Earth life is slow

We are creatures of Earth; our life is part of the life of the Earth, and we draw our nourishment from it just as plants and animals do. Earth life is slow; autumn and winter are as essential to it as spring and summer, and rest is as essential as motion.

-Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness

It is winter, the days are dark, and nature does not offer up the comfort of warmth. But instead of complaining or decrying this, we can accept it as a part of the creative cycle.

Our bodies need rest. So do our minds. This time of year we can take more time for that by recognizing that everything has a time and place and season. Trust that you will progress and grow, when it is the right time. Spring brings energy, transition, a pushing outward. Winter brings quiet, inner reflection, an evening gathering with friends that is a natural response to the short days, and finally, sleep.

Let the bare trees of this season remind us that we are also needing to look at the bare facts of ourselves, the naked truth of who we are. That will be the starting point for all our love and all our work in the year to come.

Standing At the Edge

standing at the edge

the first step

is the only step

-even now, by jill sabella & rosemerry wahtola trommer

A New Year, and what are your resolutions? I prefer to think of them as dreams, dreams I’ve resolved to make real.

Here are a few of mine:

  • More play. I don’t get enough and it is beginning to show.
  • More collaboration. I want to work with and alongside people more rather than on my own.
  • More poetry. I received a beautiful little gift called “even now” for Christmas. It has only 3-line poems resembling haiku, accompanied by artwork of only three brushstrokes. Minimalist, profound, I’ll be sharing them here.
  • A devotional book. I’ve long wanted to publish a devotional based on humanist spirituality. I can’t figure out how to get it started, but start it I must.

In order to do anything or add anything to our lives, I believe, we must stop doing something else. Law of equal and opposite reaction. If I want to do these four things, I will have to stop doing some other things.

That’s a tough one, especially if the “stop doing” list involves other people’s expectations. Family members have a way of making us cling to old behaviors, since it often benefits them emotionally.

Don’t try to tackle all of the emotional hurdles at once. Standing at the edge, the first step is the only step.

Fearlessness

Fearlessness is not like a wild tiger or brown bear that is locked up in a cage and growls every time you open the door. Fearlessness is powerful, but it also contains gentleness and constant loneliness and sadness.

from Chögyam Trungpa, “Smile At Fear”

I love this quote because it is so counter-intuitive and challenging.

Why would fearlessness not be like a wild tiger? Why would it contain sadness?

There is a certain kind of fearlessness that disconnects from our own and other’s pain. Usually a result of a painful experience in early childhood, and a subsequent denial of that pain as a protective mechanism.

We may feel fearful and timid. Timidity may manifest as a lack of boundaries. When those have been violated enough, when we have not been brave enough to stand up for ourselves, we might finally become fearless. We might desire to be like the tiger or the bear in that moment.

But to access a state of fearlessness, we do not have to resort to anger, or wait until we have been tread upon so many times that we no longer care what anyone thinks.

We can access a genuine sense of wholeness, of self connected to the natural universe, of strength like the seed growing, and of the gentle yet powerful shining of the sun.

Be fearless today, but do it softly. Even tigers can be soft.

Like Watering Seeds

It is like watering the seeds in a garden. In this case, the gentleness that develops is like the moisture that helps a seed to grow so that greenery will unfold and flowers will blossom. Then, beyond that, you develop confidence.

The ordinary sense of confidence is confidence about something, which is conditional or qualified. But in this case, gentleness and softness give rise to an unconditional feeling that is awake, brilliant, and warm.

When we have both moisture and warmth, we know that the plant will definitely grow. That confidence is the seed that we should share with the rest of the world.

Chogyam Trungpa, “Smile At Fear”

The Reason You Are Tired

Feeling exhausted? It’s important to know the reason.

I’ve taken some time off of this blog, because I have been starting a new business. Now, in addition to my full-time violin teaching, I am a fundraising and performance coach. I didn’t intend to add this business, but I have a paying client, and I needed to make everything legal.

So I’ve been going faster and farther every day. I hit a wall this week, began to feel like I was over-reaching. Waking tired every morning, not much fun.

Sometimes being tired is a good thing. After a good rejuvenating workout, for example, the feeling of being spent is a healthy state and can last all day in returned energy.

Other times tiredness is a sign of ill health, especially if chronic or recurring.

I’ve felt both. In this case my tiredness is simply from pursuing big goals. I wrote this in my journal today:

Remember the reason you are tired. You are pushing ahead, you are building a life, you are realizing a vision. You’ve already come so far, done what others can’t or won’t. The reason are willing to keep working is that you believe in making a difference.

A Dream of Autumn

A dream:

I am lying in a bed of golden leaves.

It is afternoon in Autumn. Gold light shines through a canopy above me. The bed is thick and soft, it seems made for me. I am resting after a long journey. Light, warmth and softness are all around me.

There is a child here, playing nearby. I am looking after him. An older woman walks up and says hello to the child. She quietly entertains him for awhile.

Eventually I feel the sun getting lower in the sky. I sadly tell the child it is almost time to go. But I want to linger there and feel the light, the carefree rest, and the sense of the child’s joy. I feel a sense of belonging.

The elements to this dream are listed in 10,000 Dreams Interpreted by Pamela Ball:

  • GOLD – wealth, probably not of money, but spirituality.
  • LIGHT – divine revelation, expressed in the dream as energy
  • LEAVES – assessing how growth has occurred or may occur now
  • AUTUMN – letting go, preserving good in a time that is ending, old age and the mellow restful feelings it brings
  • CHILD – inner child, playful innocence
  • OLD WOMAN – feminine, the anima, spontaneous and nurturing

Interpreting this dream, I would say I have arrived at a time when I will come into the fruits of a long period of spiritual work. I am 42 years old, and entering the second half of life, the time of autumn.

Being in the presence of the child and the woman is an interesting and, I feel, quite profound aspect of the dream. These are archetypal images. It is as though I am discovering anew the aspects of myself that are pure, childlike, and feminine. It could also be that placing myself within an environment of spiritual insight and discovery puts me in touch with the feeling of wealth, which in turn relaxes me and allows me to be more spontaneous and nurturing of others, especially children.

The bed of leaves made of gold, made for me, providing luxurious rest underscores the need for retreat, for rest so that I can access these animating forces in my life, this light and energy.

Caring for a child is significant in that my profession as a violin teacher is now about children. Specifically helping them through music to find joy and belonging, self-expression and confidence.

What does the sadness mean, at realizing the sun is setting? Is it that the end eventually must come, or is it that there are other aspects of my life that are ending? Perhaps the sense of childlike wonder and playfulness is transient, and a sense of responsibility calls me away from the scene of rest. Perhaps it is simply that most of my childhood is gone now, and while getting in touch with it is restorative, it is a temporary reprieve meant to allow me to return to the world.

The joy and belonging I felt in the dream are truly encouraging to me. They are something I have been searching for.

SONY DSC

Bed of Autumn