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Showing posts from 2021

Tailgate

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I don't know whether it’s illegal or just bad.  I do know it has potential to cause destruction. Sometimes it’s almost like I want to be in the same seat as the other person.  It’s too close. Oh, I’m a good driver.  Thankfully I’ve never caused an accident.  But this word... "tailgate"came to mind when I tried to pinpoint the cause of the heavy heart that wouldn’t lift.  Tailgate.   Notably, I don't like to drive - and have recall of driving "tailgate"  - still the principle seems to fit. You see, if I’m not mindful I can be one of those people who sees my life through other people’s rear window - and that’s never the best view. No matter how close I get, looking at my life through other people's lives is never going to be healthy. In fact, it’s such a distorted perspective it’s destructive.  I can crash or more to the point crush my own heart.  Fortunately, most of the time I don’t drive my life (and never drive a literal vehicle) so as to tailgate. Min

Purslane

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Believed to be a native to North Africa, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent, Purslane  reached Europe by the late 16th century. It now grows in most parts of the world, preferring tropical weather and/or warm temperatures. Cultivated more than 4,000 years for food and medicinal use, this weed still serves both purposes today.  Considered very nutritious, Purslane is high in omega-3 fatty acids (like those in fish and flax seeds), with other health properties such as vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium and antioxidants.  Both leaves and seeds are edible and Purslane is prominently used in cuisine around the world. Writing a series of essays on weeds is about finding hidden meaning, uncovering nuisances and discovering purposefulness in unexpected places.  In many ways it is a metaphor for how I’ve found ways to dig myself out of some the muck and mire circumstances in living life.  It’s a salient reminder about the intent of the practices I embrace to help

Nettle

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Nettle has a lot, a lot of bling. Or more appropriately a lot of bite, referring to sting of nettle leaves. Although nettle has heart-shaped leaves, with pretty yellow or pink flowers, the stem is covered in tiny, stiff hairs that release stinging chemicals when touched. The history of nettle stems from Egyptian antiquity, to the Roman Empire to the Scots soups. Its biological name is "Urtica Dioica" associated with the Latin word "uro" meaning "I bite" which has stuck with nettle. Still both bling and bite fit this intense, multipurpose herb. Those "biting" leaves of nettle can be dried and used as powders, tinctures, creams, teas, beer and even cloth found from the Bronze age. As a medicinal nettle i s high in nutrients and may help reduce inflammation, manage blood sugar, lower blood pressure, hay fever as well as other conditions. There's a lot to nettle; more medicinal, culinary and that which has yet to be discovered for those willing

Softly

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Softly, softly. I can’t remember where I heard that phrase.  A popular movie line?  A famous poetic refrain?  A great speech?  It will come to mind when I go “softly, softly” releasing the effort to press hard for recall.  I’m guessing that was the context of the original phrase; embracing the concept of easily moving toward the goal.  Paradoxically, the concept that "harder gets the results" is more widely accepted. Perhaps it depends on the situation which concept is appropriate. Indeed, in mindfulness it's not how hard you work, it's how committed you are to the practice.  I can remember first being introduced to mindfulness practice in a group setting and how several people were hard pressed to “get it” and get on to the next steps.  However, the facilitator explained “softly, softly” (that was not the exact phrase) was the approach for best benefit.  I for one, was very glad to hear that; it suited my spirit and I’ve way continued the practice in many the years s

Beyond

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Maybe the acting is bad. Maybe the Director of Photography didn't get the lighting perfect. Maybe the plot was absolutely implausible. So what! And maybe if  Steele Wool  would have had half the budget of one of those failed superhero serial films (especially those of the last decade); it might have succeeded where those films flopped. Yes, a budget of $200 million dollars might have made this indie movie “better” for some; those unable to see beyond the “indie film” label to its success. In this dark comedy, a deaf wife (Cameri Valera as Wool) gets rid of her abusive husband without getting caught. When the leader of a professional assassination group finds out who interfered with their hit and their payment, they make her an offer she can’t refuse. As it turns out, Wool is excited to take the deal and without checking, she ropes her old ex in as her partner for her new gig as a professional assassin. Yes, the plot is a bit tangled, but so were movies such as “Get Shorty” and “Pul

