Sunday, October 30, 2011

Practice 2

Breathing in big, tall trees.

I breath in the smell of the wet ground, the trees, leaves fallen from the trees, and I grow taller.

I breath out the city, people, work, and I grow deeper.

I breath in and my heart expands.

I breath out and the weight around it disappears.

The rain runs down my nose. It covers my glasses in raindrops.

I can't see with them, and without them the forest is an impressionist painting.

Without my glasses my hike becomes a practice of feeling rather than one of seeing.

Feeling first, sight second.

So we walk - me feeling, Sappho smelling. And, I can know where she is when I feel instead of look. We are working together.

And, then there is the sense of fall in the forest - it is peaceful and calm.

Death in the forest has a softness to it and a sense of hope and promise.

The trunks of trees meet the ground like elephant feet.

So we walk.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Practice I

I've been noticing lately the moments when I have an understanding of something and then observe things that I interpret to support that understanding versus when I observe things and then reach an understanding.

I think the best example I have of this is a snowshoeing trip that Seth and I took last winter for my birthday/solstice/full moon. We rented a Forest Service Cabin for two nights - getting to the cabin required snowshoeing. The cabin a bit of a drive, and we never leave quite as early as we think we will, so when we arrived, the amount of sunlight we had left was limited. However, it didn't seem to be a problem as we only had to snowshoe three miles to the cabin. We started off and after not too long came to an intersection. We looked at the map and found the junction we thought we were at. However, the junction we were at didn't quite match the map. Never mind, we go to the right. So, up the hill we went, but after awhile, we stopped and looked at the map again - this didn't seem right. According to the map we should have been headed down a hill by now. We continued a little farther and then decided we had taken the wrong path and headed back down the hill. By this time it was getting dark, but that was okay because even with a completely overcast sky, the full moon lit up the night. We got back to our intersection, discussed the possibilities for a bit, and then headed down another path. We hiked on that one for quite a ways and then decided that a curve it took didn't seem right. Up until this point, we had resisted getting the compass out as we had packed it into the middle of one of the backpacks. However we decided it was time to get it out - and voila, it told us that the path we were on was not the right one. So, we headed up the hill we had just come down back to our original intersection. This time we used the compass at this intersection too, and only then, our third time being here, did we realize that the we were not at the intersection that we thought we were at. And, the first path that we had chosen had, in fact, been the correct path. So, back up the hill we went. When we finally arrived at the intersection that we had thought we were at before, and we were both exhausted. Seth's boots had worn all the skin off the backs of both of his heels, and, we still had a mile or so left to hike. That last stretch took us forever - we had to stop every few steps to rest. When we arrived at the cabin, I was more exhausted than I had ever been in my life. We had packed our backpacks heavy because we thought we were snowshoeing three miles maximum, and we had covered eight miles by the end of the night.

So, lately I've been noticing how this happens in other instances in my life. I come to an understanding and then observe to support that understanding.

And, I've been practicing. Practicing stilling my brain so that I can just observe, just listen. And, then, only when I have done those things allow myself to come to an understanding. Or, if I'm practicing very hard, not come to and understanding at all, but rather just stay with the observations.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A problem in translation

I rewrite the first sentence 3, 4, 5 times.

I give myself pep talks: "don't think about them, just write."

I rewrite the first sentence 6, 7, 8 times.

"Write from your heart, write what is true - don't worry."

I rewrite the first sentence 9, 10, 11 times.

"Arghhhh, what is wrong with you?"

"I don't know, close your eyes and see."

"That seems reasonable."

And, there I am sitting on the couch in front of the window flanked by mothers. I see colors; tears run down my cheeks.

I've been trying to write a scene, but the scene isn't what is in my heart. The scene dances around my heart, just like all the words do.

I've mistaken my head for my heart. Dive deeper.

Monday, September 12, 2011


"Write your self.  Your body must be heard.  Only then will the immense resources of the unconscious spring forth."  - Helene Cixous, from "Laugh of the Medusa"
I've been thinking a lot lately about silence.  What it means, why it happens.  For me, there are two main ways in which silence presents itself.  One is quite recent.  It is the moment my brain tells me fill with chatter.  Moving chairs with someone I don't know, I'm tempted to make a joke just to fill space, but I don't, I choose silence instead.

The other type of silence in my life isn't one I choose, it is one that I am trying to not choose.  Only that seems harder to relearn.  The silence that comes of me not wanting to say something that isn't quite right, that might offend, that isn't smart enough, that might be just wrong.

The choice of silence seems easier - it is an observable habit.  When I see myself about to say something I can see what it is and why and then make a choice.  Or, if I don't catch myself beforehand, I can see it while I'm saying it or afterwards and think about it.  I am learning to make silence, in those situations the default.

The same tactic does not work with not being silent because 1) it is harder to observe or notice a non-happening, and 2) it isn't a habit like chatter is, it is a way of being in the world.  It is a variation on a phrase we are all probably familiar with - "If you don't have anything "right"/perfect, to say, do, be, then don't say, do, be anything at all."

This source of this silence of word, action, and being is found deep inside my core, and it is old - I've carried it with me my whole life.  Or, rather, my whole life has come into being through it.

And, so, softly and gently, I expose it to light to see what happens. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

And sometimes life is a spiral

Today I caught a glimpse of the light inside of me - not because I was looking for it or thinking about it, but precisely because I wasn't. It happened in a moment of quiet and stillness.

And so, I circle back around to a starting point: This practice I have started is not about the production of creativity, the constant whir of my brain searching for ideas. It is about finding, every day, enough quiet and stillness so that whatever is inside of me has the space to bubble up.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A gift of song

bubbles up
timidly, softly
growing stronger, louder
the sad parts
the hurt parts
the ones you haven't seen in years
the ones you had hoped had gone away
filling them with a gift of song
displacing black clouds
to be breathed out
An invitation issued
to join the whole

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Meandering back to me

Then one day I realized that the real question is, "what does my heart say?" But in order to hear one's heart clearly, especially in the beginning, one needs quiet and stillness. So, I set off in search of quiet and stillness only to discover that it isn't enough to just visit them, you need to be able to bring them home with you. And, so began another journey.