You Are Love

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Dear Friend,

I love you. You try so hard to be good, and you already ARE good.  You easily extend lovingkindness to others, now it is time to give this same lovingkindness to yourself.  You are loved so much more than your rational mind can fathom…so take a moment and put your rational mind down, let it rest on the waves of your breath.

Love is what made you,
this world,
the sun, moon, stars, planets,
forests, mountains, trees, and animals.

Loves is what keeps all particles,
all atoms,
circling one another,
orbiting in this dance of attraction;
it holds these atoms together
as they join into molecules
as molecules join
into measurable substance–

Your body,
your brain,
your flesh, blood, bones,
love is what holds
all of these parts of you together
that you might be you.

Love is the force of change
that reminds you to breathe
when suddenly you realize
you have been holding your breath.

Love is the awareness that
chooses to breathe
once you remember
that deep, conscious breathing
is a choice.

Love is the discernment
that chooses the breath over neurotic thinking;
it is the steady hand
that pulls you up
out of the pit of dark thoughts
when you have fallen in
and can’t find a way out.

Love is the force
that turns the earth
that we may witness
a sunrise each morning
and a sunset each evening.

It is the ability and the willingness
to forgive yourself
when you don’t believe you can.

It is the nurturing voice
within you
that reminds you
to take care of yourself,
the power in your stomach
to digest and absorb nutrients from your food.

Love is in your feet
when they walk you away from harm,
in your feet
when they walk you toward a friend.

Love is everywhere
Everywhere you are love
Everywhere love is you.

Love is the hand
that keeps writing your truth
The voice
that keeps speaking your truth
The body
that keeps dancing your truth
when the fearful one within
demands that you stop.

It is the laughter you muster
when the fearful one tries
to convince you
that you can do nothing right.

Love is the hope,
the trust,
the realization,
that everything is unfolding as it should.

It is the settling into stillness
at the end of a long day
and the permission
to let go completely.

You are love, 
remember–
YOU ARE LOVE.

Sitting and Walking

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We had our meditation retreat today…for multiple hours, we alternated between chunks of time spent in seated meditation and chunks of time spent in walking meditation.  Sitting with a group and going inwards is so different from my solitary twice daily meditation practice; today I was hyper aware of the noises people were making, aware of how difficult sitting for prolonged periods of time must be for those who don’t have a regular practice.  I remembered the first months of my meditation practice, how pretty much every time I sat my brain was screaming to me to stop, letting me know how futile my efforts were.  I can only imagine that some of my fellow trainees were thinking similar thoughts. But here’s to making it through the retreat and coming out the other side with at least a little more awareness than before.

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Wherever we go
our thoughts follow.
Take some time to become familiar with them,
so that you can greet them as you would an old friend.

Ah there you are again! you say to some old regret,
Let me hold you until you no longer need to be held.
There is space for you here.

Sitting or walking, let your mind slow down
and find solace in the sound of your breathing.
Meditation isn’t about finding unending bliss–
it’s about finding you, the REAL you,
who you are in this moment,
and loving the being that you are.

Once that love bubbles up and pours out of you,
you will have no choice but to feel bliss.
You will have remembered who you really are.

Can You Listen?

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You are speaking,

but do I really hear you?
We disagree,
and now I will block out what you say
until your mouth stops moving,
at which point I will start moving my mouth
with words you most likely will not hear.

Is this loving? Is this helpful?
Are we becoming closer, more connected in this way?
Will I gain insight into your being,
will you gain insight into mine?

You are speaking,
so I stop what I am doing
and I simply listen.

I wait until you are finished speaking,
and then I pause…
I pause…
I reflect on what you have said,
and I respond carefully,
with the sincere desire to grow closer to understanding you,
because I know that you are a child of the universe,
and worthy of my time and energy;
you are worthy of being seen, and heard, and known.

Is this loving? Is this helpful?
Are we becoming closer, more connected in this way?
Will I gain insight into your being,
will you gain insight into mine?

Ahh, the gift of compassionate communication–
this bridge straight from my heart to yours,
this knowing that both hearts are sacred,
this respect for the being that you are,
especially if I don’t agree with you.

