Saturday, April 30, 2011

cold shower and meditation.

make no mistake i am not going so far as to say this dry-scrub-cold-shower thing is pleasurable. i hear somewhere that if you can endure the first minute you'll love it. suffice to say it feels like that first minute has no end to it. but, somehow, there's a steady spring of determination from within pumping me to go ahead with it, stay with it.

this morning's meditation is an effortless deepening of my awareness into the space between breaths. in a clean and quiet way there's a subtle opening between the breaths as i roam in the place where inbreaths emerge and outbreaths disappear. this place holds my body. this place exists within my consciousness. there's a refreshing coolness gently blowing through the body and the inner universe. at the same time my limbs, particularly fingers, palms and arms are full, like warm water balloons bouncing in a steady, comforting rhythm.

i have forgotten to make a note that i notice a difference in tone and texture of skin, head to foot. awesome.

Friday, April 29, 2011

encore cold shower

once the inertia is overcome the mind is more open, the body is more relaxed and i can really see what's possible. for instance. it takes some doing to have the first cold shower. turns out i like it. hey, if it were not for the broken water heater...not that i wish it on anyone. i digress. soon i notice the skin towel that i've been using during shower. hey, i can use it to dry scrub, get circulation going before stepping into the cold. so i do. it's amazing. an explosion of refreshing, invigorating tingles. fireworks in my whole being. as i wrap myself in a towel there is this vibrant warmth spreading from within. it's enlivening. as a matter of fact i meditate that much deeper this morning. i actually have the sense that i am beginning to enter the space between breaths. now i like it so much i'm even kind of thinking, i'm gonna miss this when hot water is back.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

cold shower

never say never, you never know. that's what i heard when i said to myself, there's no way i can take a cold shower. as a matter of fact before the last word in the declaration is over i already regret it. and so i take a deep breath and roll my eyeballs and mumble to myself, all right, we'll see what happens. turns out it's a a sunshiny day. i have to go out, walk around, take care of a few things. after walking around under the warm and blue sky for a while i feel easy and open and happy that i had got everything done. there i am, walking down my street, and i see a very dear neighbor, ms williams's, little red bug. o, she's in the house, i think to myself. hey, why don't i knock on her door and see if i can take a shower in her house. immediately i get a response within. it's warm enough. i do see a little resistance. i watch it. it's like morning mist. damp and cold. but it burns off soon after the sun pops up. when it's my usual shower time i take a look at the late afternoon bright golden shine outside the bathroom window. i am so ready. true i am sort of dashing in and out of the shower but i do it, hairwash and all. as i dry myself i feel an invigorating sensation gently rising from within and covering the skin. just like that i am that much more connected to my own courage and strength. i feel clean on physical as well as subtle level. and that's the thing about following guidance from my inner self. all grounds are covered. it's not there's spiritual life and here's the worldly life. it's just one life.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

scoop golden nectar out of compost bin

i have come to know that i can't control how grace manifests. i just have to keep an open mind and let go of expectation. case in point.  i've bee wondering where am i going to take the next shower since it will be at least another few days before there will be hot water. i know, yogis are supposed to take cold shower but that's another contemplation and whole bunch of spiritual work. suffice to say i'm not there yet. anyway i've even started sponging because hwubby is not too comfortable about me knocking on neighbors' doors and says, knock, knock, can i come take a shower? so i have completely let go of having a shower for a few days and prepared the mind for it. it's not that hard to adjust actually since i was raised where i bathed off a bucket squatting over a rough concrete floor. so there i am, my mind all set for this when hwubby bursts through my room and says, pack up, we are going to take a shower in shambhavi's place. to cut a long story short. shambhavi is this sunshine of yogini. she's a meditating butterfly. she was the stage manager of hwubby's opera production in seattle as well as a major fundraising event in san francisco. she's that kind of dream person that simply steps up to take care of what's necessary with a warm and bright smile. when the going was tough during the fundraiser event she turns to hwubby says cheerfully, i'm just into selfless service. with that the atmosphere transforms. anyway i come out of her shower, feeling clean and bright, and hearing her saying something about throwing away a mango. i say, why do you throw it away? she says, so and so says when the mango has brown spots you should throw it away. i say, where's the mango? she says, in the compost. our eyes turn in the direction of the compost bin. that fearless shambhavi, so very in the present, digs her hand deep into the bin, scoops out the mango, gives it a good rinse under the faucet, and, voila, a golden kidney-shaped nectarean fruit emerges. i begin to salivate. we get so excited. shambhavi rushes upstairs and pulls out another one which is about to go into compost. and i get to take both of them home. they are fragrant, nectarean. true, they might be a teenie bit over ripe but, hey, i am just picking bones from eggs. i have to be honest. they are, without a doubt, the best and greatest mangoes i have had in a long time. sublimely succulent. heavenly. really, i never know how grace manifests where.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