Park

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  A walk in the park and I thought, “Oh, yes!  That’s why they call it a park!” and “Oh, yes, That’s why they call it mindfulness!” Where would we be without parks?  In a vacant lot?  Trying to walk leisurely over rocks and boulders?  Holding the breath passing filthy landfills, instead of breathing in fragrant lavender of a park garden?  As I strolled the park one early morning, taking in the green of the grass, the tall trunks of the trees, the beautiful colors and fragrance of the blossoming flowers, I realized not only why we have parks, I felt how important it is “to park” our mind.  That is to go to the park, to be in the park , to park a nd just be.   The concept that comes to consciousness is “stop and smell the roses” (or any other flower that might be in your space).   Mindfulness, I thought, is also be an opportunity “to park” - a time to stop, focus on breath and embrace awareness. In the still presence of my park experience came an insight and simple truth about the nature

Alternatives

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 If it works like magic ... why do it?  Why not do something that works quicker and yields more fun like bar hopping? Why not just get a prescription? If something is bothering you, the quicker the relief, the better is the general reasoning. Why bother with mind exercises when you can take something to make you feel better in an instant...poof! Like magic - what ails you is gone. It's a legitimate question and the answer  is simple: We have a choice. Mindfulness is an option, optional, and for a great many people a healthy alternative. I'm not a doctor and have no medical training, so I refrain from saying mindfulness is a healthier choice. Nevertheless, the move towards healthy alternatives continues to gain momentum. Moreover, because we're all becoming smarter about self-help as well as self health, more options like healthy diets, regular exercise, meditation, yoga and mindfulness are becoming "the" choice alternative. Mindfulness is a practice, and practice

POP

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The Jack-in-Box is a jolly old toy. It’s also a simple toy. For some reason - still unknown to me, the picture of a Jack-in-the-Box popped into my thoughts. I pictured the first time experience of a person when "The Jack" pops out of that box with the big bright red dots, a painted on clown face, a bulb nose, a wide smile, and a funny red top hat. Surprise. Joy. Laughter. Either and all of these might be part of that experience; and the unexpected shift that occurs when what’s inside pops out. Mindfulness as a daily practice can also create an unexpected shift; opening us to better balance. Like the proverbial Jack-in-the-Box, waiting inside (our selves) is an opportunity to spring forth. Chances are a picture of The Jack-in-the-Box isn't how most people visualize mindfulness. And yet, the awareness we experience through the daily practice can uncover many things we might not otherwise see. Mindfulness is old and simple. And with daily practice you might be surprised at w

Heart

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“I’ve been on the path for a while.”   I vividly remember my first true spiritual teacher sharing this as I sat in a conference trying to figure out whether connecting with that spiritual community was a good thing,  The fact is, I was terrified that I was crossing some forbidden boundary that I feared being struck down sooner, rather than later.  The spiritual community was so different from what I had known and been taught growing up that I thought I would be breaking a  law, becoming a sinner, heading for down into the darkest depths, never to return to safety.  And that was the issue, the problem, the torment because even though I felt such a sense of upheaval, never in my life had such truth touched my heart. Which is why I knew this too was the path. It’s over a decade and now when I reflect on that meeting, I  smile at the wise, patient, unbiased counsel my spiritual teacher gave.  I smile because I remember thinking,  How can you know all this stuff...we’re practically the same

Youth

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Parents are amazing people! I am absolutely mystified how they do it. There are so many elements, aspects, challenges to being a parent. Incredibly, it's practically a "learn as you go job" from the moment of conception. Oh sure, there are plenty of "how to" blogs, vlogs, podcasts, books, manuals, classes and time-honored resource of your own parents (soon to be grandparents).  Yes, it's true "It takes a village to raise a child" yet ultimately when everyone goes home to their hut, house, apt ..."the" parent is responsible to parent. In pondering the enormity of being a parent, I realized how wonderful it would be if part of that responsibility is to teach mindfulness practice at a young age. The benefits would be bountiful, the most obvious sharing a practice with your child that can help keep them in balance for a lifetime. These days five-year olds know how to download an APP, why not know how to upload mindfulness? Mindfulness is a si

Fix

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The word "fix" can easily be associated with words like repair, regenerate and restore.  However, “a fix” more often than not means a technique that employs masking tape, crazy glue or in TV Land chewing gum for “a fix” in jam.  Consequently, it's understood that “a fix” is not something you want to repeat.  In fact, to repeat “a fix” may cause a permanent break/breakdown. I always want to remember, to understand, to explain that mindfulness is not "a fix" to what ails our thoughts or disrupts our life.  A practice, unlike "a fix" requires sustained, ongoing commitment to benefit.  Mindfulness is a simple technique of quiet, stillness and focused breathing that can help restore your balance through awareness of the here, now present moment. The intent, purpose, direction is forward as we create better balance on the path of progress and peace. If you would one day renovate yourself, do so from day to day.  Confucius

