Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Monday, June 20, 2011
Salvation: Scenes from the Life of St. Francis. He is believed to have studied with the Troubadours (a composer and performer of Occitan lyric poetry in the High Middle Ages.) Saint Francis loved to sing and it is fitting that one of the most famous images of the monk is a scene of the Preaching to the Birds. In musical terms the prayer might ask for harmony where one finds dissonance. This might be the answer to a complex issue, that of, how can we as individuals bring harmony to a world filled with chaos, cruelty and abuse? I cannot end world hunger, stop wars, or cure disease. It is hard for me to hold my temper during high volume traffic let alone bring peace to warn torn countries. Maybe the answer is to add a little music to one's life, a little harmony, something to uplift the spirit. Certain studies have shown that certain types of music actually alter the cells in our bodies, making them healthier, music such as Pachelbel Canon in D for instance. Stop, breathe, listen, and bring harmony where there has been discord, just for today, just for you.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Easier said than done. Hatred seems a strong word; irritation, dislike, animosity, loathing, disgust and abhorrence are the synonyms though, and I can see myself indulging in any one of those. St. Francis held a high standard, but it came a sense of peace that those around him felt. I ask myself: am I a maniac when I try to drive through town in the middle of the high season? Just how loving am I toward those with NY or NJ plates, driving slowly as I, the most important person in the Universe, am trying to get to Dunkin before my caffeine high wears off? That is why this prayer is an ideal, with values that we can work toward with practice. We have very few role models for this spiritual practice, Mother Theresa, Jesus, the Dalai Lama to name a few. Many times in our culture, hatred is glorified, patriotic. I was abhorred (yes, not exactly a loving emotion) when my fellow citizens cheered the death of Osama Bin Laden. Now I know the guy isn't the most loving himself, he was brutal, a murderer. But reveling in his death brought us as a nation down to his depth. We were imitating him. We were him, with our hatred in tact, flaunting it as we cheered. Jimi Hendrix said, "When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace." When I am sitting in traffic, powerless over movement, when I read about people who have raped or killed, I am powerless. But the hatred becomes a power to be reckoned with. It takes my body and stuffs me down, until it has a life of its own. If I choose to love the person, rather than the act, I stand a chance of not becoming a victim of my own anger. Saint Francis set the bar high. Maybe I will start with the next out of state license plate and try to practice compassion there. I can move on to bigger things once I have mastered that difficult. task.
Monday, June 13, 2011
What does it mean to become a channel of peace? It sounds as if it could be a wee bit new ageish. I think, writing in the 13th century however, Saint Francis wasn't going for the psychic medium angle. In order to become a channel one must first clear away the debris, the violent thoughts and actions that clutter my day, in order to allow a sense of peace to enter. I am proud to say that I don't watch the news or read papers online or in print. I am not aware of much of the violence that pervades the world these days. That might be and has been considered to be ignorant and selfish on my part, but I know that I need to stay within my community, help those in need in my area. The world is a huge place and our primate brains might not be ready to know all that happens on the planet. We were meant, during cave person days, to tend to our villages. cave girls did not surf the web and look at pictures of bombed areas. There is so much information, messages and media bombarding the human psyche today. I wonder if the increase in addictions might stem from the fact that our bodies just cannot handle all of this information? I digress. Our little area was hit by major storms this past week, trees down all over the place, and a little tornado had touched down in a neighboring town. Clean up crews have been working over the last week to clear the wreckage. Fast forward to last night. I was on the couch as my boyfriend's daughter watched a movie, the earth was dying, tornadoes, ice, screaming, noise, and death. My senses were overloaded. I know it is a movie, but I was aware of my body's reaction to the stimuli. "Make me a channel of thy peace." Not while watching that movie, or reading the newspaper, or discussing politics or religion with others. Today I am making a pact with myself. I want to experience peace and I know that in order to do so I must take my news diet a little farther. I need to ignore political messages on Facebook. Even when I am joking I get pulled into an argument where I want to be right. My irritation spikes and I am not peaceful. I turn into a lunatic bitch. Well maybe not that bad, but I don't like myself when I get into the fight. For today I will pay attention to my local politics, I will meditate and pray for peace, and I will abstain from negative media. I will in hopes of becoming a channel of peace. Or at least a commercial break.
Friday, June 10, 2011
- Lord, make me a channel of thy peace;
- that where there is hatred, I may bring love;
- that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness;
- that where there is discord, I may bring harmony;
- that where there is error, I may bring truth;
- that where there is doubt, I may bring faith;
- that where there is despair, I may bring hope;
- that where there are shadows, I may bring light;
- that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.
- Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted;
- to understand, than to be understood;
- to love, than to be loved.
- For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.
- It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
- It is by dying that one awakens to eternal life.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
I gave myself a gift the other day and went to Kripalu Yoga Center for their Retreat and Renewal Program. One day, one luxurious stress-free day filled with healthy vegetarian food, yoga, meditation and writing. As I sat writing in the sun room overlooking the Berkshire Hills and Stockbridge Bowl, I realized that although I have regular contact with my Creator, taking time to pray everyday, I really only allow myself the bare minimum of what God can offer. A sort of spiritual anorexia, so to speak. I had been starving my soul of much needed quiet reflection, and had been starving my creative self of the tactile experience of writing on paper, notebook and pen meeting in the quiet, the room devoid of the click of computer keys and the jumble of icons and excess stuff.
My life has become crowded with stuff, an inbox filled with old emails, dog hair, empty soda bottles, books, and files, just stuff that lurks in the background, creating noise. Rarely have I time to meditate, to absorb the quiet and the emptiness which is really where I find my God. So I took my first Vinyasa yoga class in over two years and felt my muscles burn and my body sweat. I sat in the dining room alone and ate my food without conversation. My body was starving and I inhaled the rhythmic pattern of my footsteps as I walked the labyrinth. On this flower - lined path I turned within, the way twisting and turning. Just when you think you are close to the center a twist in the path leads to to the outside, seemingly losing ground, but closer to the center with every step. Once you have arrived it is easier to find the way back to the beginning, one is no longer advancing to get someplace, one is just walking. Experience is a teacher in the labyrinth.
I finished the day with a gentle yoga class, feeling all aches and pains I had been ignoring for the last few years. I allowed myself to feel compassion for a body that wasn't as limber as a few years before, that held large amounts of stress and anxiety deep within the tissue, a body that really wanted to be pushing for the moderate class and elevated heart rate, a body that just really needed noise to hide what was. The present is always the hardest place to be. I think that is why I fill my life with noise, with clutter, chemicals and with technology. Being connected to Source brings peace. I need to feed my anorexic soul, not by binging, but by gently adding a few nurturing practices to my day. Unemployment is a perfect time to begin. I could pick up my old practice of morning journaling as I listen to the songbird symphony outside my window. I might allow myself the gift of a weekly yoga class. I could spend brief moments throughout the day finding silence and listening. I can feed myself and let it be ok. I'll let you know how it goes, my email is calling me!