Walking meditation practice has been an important helpmate for a while now. It teaches me to be present with every step, to experience the movement of body, mind and breath. I learn about being attentive in the midst of sight and sound and uneven surfaces underfoot. Resting afterwards, I appreciate the wonderful gift of respite.
I have recently finished reading, The Way of Silence: The Prose and Poetry of Basho by Richard Lewis, a book given to me by one of my yoga students. Basho was a seventeen century Japanese haiku master.
What seems timely for me, at this time, is that he embarked on a solitary journey, gradually withdrawing from the world as personified in the final observation of this book: ….”it has been customary to leave behind a death poem….But every moment of life is the last….”
This reminds me of the yogic teachings that every breath is both a birth and a death—a beginning and an end. That is something to contemplate during this dangerous Covid pandemic era. I ask myself: Is it not crucial to value the present moment, however it appears and however difficult that might be?
March 14, 2021
Gudrun Mouw (c)
Once again, I read: “Awakening is a shift in consciousness in which thinking and awareness separate.” —Eckhart Tolle
I still remember a moment, at the age of ten, when my non-thinking mind slid into a barrage of unhelpful mental patterns. It was an eye opener for me, in my late twenties, to come to an understanding that awareness does not rely on thinking.
This first happened at a silent yoga retreat after a powerful chanting session which triggered an inner landscape which was shockingly clear, fresh and creative. After the retreat, however, it was difficulty to deal with the habitual energy of a thinking mind when it returned, since that state the Buddhists call “emptiness” was still unfamiliar at the time.
I have come to think the solution is not to disparage the thinking mind but celebrate it’s useful aspects and at the same time to develop the skill of being able to enjoy the benefits of suspended thinking. To do that, it helps to bring attention to the natural breathing process, for example, and/or to practice deep relaxation. Also, the long term practice of meditation was fundamental to my learning to separate thinking from awareness.
Gudrun Mouw (c)
October 22, 2020
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
When I am liberated by silence…
My whole life becomes a prayer.
I still see that light shining around
any object; and I still feel that current,
sometimes so strong I may not
have feet on the ground.
And that space inside grows larger,
like a scary no beginning, no end;
vibrating, vibrating until the silence
is no longer silent.
Gudrun Mouw (c)
July 4, 2017
From Ashes Into Light, Gudrun Mouw’s debut novel, just won two awards in the same week! In the 2016 Best Book Awards From Ashes Into Light placed as a finalist in two categories: Fiction: New Age and Fiction: Visionary. In the 5th Annual Beverly Hills Book Awards Ashes won in the same two categories. In fact if you take the win in each category as a separate award, From Ashes Into Light has won four awards, placed as a finalist in two awards, and received the silver award in another. Phew, seven awards altogether! The author asked me to guest write this post because she was just speechless with the acknowledgment.
However, winning awards doesn’t always translate into becoming popular. It’s challenging being an author in a genre that is possibly not well understood. Visionary Fiction and New Age Fiction actually have a wide range of titles that qualify in each genre. So you can get a zombie fantasy as well as literary fiction in both categories.
For From Ashes Into Light, I’ll try to keep it as simple as possible. From Ashes Into Light is literary fiction with spiritual, new age (ie. the character believes in reincarnation) and visionary (consciousness-oriented) elements. It’s not exactly mainstream. But anyone interested in Buddhist teachings or spirituality in general should appreciate this well-crafted book.
In fact, the more people find out about these genres the better. Because picture this, you love books about the Dali Lama or this or that Rinpoche, and you love certain self-help books, but you’ve never tried reading fiction that’s spiritual. Now there are many, many options to combine entertainment and spiritual endeavors. Besides From Ashes Into Light by Gudrun Mouw, I have read a handful of spiritual fiction that I would recommend.
The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk
Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
The Moon Under Her Feet by Clysta Kinstler
Each of these titles explores spirituality in a alternative, entertaining way. And as I immersed myself in these titles, I found myself open to new possibilities in myself, and sometimes feeling a closer connection to the Divine. Give them a try!
Gudrun Mouw should be back to posting her blog sometime in the next two weeks. Stay Tuned. To purchase From Ashes Into Light, go to an online seller, your bookstore to order, or you can call the distributor directly (800-888-4741) to order a copy in paperback or hardcover.
Erika Lunder, publisher