Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground. - Rumi

Friday, August 31, 2012

Writing is good for the soul – journaling as a tool


...the details of our days do make a difference in our lives...no experience is ever just for drill...everything can be a springboard for inspiration if we are willing to be open to the goodness of life. - Sara Ban Breathnach

Recently I was talking with a friend and the topic came up about feeling frustrated about life and not having an outlet to express it.
I suggested writing a journal, painting or drawing. I think these modes of expression can have a way of calming the mind, relaxing and shifting one’s energy.  It does for me.  I find writing self-healing.
Putting pencil or pen to paper and letting all thoughts in our head escape creates a space for solutions: just reflecting on the words written down gives a moment’s pause to think about what we are dealing with or not dealing with.  It can give a perspective; distance us a little from the situation. And if we are lucky we can find a solution or two.
For me, there is something cathartic about writing.  I love the way words come out on paper.  The words have a magic I have created by choosing how I place them.
Words are powerful, they create images, tell stories, express a feeling, thought, emotion.
Words choose how one relates an experience. What is the tone of the words: are they happy, sad, angry, frustrated, clear, unclear…..
When I go back and read some of what I have written sometimes I remember what I was talking about, sometimes it takes me a few minutes to remember what was happening.
When my son’s were little I started journals for them.  I would write about what was happening at the age they each were at.  Those are my favorite journals.  For a while I did really well, but then life just got too busy.  Now I periodically update them.  I hope when they are grown men they will enjoy having my memories of their childhood.
Now I write from a biographical point of view: what is happening in my life and how I feel about it, more of a chronicle of my journey.
I have developed this habit of writing: what’s happening in my life, to do lists, mantras to get me through: for today, tomorrow, the rest of my life, writing it down empties a space in my head to think up more things.

farmer's market flowers

Sunday, August 26, 2012

You There... What have the years written into your body?

You There…

Put the palms of your hands together
fimo heart composition
close to your body, thumbs touching your chest
then bow your head to the tree
whose body bears these words.

In the deep pool under the cedar
a trout rises to a mayfly and ripples spread
in widening O’s like the years
etched into heartwood grows.

What have the years written into your body?
what pattern emerged as you passed through fire?
put your palms together, lifeline to lifeline.
bow your head for the history you bear.

-       Judith Barrington

I found this poem in a yoga magazine.  I love the words.  I love the last section with the question of What have the years written into your body?

I ask myself that question: What has been written into my body? Sometimes I look searchingly in the mirror, gazing at my legs, my hips, my breasts.  I catch my reflection in a glass window and look at my form.  Knowledge and creativity have been written in invisible ink from one hip to another.  Sanskirt words remind me to honor the circle of my family. The chinese symbol Grace reminds me to be calm under pressure, keep my composure. 

My hands bear witness to the experiences I have had:  caring for a baby, caressing new life, changing diapers, cleaning up throw-up, holding a hand, hugging my child, children, touching a friend who is in a sorrowful place, holding paint brushes to express myself visually, squishing clay to get the air bubbles out. My hands bear witness to the love in my life. my hands bear witness to healing. 

My face bears witness to wisdom gained from living life.  The path has not always been straight, I have taken roads less traveled and been in unsavory places, adding to my field of knowledge.  I know enough about life to know that life is what we chose to make of it and kindness can move what nothing else can. My face bears witness to being a survivor.

I bow my head in gratitude that I can write these words.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Equanimity, Joy, Love, Compassion

4 Treasures
watercolor on watercolor paper

One of my favorite words as a teacher is equanimity.
To me it means is treating each child the same.  What I do for one, I do for all.  Give the same level of care, giving, understanding and compassion.
Many years ago, as an end of the year gift a family gave me a bracelet from Me and Ro with these Tibetan symbols on it.  This bracelet is one of the most amazing beautiful gifts I have ever been given.  The symbolism of this gift coming from a family whose child I taught touches me deeply.  The words on the beads are love, compassion, joy and equanimity in Tibetan.  WOW!! 
As a teacher how important are these words.

I think about these words and what the actions of these words imply.
I felt like receiving this gift was a message from the universe about my path in life.  It was telling me how I should be with children: the importance of creating a safe place for children to be and grow, it re-enforced how I strive to be with children – neutral, gentle, observant and a listener.  It doesn’t matter the age of the child.

Sometimes I think I take myself too seriously, but then I think I am affecting someone’s life. I am giving them permission to be themselves or I am causing them to shrink inside.  I am giving a child permission to safely explore the world or I am saying the world is not safe, don’t explore.  I am giving a child permission to express who he or she is right here and now or I am saying it isn’t important for you to share who you are.
 In my world I always choose to say YES:  explore, express be yourself to the children and adults I encounter on my path.
It isn’t always easy, I make it sound easy, it isn’t, but isn’t it great to be up to a challenge.  Challenges help us grow.

The four immeasurables:

May all sentient beings have happiness and its causes,
May all sentient beings be free of suffering and its causes,
May all sentient beings never be separated from bliss without suffering,
May all sentient beings be in equanimity, free of bias, attachment and anger.  From brahma viharas ( a buddhist quote)