if it's not one thing it's another.

here's the latest. hwubby and i come home after away for a week. and these days travel is...interesting and a lot of fun what with hauling walker and cane and hwubby being wheeled through airports. many tippings involved of course. anyway the moment we walk through the door hwubby says, something's not right. i say, yeah, i'm tired, that's not right. hwubby says, no, something's not right with the house. i say, the house always smells stuffy and musty after shuttered up for days, can we go to sleep now? good for hwubby. he stands up for his inner message. he says, no, the house is damp, very damp. i say, it's raining, the guy at the airport says it has been raining. hwubby doesn't say i am wrong. he just gently and firmly says, the house is very damp.

i try to go to sleep and all i can hear from within is, the house is damp. finally i surrender. i ask my innermost self, okay, what ought i do? a response comes right away. go to the basement. so i do. i go down to the basement. what do i see? a lot of water. to cut a long story short, turns out the hot water tank is broken. steamy water is all over the basement. of course the house is damp with a nonstop supply of hot steam suffusing a shuttered house. salutations to hwubby and his highest and innermost self. as for me, it takes a while for me to hear what i need to hear. as i reflect on it i can see the mind was veiled by resistance. and don't i know that resistance takes me right out of the present? i do. and yet...oy.

meanwhile it takes a couple of days for a plumber to come out even we plead it is emergency. really. wasting water and gas. i feel so bad about it. anyhow, anyhoo. the water and gas supplies to the water heater are off as i type this. that's the good news. bad news is there are no hot water and heat in the house. the earliest the plumber can come is, check this out, in another six days. not to mention all my meditation journals back in the days of writing them in paper and pen are drying out in the sunroom. do i feel we awful about all this? for a few moments, yes, and then it fizzles out like the specks of foam along the limp waves on a beach. hwubby says, it's not the end of the world. ain't it the truth. above and beyond i take it as an opportunity to practice stay in the present. staying in sync with ever evolving situations as they are not as what i would have liked. after all, if it's not one thing it's another. i am reminded, as i sponge myself, that this is the fundamental attribute of life, and the real and true antidote is to stay firmly connected to my own self and see what i need to see with crystal clarity without preconceived notions, opinions and habitual thoughts. and what do i hear from within? we are so fortunate. indeed. indeed. we are so fortunate. we are so fortunate. we are so fortunate.

Monday, April 25, 2011

accounts receivable. food made with love

hwubby says, grace has invited us to her house for dinner. i say, o yeah i remember her coconut rice, so fragrant. hwubby says, yeah, that's all you remember, food. i say, that's not true, i remember grace is a great person, she has a good and kind heart. hwubby says, wait till you know what's her job at the dental school. i say, what does she do? hwubby says, she's in accounts receivable for twenty-five years. now that really grabs my attention. i have experience in customer service in a newspaper agency, meaning i have to deal with, shall i say, difficult, instead of, irate, customers. and that was when i wasn't so connected with my own true nature. i took it personally. i judged and criticized those people who i thought gave me a hard time for what i thought petty things like, how come my papers are not on my front porch, my coffee is getting cold and i'm not getting my sunday papers and you made mistakes in the bill. now i can see that such situations are opportunities to practice seeing divinity in myself and the other while sorting out the tangle of mundane details.

