeeeah, yeeeah, riiiiight. case in point is this one. the yogic scriptures say the individual mind is a contracted manifestation of the supreme consciousness from which the entire physical universe that was, is and ever will be, arise. and therefore the individual mind has that kind of power which is essentially same as that from which stars, planets, galaxies, meteors burst forth. the only difference is scale. at one point, i think it's last year, and also several years prior, i even study this particular sutra. i learn its sound in sanskrit. i pore over the commentary. but meanwhile i am still pervasively affected by this recurring thought. i can't hold the whole book. i'm gonna lose it. i don't know how i am gonna finish it. think about it. imagine supreme consciousness says, hmmm, no, i can't make something one million times the mass of the earth. by the way, that happens to be the sun.

a couple of days ago i come across this teaching from another source. this time something deep within me echoes and moves. i still see the recurring thought. but i also see a steady surge of will and clarity along with this message. i don't have everything figured out. not yet. i will. i feel this refreshed and renewed reverence for the power of my mind. in its universal form it creates flowers, birds, waterfalls, meadows, rainbows, vegetables, fruits, all kinds of wonderful, marvelous and delicious things. of course my mind has the power to produce a wonderful, marvelous and delicious novel. of course. how can it be otherwise.

this all happens very quietly as i sip ginger tea. is this a breakthrough? an a-ha moment? light bulb moment? i suppose i could call it all that. but it is the fruit of years of baking off the mental bondage.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

fortunate to have each other

the wonders and marvels of doing the practices with a group of dedicated, fun yogis are endless and always astonishing. we laugh hard and dive deep. as we pour ourselves into singing om i am immersed in this richly textured symphonic sound that ebb and flow in waves. they wash me over and over. sometimes i can discern a strand of resonance resembling my own voice. mostly it's a giant ball of resonance rocking my whole being. i feel my own vastness. it is enveloped in an ocean. the ocean is within my awareness. my awareness is aloft on the unwavering longing of my fellow yogis. as we enjoy the yummy mung sprout salad and a spread of yummy food that shivaa prepares i chew on the truth that how fortunate we are to have each other.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

let her be and include myself

i've been grappling, well, actually struggling is the more accurate word, with the relationship with a particular person for...suffice to say, all my life. so many times in the past i thought i have already taken care of it only to find myself smashed and mushed and rolled over. something is not resolved. not yet. what is it? i ask earnestly, again and again. i am not seeking approval. i am not asking someone else to tell me what i should do. been there. done that. i know the answer is within. so i turn it, turn it and turn it. this morning, three am, i am wide awake. my awareness is wide open and quiet. i hear three words. let. her. be. it feels right. then i hear a follow up question. what about me? response comes in less than a breath. include yourself in the picture. bingo. nailed it. i can see in a super fast flash that in the past i have never done that. and so, for the lack of a gentler way to put it, i became an enabler, appeaser, door mat with rage and resentment and bitterness simmering barely beneath the surface. let it go. gather all that will that i have cultivated all these years, turn it toward the power within my own self, and all the guidance i need is there. nowhere else.

Monday, March 7, 2011

how's the food in new york?

hwubby and i walk into the oakland chinatown store where we get lottery tickets and restaurant tips. the store owner and his wife work all day and eat out all the time. so they know what's good and what's new. anyway the owner takes one look at hwubby who is on walker and says, what's up, man? hwubby says, i got knocked down by a taxi in new york city. the owner blinks, his facial expression unchanged. his wife looks up from the cash register and says, her facial expression also unchanged, how's the food in new york? now, back to suk wah. what's my reaction? lo and behold, all that goes through my mind is this. o, dear, i don't know, i didn't have anything other than hospital food, gee, i screwed up. a little while later we are no longer in the store. hwubby says, did you hear what she say? i say, yeaaah. hwubby says, chinese really don't want to talk about anything negative, or anything that has to do with emotions. i say, yeaah, we don't really talk about anything, period. meanwhile it dawns on me that i just had a moment where i was chewed up by a residual tendency. okay, time to let it go.

Friday, March 4, 2011

a thousand mirrors. breakthrough.

last year me and my buddy claira memorized a poem of my guru. a thousand mirrors. we love it so much that we want to find something to study and memorize this year. then life takes center stage. i have been criscrossing country in hospitals, rehabs and she having a full plate on her life as well. meanwhile we try this, and try that. nothing sticks. finally, this morning, i realize i've become rusty on the poem 'a thousand mirrors,' so i take out the book. just like that i start to read through the other poems. i cannot believe my guru is articulating all that difficulties and frustrations and anguish that i have been going through. i couldn't have put it clearer myself. so i bring it up in our weekly study session. very quickly we decide that this book, in our eye and mind, is our guru's spiritual autobiography. one poem jumps out at me. the title is 'breakthrough.' hey, what's spirituality if there are not breakthroughs. to me, spiritual endeavors are all about breakthroughs. break away from perceived limitations, bondage, preconceived notions, habitual tendencies and so on and so forth. through with the small self, be the highest self. and so it is that our 2011 study goal is to memorize this poem. breakthrough.

there are seventeen poems in the book. one already down. only sixteen to go. i don't have to worry about what to study in the years ahead. nice.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

dripping and reconciling

this is gross but it is the truth. the credit statement i just reconciled is spotted with drippings from my...nosie. what can i do. one hand holding the clip board, the other is either holding a pencil or typing numbers. those waters of grace are too unpredictable for me to grab a tissue. anyhow, anyhoo, this credit statement took an entire day. i started it, i don't remember the exact date, before hwubby went to new york. it covers the holiday season. it has 145 transactions, most of them without receipts and a bunch of them hwubby have trouble recognizing and remembering them. so we agree on the phone we'll finish it when he returns from new york. and then the ensuing months he has been in hospital, rehab and so on and so forth. so when i pick this baby up it looks like an alien. after going through it line by line three times i'm still two dollars short. i stare at the crosses, marks, folds and tiny numbers. i sigh and start all over again. about ten transactions into it i get it. one of the no-receipt transactions should be eight dollars, not six as i tried hard to read it with a deep, frayed fold running across it. but by then it's too late. i have already erased all the checked marks. so i take a deep breath, remind myself i resolve this year to cultivate patience. what has to be done has to be done. i keep going. and i do it. yay.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

river of grace from the nose

nosie is running like a river. it almost drips into the pot of ginger water. i have not had something like this in a long, long while. on one hand i know everything is just a temporary manifestation of pure consciousness. on another hand it's no fun to have to sleep sitting up and the sinus sore and achy. o dear. now it is almost dripping right over the keyboard. what a river of grace.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

chuk. extra-strength tylenol.

all i have been having in the last few days are ginger water, honey lemon and chuk. what is chuk? one part rice and seven parts water, a little salt. that's according to chinese. you can just use a little rice, lot of water and nothing else. simmer it until the kitchen is infused with a healing and nurturing aroma. on the day when i feel clogged and heavy and achy i down two bowls plain, just like that. the next day i add in some green veg that is already cooked to soft. again, two bowls. when the day comes i want to put an egg in it it's the sure sign i am getting better. right now i feel i am hovering around a trough, not better, not worse either. as we chinese say, in the long run, it's better to let a cold or flu to run its own course and it's not less than seven days. but, of course, these are the days of extra-strength tylenol and antibiotics. who has the patience and tolerance to do that? images of the tasks and deadlines that are piling up fast come through the mind. i can see the time of taking extra-strength tylenol is coming near.