The fog lifts, a breeze bends the long grasses, and this western dirt is summer dry. Another stay at home corona virus order presses down on activities of distraction. Anxiety passes through like a south wind on the way to the ocean. There is a resurgence of “hysterical intolerance,” says the woman with 6 names. May all be safe. May all be well. Om Tat Sat.
Category: The Spiritual Journey
“I will not be afraid to enjoy
what is beautiful, and to believe that
as I give to the world, so the world
will give to me.”—Unknown
I look at these Zinnias feeling grateful and heartened. In spite of a recent surge of national hatred, bigotry, cruelty and selfishness, this bouquet reminds me how important it is to keep cherishing that which affirms, that which gives generously and that which spreads goodwill and joy. I smiled when these flowers greeted me as I arrived to teach a yoga class, and I am smiling now.
Recently, I have been ruminating on the value of different kinds of community. The first six years of my life were spent in the midst of my maternal East Prussian grandparents’ large Seventh Day Adventist family—one of the lesser known religions targeted by Gestapo. There were 8 children, my mother the oldest, and I was the only grandchild at that time. In spite of grace and the gift of co-operation that helped most of the family to survive both the Hitler and Stalin regimes, family connections were torn apart in many different ways as each member, more or less, found his or her own healing path.
As displaced Europeans, my parents and I left the community of our extended families on both sides and moved to the USA. In my early immigrant years—as an only child separated from the protective sense of a larger group— I felt isolated in my efforts to learn a new language and culture. Much later, after meeting Sri Swami Satchidananda Yogiraj, the community atmosphere and enthusiastic co-operation of a spiritual family that he encouraged was extremely rejuvenating and strengthening for me.
I eventually learned, however, that a community, if it is to be fully viable, also needs to acknowledge disparate elements. Humans are seldom in complete agreement with each other, and that is not even desirable. Open minded, honest discourse increases a community’s capacity for growth.
Today, at the border of a 1960s California housing development and a Wild West nature habitat, we have been observing a group of visiting quail. They remind me of a well functioning community. This morning, I had thrown out some sunflower seeds; yet, the quail remain peaceful, without getting in each others’ way. They exhibited a natural restraint as well as co-operation. I enjoy watching them, especially during these current times when there seems to be a pervasive atmosphere of national anxiety.
And so the quail inspire me to practice a loving kindness meditation: “May I forgive all who have harmed me. May I be forgiven for any harm I may have caused to others. May I be peaceful. May I be happy. May I have ease of body and mind. May all sentient beings be peaceful. May all be happy. May all have physical and mental ease.”
—Om Tat Sat.
Gudrun Mouw is the author of From Ashes Into Light which won the 2017 Living Now Award for Inspirational Fiction as well as 6 other awards. Find out more here.
There are times when things just don’t feel right—perhaps a friend, or family member is ill, or troubled in some way. There may be health issues, grief issues, work issues. Sometimes, even the weather will, unexpectedly, get dangerous. Because of adversities, which are out of our control, we may fall behind unable to do those normal, ordinary tasks that help us feel aligned with the world.
Even after dealing appropriately with crisis situations, it may be difficult to commit to the very activities that bring us back to a sense of peace, such as taking time out from stress and the aftermath of stress by getting away from a difficult environment, taking a walk, listening to music, talking to a friend, meditating, practicing yoga, reading a book, or whatever else works for us. Instead, one may sink into paralysis. Such paralysis can create a kind of unconscious self fulfilling prophesy that says how can we relax, or engage in the things that may or may not be helpful, because there is too much left undone.
However, such are exactly the times when we need to give ourselves permission to do whatever it takes to rejuvenate. Then, we can honestly acknowledge and, ultimately, relieve the stress that adversity brings about.
Gudrun Mouw (c)
May 21, 2018
More than a few times over the years, yoga students have asked me: How do I bring compassion to myself? I’ve not heard this lately, however. Is it because the answer to the question seems too far out of reach?
Yet, bringing compassion to our own process may be more important than ever; it’s not about being overly optimistic but about realizing the effort is essential. When isn’t it relevant to protect the heart from shrinking into disappointment, frustration, anger, or worse?
There is a time to stand up, of course, to be firm against wrongdoing, and there’s also a time to be still, to seek advice from our own intuition or from respected others. When I observe how how our local deer slip from human dangers of the valley into mountain lion forest territory with a total and alert simplicity, I begin to understand the broad scope of what compassion requires of us.
Compassion comes naturally out of a commitment to something beyond our questioning concerns–by learning to listen and to be fully present. Compassion, in it’s essence, is the action of experiencing a neutral connection to all that exists within and without.
Compassion is not cynical or fearful. Compassion sometimes feels raw, because it also connects us to unknown results and consequences. The personal investigation of when to stretch, when to release, when to stop and when to embrace life beyond the constraints of ego is, surely, a worthwhile practice.
Gudrun Mouw (c)
Sept. 15, 2017
The Meditation Group
Eight of us sit, a small group in the heat.
We practice cooling breaths, sip ice water
before silence begins, before a rotating fan reaches
skin. That vast field of the mind stretches at warp speed
through oak after oak, and overheated birds begin
to sing, joining a chant to protect the planet
and bring the forest back to life.
Gudrun Mouw (c)