back to the present. back to grace. so as i am sipping a juice of guava and pineapple and working through chicken, salmon, mushroom sauce over rice - a spread of food that are made with love - i ask grace, your job is kind of like what the president's, if it's not difficult it won't go to your desk, you are the last person on the line, so how do you approach it? in her calm voice and even tone grace says, with a sweet smile, listen, let them talk, and then i pick out pieces, i don't forget the goal is to collect but i want them to pay willingly. she goes on to tell me a case. to cut a long story short, she tries all that she can to move the bill dispute forward, she shows this customer what she has done and what she is going to do in a methodical and thorough manner. and then she says, this bill has been around for a very long time, it may go into third party - meaning collections - and it will damage your credit, why don't you pay it while we work with you to get to the bottom of it. surprise. the customer says yes and hands her his credit card. hwubby says, you let go of any expectation and only focus on helping him. i say, and not letting her eye off the ball as well. and that is the state of equanimity in action.

i slowly chew on the layers of wisdom and pour some more of those fantastic raspberry sauce over a nice and big bowl of ice cream and fruit salad. hunger in the body and soul are satisfied all at once. really you never know when you come in the presence of a great being who live the highest teachings.

Friday, April 22, 2011

ginger matzo ball. chow mein sandwich. tzadik.

just when i think we are not going to have a passover meal this year because we are wandering jew-neses, meaning we are traveling, things take a turn. we end up having spectacular passover food. and in the home of a tzadik, no less. why do i say joe, our host, is a tzadik? listen to this. he put up an ad to hire a dental assistant. a retired serviceman responded. the guy's training and experience was helping military doctors in the army. joe let him observe for a week. the guy said, i can do it, i want the job. joe said, how much do you want for salary. the guy gave a number. joe said, i can't do that, it's too little, you can't raise a family on that. the guy ended up working for joe for twenty-seven years. i can't take my eyes off joe as he is telling me and hwubby this. his face shines like the sun. his eyes sparkle like stars. he may be seventy-five years of age but there is this youthful vigor radiating from him. he teaches graduate students. he says, with a beaming smile, i love getting up in the morning and working with young people. joe is absolutely one of those people who says humbly and sweetly, i am not spiritual, while evidently living a righteous and full life. he walks the talk. he doesn't talk it. the rabbi says, the almighty does not require good intentions, the deed is what counts, it is what you do that matters.

now back to sue, his wife's, marvelous food. and let me not forget her friend of forty years. what's her name? i don't remember but her ginger matzo balls are forever imprinted in my consciousness. they are so good that this is all i can think of when i try to recall her name. oy, suk wah. as hwubby says, suk wah is all crazy around good food. anyhow, anyhoo, this is a lady who says with a relaxed smile, i did a small seder this year, thirty people. how many matzo balls did she make? six hundred. her mother used to make fourteen hundred just like that. how come german version of matzo ball has ginger? beats me. but it sure tastes fantastic. really kicks up that ball to lofty heights.

i am kind of dubious when i hear that there are bing cherries in the chicken. but a taste crushes my limiting thought. turns out the cherries suffuse the right balance of acid and sugar intoto the browned and red-wined baked chicken thighs and drumsticks. the sauce goes wonderfully with potato kugel. i prefer this way more than a tomato-based sauce. bright and vibrant roasted veggies complement the rich dishes perfectly. yin and yang are in balance. i almost can't stop myself from having more chicken but then i look at the sumptuously seasoned stuffed cabbage and i think to myself, why don't i have another piece of this, it's not everyday you get to have stuffed cabbage as yummm as this. besides i have to leave room for dessert. three macaroon cookies i have. fluffy and light as cloud. melts on tongue.

