Thursday, December 31, 2009

Quietly, Heart to Heart

There is a lovely practice in the Buddhist tradition called Metta. It is a meditation practice of a lifetime. Whole retreats are built around it. Basically, one offers best wishes in the form of a few phrases to oneself, to someone you love, to someone you feel neutral towards, to a difficult person, and to everyone everywhere. The phrases vary but could be something like...

May you be filled with compassion

May you be well

Maybe you be peaceful and at ease

Maybe you be happy in this life just as it is.

I'd like to offer a "take anywhere" version of this practice. I sometimes this use this practice after I turn out the light and get ready for sleep, or at the end of my meditation practice, before I move into the rest of my day.

I take an in-breath and who ever appears in my mind's eye (no editing) gets a wish for well being on the exhale. I usually shorten the phrase to "May you be at peace" but you can choose whatever you like. Next inhale, next person that arises. The same person may come up multiple times, you may come up yourself. Inhale, let the person arise, exhale, offer your wishes.
Try it for a minute, for 5 minutes, whatever time you have. The practice is ultimately an offering to your own true heart. As the old year rolls over into the new...may we cultivate compassion together, may we be well, may we be peaceful and at ease, and may we recognize the seeds of happiness in this life just as it is.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I'm just looking

Years ago I used to work for the National Audubon Society. I was out one day near Lake Erie birdwatching with some experienced "birders". This very patient gentleman was trying to point out a warbler (of some sort...they sort of all looked the same to me) in the bushes. I'm not that great with binoculars and the bird seemed to be the same color as all the leaves around it but I was really trying to see this bird . It seemed pretty hopeless and I felt like maybe it was time to just move I lied. I told him I saw it. I didn't see that bird that day...but I did see many others and it beat being in the office. By the end of the long day I just wanted to go home and I thought I'd jump out of my skin if we had to stop one more time on the way home to search out yet another bird species.

I love birds. I've learned to look for them in my own way. I don't travel far and wide to search them out. I can only name a couple of birds by their call. But they add to my life immensely. I can't tell you how lovely it is to hear the call of the first Red-winged Blackbird...the herald of spring for me. Or to see the bright red feathers of a male Cardinal against the intense white of the snow in winter.
As a teacher and lover of yoga, I think it must be like this for the people who come to my class sometimes. Me...trying to point out some seemingly obscure but, I think, beautiful thing about the practice. You...trying valiently to see, hear, feel, what I'm saying...but wishing I'd move on. I know that everyone finds something in their practice each time they come to the mat. It might not be what I'm pointing to...and really...that's okay. I'm just hoping to infuse you with some of the love I have for the practice. Learning to see, hear, and feel, you find that the practice meets you where you are. You may find something lovely about a favorite yoga posture or the coziness of a few minutes of meditation...and you may also have those fleeting views of something rare and beautiful.

When it comes right down to it...We're all here trying to see through the leaves. It's all worth seeing...the birds, the leaves, the frustration, the joy, the people you are with, the feel of the day...all of it. Heading off to my yoga mat now to see what I can see.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

An affirmation...

"I have a healthy appetite for the small and large adventures of life. I digest the challenges with great pleasure and joy."

I came across this affirmation this morning. I'm usually not an "affirmation" kind of person. Maybe it's because of a misunderstanding on my part. Affirmations have seemed to me to be sort of wishful thinking. If I just say this enough, it will be true. But a dictionary definition of "affirmation" I looked up said "something that is affirmed: a statement or propostion that is declared to be true".

"I have a healthy appetite for the small and large adventures of life. I digest the challenges with great pleasure and joy".

Today, in this moment, I declare this to be true. And in this moment, that is be filled with great pleasure and this moment...and to taste it fully...just this all its "enoughness".