Comic

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Comedians are pretty brave people. They get up in front of bunch strangers, oftentimes in places far from home, and tell jokes that nobody may laugh at, leaving the comedian looking lost and feeling awkward (so I've read). Likewise, I've heard it said that Hecklers make a bad experience even more challenging, especially during those sessions when nobody finds the comedian funny. It's got to be tough, being among strangers with no support. That's why I say comedians are brave and why I sometimes fantasize about being a comedian. It's not the accolades, the applauds or even the nominal fame that some Comedians reach.  Its being brave, being committed and the continued practice on good and bad days. There's a presumption that comedians (like clowns) are unhappy underneath the jokes (the makeup). The assumption is that comedians (clowns) hide behind funny to keep from crying. The perception may be cliche, although there have been several real life tragedies with com

Here

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  Vivid or morbid?  Like so much it depends on how you look at the thing. I was thinking about how I don't watch certain types of movies because I have such a vivid imagination. Then, I thought, maybe vivid is the other side of morbid. This train (trail) of thought actually came about reading a discussion by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hahn on "Appreciating Where We Are" in his book entitled  Fear.  In this section, he asks us to consider being shipwrecked on the moon. No chance of getting back to Mother Earth. What would the astronauts want most? What would you want most? That answer is to be "here"...on Mother Earth.  It would be the precious moment of the astronaut's life...just to be "here" ...now in the moment. The allegory is a powerful one, which is what got me thinking about my imagination. Imagining be lost, shipwrecked on the moon, never to see Mother Earth again, nor family, nor friends, nor an apple. My mind began to dread the thought and I r

Open

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One An open heart liberates you to love. Two Love opens possibilities. Three Loving is being open to infini te possibilities. S ometimes, something happens to cause imbalance.  You are hurt. You withdraw.  You shut down.  You close your heart.  Sometimes it can hurt so bad you just want to close the door to pain.  I know.  You must find a way to be open; because when you close your heart, you block the flow of life, light and love. Dance, bake, build, meditate, sing, sculpt, compose, color, paint, pray, travel, teach,  film, fish,  run a race, walk a labyrinth, write, hug a pet, keep a friend's baby...do what you will, just be open to love. 

Gift

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One Each of us has a gift. Two Your gift is worth sharing. Three Sharing your gift will be a reward to others and yourself. Maybe you've heard it said before, "Sharing is caring."  However, if that doesn't work for you, know that sharing your gift (your talent) will yield rewards you never imagined. It's true, this follows another axiom that giving is better (or at least) as good as getting. Even children on the playground recognize this (on a basic level) that "When I share, I can make friends. I am doing something nice. I feel good when I share." Still even those of us who understand this positive principle may be reluctant to share, held back by some misunderstanding that only certain kinds of gifts are needed, appreciated and/or rewarded.  The Truth is each of us has a gift (note I didn't say special gift) to share. It doesn't  whether we are a professional, amateur or simply have a natural talent. Your gift may be that you are good with chil

Grow

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One We are born to grow. Two Growth is a process. Three Growing is blossoming. Every living organism experiences growth. The growth of a coffee bean may look different from lettuce growth. A whale's growth looks different from that of a butterfly. Human being growth looks different from plant growth. Yet, there the truth stands that all living organisms grow.  It's what we were born to do.   However, we don't all grow in the same way, at the same time or within the same time frame. You've heard the phrases "He's a big kid," or "She's too big for her britches" or "I wonder if you will ever grow up." There are many more along the same line, and some less than kind and not so cute about the stage, time and or manner of growth of an individual. Granted there are some specific markers that help us know that our growth is making progress. Nonetheless, it's important to understand that growth is  a process for each individual.   Of cou

Inner

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courtesy of peacepaperproductions.com One Love from the inside out. Two Center your mind, body, and spirit from the inside out. Three Joy springs from the inside out  we need to learn, to do, be to "Live Your Best Life Now"  comes from the inner side of self.     We see the head first and know the brain does all the thinking, as well as most of the talking.   Indeed, the head can talk a good game and rarely stops except in our sleep  (and then we may consider the talk of dream).    In fact, it is the brain that does  such a  great job of keeping us alive,  well and out of trouble from day to day. However, the head is the surface.     The heart is the inner side of self where love begins, lives, and glows. The inner side is our emotions, desires and deeper consciousness. The heart is the inner side of self and  Truth at its most authentic.   Everything you need to learn, to do, to be to "Live Your Best Life Now" comes from the inner side of self because it's your