as i am totally preoccupied with eating tasty info fly around the dinner table. chow mein sandwich. chow mein burger. apparently the way to do it is 'chow mein without noodle.' upon first hearing my mind says, this doesn't make sense, mein is the chinese word for noodle. very quickly it makes total sense to me. take away the noodle the sandwich, or burger, is filled with stir-fried veggies and sliced meat. of course they make de-liish sandwich toppings.

i don't know if i get out of mitzrayim after a meal like this but i surely am more steeped in abundance consciousness.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

ignorance is mitzrayim

hwubby and i are really having fun with this mitzrayim. to us it is no longer just a place, a physical location. rather it is everything that get our mind into that narrow, limiting, enslaving place and make us behave less than who we really are. and i mean, everything. for instance, i sent out friending requests to these two people and, somehow, this thought pops us. they will accept in no time. well, three days later. nothing. so i hear this thought come up. they don't want to be fb friends with me. and another thought. they don't like me. and more thoughts. they only want something from me, now they've got it, they don't want to hear from me anymore. blah blah blah. i tell hwubby all this. he has a good laugh. i start laughing too. come on, suk wah. having more friends don't add extra to your innermost self which is ever full anyway. having less friends, or even no friends, don't take away any of your innermost self which is ever full anyway. i say to hwubby, are you my friend? hwubby says, okay, okay, you are my friend. i am so happy. i take his cane. he is on his walker. the two of us start to get, i mean, dance, out of mitzrayim one step at a time.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

get outta mitzrayim.

what is the essence of passover? why is something ancient relevant to me right now? once i find out the layers of meaning of the hebrew word, mitzrayim that is translated into egypt my love for passover has never looked back. really. check this out. a narrow place. narrow consciousness. where you are stuck in slave consciousness. hear this insight. you can take a slave out of egypt but you can't take the egypt out of him/her. i examine my own journey. so true. i have these fantastic experiences of who i am, courage, strength, joy, all that good stuff and so much more. yet, time and time again, because of limiting thoughts and feelings and emotions based in poverty consciousness which is none other than slave consciousness i behave like a lacking person who depends on others' mercy. and so i have to wander in the wilderness, build up that inner strength and clarity. after all, in the desert what else is there to see outside. not much. between the cosmos and sand i look within and, behold, i see what i am. i taste manna, throbs of sweet peace, waves of steady strength pulsing through my entire being. the hunger and thirst in body and soul are satisfied. so i say it again and again to myself, pass over mitzrayim, get outta mitzrayim. may it be so.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

inner pharaoh

pharaohs are like all things in the physical universe. they come. they go. one down. another one up. the only pharoah that i can really have a rein on is my inner pharaoh. really. all that which keep me in poverty consciousness are stuff of a pharaoh's doing. last night after hwubby and i have a discussion about what is our inner pharaoh i go to bed feeling this sense of a hard layer gradually shielding the heart region. i watch it. i don't pin it onto any specific thing. mostly it is a pervading sense of sadness, sorrow, melancholy. what causes it? really. it can be anything. one thing is as good as the other. there's always some reason to make worrying and fear seem real and justifiable. early on a wise yogi says to me, the problem is not the problem, it's your problem with the problem that is the problem. this morning i wake up and find my awareness in this vast, quiet, still space that is throbbing subtly with vibrancy. the natural breath is flowing in and out with ease. i lie there. i see this hardness around the heart is still around but now i look at it with a fresh eye. insights appear like silk being drawn from cocoon. on one hand they make sense of this hardness. on another hand they, along with the hardness, come and go as well. none of it, good or bad, sad or pleasurable, is who i really am. the body comes and goes. thoughts, feelings come and go. it is my innermost self that is the single constant through all this. it is independent of anything in the physical universe. it is watching all this and all this and all this come and go. i am enslaved to nothing and no one. anything that makes me feel less than that is the voice of the pharaoh.