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It’s another teacher training weekend.  After tomorrow we will have just three remaining weekends until we’re finished with our 500 hour teacher training.  It’s hard to believe that it’s almost over!  We’re becoming closer as a group, and I’m starting to notice some strong trends in the way members of the group associate with one another and in the way the resulting group dynamics are played out.  Sometimes I become aware of group members relating to one another as if they were brothers and sisters.  The way many of us talk all at once during particularly heated discussions, the way we seek our teacher’s attention–it feels strangely like sibling rivalry .  As I watched one young woman become particularly adamant about sharing her point of view today, I started to wonder if she had any room in her mind to consider a different perspective.  The ability to hold two opposing ideas in one’s head at the same time is a sign of wisdom.  The flip side, being hell-bent on convincing others that your point of view is correct–this is a mark of immaturity, or insecurity, or ignorance, or possibly all of these.
After witnessing the mostly one-sided conversation, I pondered the idea of being able to listen even when you don’t agree with the person who is talking.  My poem arrived tonight, allowing me to further explore the idea of skillful listening.  I hope that my listening can improve as time goes on…what a gift that would be.

 

In This…

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Life is so full of contradictions.
Yoga teacher training night,
and I wanted to be back home
while simultaneously enjoying
being in the company
of my fellow trainees.

I want simplicity,
and yet I make choices that complicate.

I’d like to lighten my load of earthly possessions,
and yet I accumulate more.

I want to share so much love with others,
and I still have places within me
that are asking for my love.

Life is so full of contradictions.

Meanwhile,
the earth spins around the sun
and the moon hovers close
to the earth
in this solar system,
in this galaxy,
in this universe,
in this…

Let’s Do Our Job

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It occurred to me tonight
as I invoked the muses before writing,
that yes,
it is nice to have divine inspiration,
but it can’t do much if we don’t receive
what it is we are asking for.

Let’s get clear on what we want:

beauty
peace
joy
love
harmony
abundance
health
synchronicity
creativity
clarity
communion
contentment–

and then let us receive these things we ask for,
by breathing in deeply.

Then feeling the existence of these wondrous qualities within us,
let us share them with all beings
by giving of ourselves,
breathing out completely.

Yes, invoke divine beings–
angels, teachers, guides,
but then let’s do our job too.

Let’s Breathe.

Softening into the Flow

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Pause,
Become aware of your surroundings.
Feel where your body touches the world.
Bring your awareness to the weight and warmth
where your body touches your own body.

As you breathe,
exhale long and slow,
softly sigh as though releasing a heavy load.
Let go into gravity.
Allow the inhalation to come naturally,
effortlessly receive the breath.

Scan your body for signs of tensions.
Breathe your awareness into those regions.
As you exhale, soften and open around the tension. Smile to yourself.
Gently remind yourself,
“I don’t need to hold this in my body.”

After scanning and releasing throughout your whole body,
allow all sensations to flow within the space of your
awareness; experience the symphony of life resonating within your body.
Remember–there is space for all sensations within your experience.

If tension or pain still remains, soften around it.
Allow the sensations to float freely and to change without resistance.
Gently bring your awareness to the flow of thoughts, feelings,
and images in your mind.
Simply notice (without commentary) how they change from
moment to moment.
Attend to the process of change without concern for the particular
content of the thoughts and images.

If you notice your attention tightening
around any thought, feeling, image, or sensation,
simply notice the gripping,
smile to yourself,
breath into it,
and let it flow.

–Joel & Michelle Levey,
                              The Fine Arts of Relaxation, Concentration, and Meditation,   pp  29-30

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Here you are friends, another easy relaxation exercise that doesn’t take too much time out of your busy day.  Carrying tension in your body is work; it requires physical energy to keep your muscles contracted.  When you consciously release tension from your body, you free up the energy that was devoted to keeping muscles in their contracted state to be used for other purposes, like healing, concentrating, moving efficiently, digesting your food properly, drawing on higher order thinking skills for problem solving, creativity, need I go on?

Take a moment for yourself to let go of tension and breathe.  And then encourage someone you love to do the same.  Bam! Two more people in the world ready to experience more joy in their lives!

Setting Down the Burdens

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What invisible weight have you been carrying
right there on your shoulders–
Is it the weight of the world?

Well now it is time to shrug,
allow that invisible weight to fall off,
and then bow your head to the earth.

Rest, friend, rest.
Breathe, relax, let go.
Find stillness, for a moment, just be.

When you set down your burdens,
imagined and real,
there is now a chance to feel your lightness.

It is there in the rhythm of your breath,
there in the rhythm of your days, the seasons,
there in the wind, in the water,
in the music that reminds you of the beauty in this life.

When you are feeling strong again, and ready,
you can pick up whatever it was you were carrying,
perform your service in this world for the benefit of all–

But don’t forget to set the burdens down from time to time,
and see who you are without them.
You need both work and rest to be happy, healthy,
in harmony with all of life.