Monday, April 18, 2011

to go for the highest, travel light.

seder is right up there, my top fave spiritual activity that has food and grocery seamlessly woven into the teachings. taste buds are titillating. sensory pleasures are evoked. all for the purpose of drawing out the unshakable faith within us. when we call out with all our hearts and souls we do get response though it mostly doesn't come in a shape and size that we would like. in this case, to break free of slavery we have to leave all comforts, relative and meager as they are, behind and go into wilderness. since there isn't much to look at outside all we have are what come up within and, o me o my, what powerful stuff they are.

i say seder is spiritual democracy in action. you don't need to go to a temple or any house of worship. you don't need a rabbi. my first seder was with hwubby in a graduate apartment in mills college in the first year of our marriage. just the two of us. i prepare gefilte fish with gusto. i make charoset, roast the shank bone. my eyes are watery from the fresh horseradish. the grassy freshness of parsley refreshes my enthusiasm. a simple bread of flour and water affirms that you don''t need to take much with you to plunge into life-changing adventure. as a matter of fact i need to leave behind all that which make me stuck in the narrow land of poverty consciousness. to go for the highest, travel light. i remember i feel like a queen as hwubby and i sing a raucous and joyous dayenu. i look at all those mental stuff, habits, tendencies as the plagues that veil me from experiencing who i really am.  i pass them over. from that seder on i feel so hebrew. why not? i am a boundary crosser. i am definitely an israelite. of course. i wrestle with god day and night. and so, chag sameach. good yentiv. may we always remember who we really are and where we ought to live.

Friday, April 15, 2011

choose that which takes you closer to god

is this a message from the inner self? or not? this is the question. as my meditation practice is getting stronger and stabler, little by little, over time, the difference between the choices becomes more and more subtle. not utterly black and white, but rather in a gray zone of various hues. hwubby and i made a decision a couple of days ago. it has consequences that ripple out in all areas of our life. even though we had been doing due diligence, keeping our vigilance and clarity in check in the course leading up to our decision i soon see doubt appear. what if...maybe i should have done this...may be i shouldn't have done i doing the right thing...blah blah blah. in the moment all these thoughts and feelings are real as can be. and as i reflect on it i don't think i was aware of my breath throughout these mental grips. as the agony came to a peak an insight bursts forth. see what happens when you wake up. i get it right away. between sleeping and waking states is this zone that is sort of like deep outer space. with eyes closed i am in this vast place that is quiet, still, crystal clear and suffused with a throb that is subtle and vibrant all at once. here i can see what i cannot see when there are all kinds of thoughts and mental activity clamoring my attention. so, fast forward to the next morning. i am in that space. i look into it. none of those thoughts and feelings that were hammering me the previous day is around. aaah. so they have dissipated. all that i experience is a sense of deep peace and contentment. i glide into it further. and i hear this. the decision is neither good nor bad. it is what it is. now move on. with that i see possibilities open up in all directions as a result of this decision. now i can explore them. isn't that great. then i recall this teaching. choose that which takes you closer to god. if they are pretty much the same in this way, do what's practical.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

a boon in disguise

i don't go out in the evenings. if i do it is a super-duper special event. so when i feel this desire to say yes to this facebook invite i think it is because the host and hostess are fellow yogis who are dear to me. so there we are, hwubby and i, having a wonderful time with all these people in a gallery, celebrating the creativity and birthday of a fine yogi, tom franco. by the way, all these years, i pretty much see tom in between extended meditations. while i meditate on my elaborately arrangement of blankets and cushions tom dedicates to selfless service to create and sustain a meditative environment for seekers. he's a major boon to humanity. we nod and smile at each other and i feel so close to him. anyway, anyhoo, i am so thrilled to see him in his full artistic glory.

while i am enjoying the yummy birthday cake and the spread of refreshment that julia, tom's sweetheart, collaborator and life partner so lovingly has put together  i notice hwubby absorbed in a conversation with a highly esteemed yogi. so later i say, out of curiosity, you had a nice time with vinod, huh? hwubby says, he knows what happened to me, and he doesn't mince words. i say, what do you mean, what does he say? well, vinod says, to this effect, you had a rest, it's a boon in disguise, you had to learn something, you were made sure to learn it. hwubby says, what is it? vinod says, discipline. and then he gazes into hwubby and says, you got off dirt cheap. really. who knew we would be illumined with such divine understanding while a hot band is rocking out a few feet from we stand. i realize there isn't a spiritual life within and a worldly life without. it's one life.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

we are a guac black hole

six of us doing the practices together. sweet and intimate. we chant rudram with our guru on dvd. i have no doubt she is with us right here in shivaa's divine abode and we have her all to ourselves. i feel that much closer to god, that much closer to my own true nature, my innermost self, the source of all that i am. as i glide into meditation on the wave of resonance from our singing om this steady throb pulses through my entire being. the scents of shivaa's blooming roses quietly infuse through the windows and dusk lights and permeate my awareness.

we emerge from all this with a bottomless appetite for food. shivaa says, i made this guac with five huge avocados. and? we wipe it all out to the last drop. we are surely a guac black hole. i, for one, have two big bowls of shivaa's spring soup. tender fava beans in a shittake broth enriched by coconut milk. slivers of a variety of mushrooms float together with bits of carrots and red pepper flakes. a hint of ginger gives it an extra subtle buzz. for salad shivaa does this spring number. cole slaw with mint. lorraine is the first one who raves about it. i take a bite and my jaw drops. a brilliant move.

stomach satisfied and mind quiet i hitch a ride home with shrileka continuing with our spiritual catching up. as far as i am concerned that is the real dessert. insights and understandings arising from us examining and reflecting our experiences sweeten our perceptions as we take care of all kinds of life challenges. we realize more and more all this is grace. all this is grace. and all this is grace. as a seasoned yogi says about hwubby's taxi hit, a boon in disguise. now, ain't that sweet.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

glorious meatball soup

on one hand i am a meditation nut, total believer. on another hand at the end of a long and difficult day there's nothing like a bowl of steaming glorious meatball soup that, in one spoonful and bite can instantly lift me up to the seventh heaven. the adorably sized meatballs are featherlight and juicy and perfectly textured and seasoned. without a doubt the best meatballs i have ever had. ever. hwubby agrees. and the soup is light and rich all at once. loads of cabbage and carrot. my body and mind heave a huge sigh of relief as the flavorful and fragrant warmth course through all the tight and stressed out nooks and crannies. and here's the wonder of all wonders. one bowl and i don't feel hunger gnawing me. i am satisfied. gulping down some more would be violating the sacredness of such divine creation. so, thank you, a big thank you to orah. you sure know how to ball up magic.

Monday, April 11, 2011

not getting caught up in the finite

today's meditation is one of those when there's nothing to do but to take refuge again and again and again in the breath flow. towering thought waves suck attention under their massive momentum. they sweep awareness brutally along. i am literally under water at the wild mercy of mental activity. at the times when i catch myself reacting to the thoughts with more thoughts i manage to tenuously cling to a thread of breath. from the horizon of this vast turmoil i hear a faint recurring echo. it will go away. i will sit through this. and so i do. while it is a struggle i emerge from meditation with a renewed sense of watchfulness. i realize what would happen if i don't strive to stay close to the breath as much as i can. i would block grace and be unable to see what i ought to see. whatever the contents of the mental activity and even though they feel so real and do contain some grains of truth, like rare grains of gold in a huge mound of sand, they distract me from being connected to my own true nature, from taking what are reflections in the mirror of consciousness to be consciousness itself, from getting caught up in the finite waves in the infinite ocean of consciousness.

Friday, April 8, 2011

i listen. i show up.

there i am preparing for a meeting with my editor and i get this recurring inner message. be there earlier. the first couple of times i dismiss it as a tendril of worrying. really. i am making sure i will be on time. at the time when we made the appointment time she made clear that she had a lot of phone calls to make before seeing me. so i am ready to disregard this prompting as just a recurring thought. but it keeps returning. stronger and stronger. not a shouting voice. no snowballing, i mean, i don't see the mind get caught up in reacting thoughts like if i don't go there earlier this and that would happen or not happen. here's what i finally decide. i'll go into her neighborhood half an hour earlier and take a swirl through a favorite grocery store and see how i feel at that point. so i do. i even get a cup of coffee and sip as slow as i can. but this thought is relentless. it steps up intensity. so i think to myself. okay, what the heck, i'll be outside her house a few minutes earlier. check this out. when i am a couple of houses from my editor's i see these two women getting into a car. i immediately recognize the one getting on the passenger's side is my editor. the first thought i have is this. she has forgotten my appointment. i wave and pace up at the same time. it turns out that a friend is taking my editor to the hospital. it's an emergency. the bottom line is this. if i didn't show up a few minutes earlier i would have been left on the doorstep. i would have been waiting and waiting and outraged. instead i show up and offer her healing blessings. thank you, my innermost and highest self.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

keep eye on the highest.

i had my share of travel days. i would love to go to places far away and just roam. now that i have a solid meditation practice all i need is to go into the meditation closet, sit on the mat, close my eyes, settle attention in the breath flow, and i enter this space that is way larger than the body. it is actually sort of like the deep outer space. i can't see the edge of it. yet it is held within my being. with every breath this sense of marvel builds and builds and builds. there are days that i come out of meditation reluctantly because there are things that have to be taken care of. the desire to go deeper and higher into this space gets stronger with each meditation. as a matter of fact when i first got the call that hwubby was hit by a taxi in new york among my very first thoughts was this. o, no, i hope i can keep meditating every day. as it turns out i get to stay in a two bedroom garden level apartment in a townhouse all that time. i have it all to myself. not only do i get to meditate everyday i even have my own meditation room. one three a.m. i awake to this magical vista in the courtyard. overnight snow transform the space into a fantasy landscape. bluish white domes sit on top of pots. sparkling white snakes cling to tree branches. as i take in this i hear this message from within. keep your eye on the highest and you'll be fine. i feel more than fine. i feel i am with life and life is with me.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

make space for grace. let go.

a friend just finds out hwubby's pedestrian knockdown episode. she says, that's awful, i'm sorry you had to go through such horror. not missing a beat hwubby says kindly and sincerely, no, i don't think of it this way, not anymore, i really look at it as a growing experience that is still unfolding. our friend says, how so? hwubby says, in the moment when i realize the taxi is coming right at me at, i'd say, thirty-five miles at least, the first thought i have is, why is he doing this, and then the next thought is, what's going to happen, and all this happen in like a nano of a millisecond, and then i am just filled with this clear certainty, don't resist, let go, and i do, and the doctors say that's probably why i have sustained less injuries than it would have been, i have no head injuries, spinal injuries, no surgery needed in the multiple-fractured pelvis, and now as i am dealing with picking up the pieces in work and in life i have to keep reminding myself, let go, let go, and i can see how it is all making space for what's supposed to happen to happen. our friend listens intently with wide open eyes. indeed. hwubby is right. knock out the old stuff. make space for grace.

Monday, April 4, 2011

patience rules. perseverance trumps all else.

the great people of japan are showing the world how to live in the present. everyday i include them in my meditation. but it is they who are blessing me with their shining examples. their quiet, steady presence don't make the stuff of spectacular news headlines. patience rules. perseverance trumps all else. not really sexy, catchy to the physical eyes. yet, i know from my own one-step-forward, ten-step-back journey on the path, the wings of patience and perseverance hold me up and lift me through tsunamis and massive earthquakes in turbulent mental waters and roller-coaster circumstances. okay, i am wrong to say there are absolutely no drama that can be captured in this seemingly muddled toil. how about this? a road that is split into chasms looking like miniature grand canyon during the earthquake is repaired and paved brand new after three days. three days. as my guru says, again and again, to this effect, with patience, you can attain anything.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

he doesn't understand me. true?

a while back, like nineteen years back, several months into my stay in the ashram, i had this encounter with a swami. this memory hasn't surfaced for this long until now when i am reflecting on the impact of a regular meditation practice on the arc of life, rather than being tunnel-vision, nitpicking the day-to-day meditation experiences. so, back to the encounter. this swami is not into small talk. really, really, not into it. we are walking on a path through the sprawling woods on the ashram grounds, in opposite directions. i don't't expect him to say anything to me at all. so i am surprised when he says, suk wah. my mind goes blank. his eye stays on me, and says, how are you doing? by knee jerk reaction i blurt out, fine. i am all but fine inside. i cannot sit still on the meditation mat for more than a minute. the mind is constantly churning out thoughts, feelings and reactions that are judgmental, anxious, angry, sad, blah blah blah. and they all feel important to me. they are so real. i am so frustrated that meditation can't make them go away. recently i see this horrific image of innumerable cargo containers chaotically piling on top of each other after the tsunami in japan. that's sort of how chaotic and out of control my mind is at that point. those unyielding mental tsunami totally gut out my connection to my inner self. i want to ask the swami an intelligent and smart and thoughtful question to show him what an evolved yogi i am. but, oy, i can't think of a word. i am babbling on and on here. in the moment it lasts exactly that. a moment. no wonder the scripture says thought travels faster than the speed of light. anyway the swami pauses for a moment, and says to me, keep meditating. then he walks away. i remember now clearly my reaction to his words. i think to myself, no, you don't understand what i am going through.

nineteen years later. i realize he does know what i go through. that day on the path in the woods i am in a muddled state. the mind is going through a tsunami. i get swept up in the towering waves of dark thoughts, feelings and reactions. in the teachings of the buddha i take what's impermanent permanent. now i know all thoughts, feelings and reactions come. and go. without exceptions. unless i hold on to them. unless i feed into them. this is where my regular meditation practice take me across these turbulent waters. i gently return attention to the steady, rhythmic movement in the natural and easy breath while i notice and observe these mental waves. i don't treat one more important than the other. the differences in contents don't matter. what matters is my attention go underneath the contents and stay with the power of the throb that is obviously driving these mental waves.

yes, the swami understands me. he knows i have what it takes to keep meditating. he knows in time i will come to see what i need to see if i keep meditating. thank you, swamiji.

Friday, April 1, 2011

starting from square one. a higher square.

since meditation is about working on invisible stuff like habitual tendencies, limiting concepts and ideas, and so on and so forth how do i measure progress given my day-to-day meditation experience is mostly subtle. here's what i come to. it's kind of like i can't see and touch time but i can measure the impact of time. o, fig branches are bare. it's winter. o, fig branches start bearing fruit again. so it's spring. in a similar way i watch my thoughts, feelings, reactions. i don't take things personal anymore because i know with unshakable faith that nothing anybody does or say add or take away the fullness of my own self. naturally, then, it's easier for me to stay calm in otherwise what my ego self would consider upsetting. in fact, over the course of my teenage and young adult years there was this unyielding anguish that relentlessly gnaw at my heart. there were times it was so intense that i thought i was a hair close to going insane. now i know it was an expression of my earnest yearning to connect with my own self, the boundless place of inner calm, strength and joy. i didn't have the concept nor the language to comprehend what i was going through. i went through aborted attempts to set up a meditation practice, meaning there were times it really felt like i wasn't making any progress what with endless frustration and tumultuous mental turmoil. but the truth is i never really gave up. i keep coming back to it, starting from square one. now as i reflect on it, i see that i started on a square that is deeper and higher than the previous one. i just couldn't see it in the moment.