Tag: Jack Kornfield

After a recent and powerful storm, an exotic bird arrived at our back door slider. It was beautiful with a bluish-grey neck, white and tan body the size of a juvenile wild turkey and a delicate feather crown on its head. It exhibited signs of trauma with flickering-eye expressions and nervous pacing.

For days, the bird hung around. It jumped up our recycle bins to look in our kitchen window. We fed it, concerned it would starve to death, because it was not engaged in food searching behavior. It also didn’t show much interest in our offerings.The bird did not exhibit any physical injuries. At some point, we had to give it tough love, put chicken screen around to protect our entrance from poop, and to keep the bird from damaging the glass door.

bluefeatherstripReturning from a hike I saw the bird obsessively walking back and forth again; I noticed it seemed to recognize its own image in the glass. Ah, I thought, it sees a fellow bird not understanding the concept of reflection. Later that day, on the meditation path, I saw evidence of a coyote kill. The remnants had the same coloration as our distraught visitor.

Sorrow hit my heart. The bird was in mourning for its companion, I decided. We wondered how to help it survive, recognizing the bird’s current behavior would be life threatening if it did not leave the place where another of its kind had been killed. We hung up a sheet in front of the sliding glass door. The reflection was gone and so was the visitor pacing at our door.

T., at some point, saw the bird was more relaxed, and we hoped, perhaps, it was ready to move on. The next morning, the bird was nowhere to be seen.

We wished him/her well. It was not in our hands, ultimately, what was to come. At least, we were no longer responsible for the false perception created by our door; but I asked myself, how does one handle suffering of the other?

The same way, I think, we handle our own suffering–recognize, acknowledge, feel it, and then, look for ways to embrace the best possible solution. Furthermore, the yogi seeks to understand how what we perceive is no more real than our reflection in a mirror. Also, perceptions, my teacher would often tell me, are not accurate if the mirror of the mind is distorted.

Days later, I found, on an off-the-trail site, the same kind of remains I had seen on the meditation path. Heartbroken, I remembered a quote from Jack Kornfield: “Our hearts are meant to be broken,” and the memory of these words helped me understand. In his recent Super Soul Sunday conversation with Oprah, Jack spoke about how compassion sometimes comes through the tears we carry, and we need to honor that.

Personal Updates


After my first public reading from Wife of the House, someone said, “I felt so present during the reading. I went into an altered state.” That’s what it’s all about, I thought, remembering from my literary studies how poems are best when they “poke holes in consciousness.”momblog

Before I read the poem, “Dream,” I said that it was about the nature of what I had heard the Buddhist meditation teacher, Jack Kornfield, call “the wanting mind.” The poem begins:

I wanted to ride the elephant
but got the camel instead…

The audience laughed, because we recognized how the wanting mind can place us in hilarious predicaments if we let it.

I also read, “Paradise Canyon” which begins:

Wind for weeks you’ve had your way
with air you won’t bed down
and be satisfied…

We also know that aversion such as the hatred of wind can function as a friction to bring us higher lessons. It felt meaningful to share those moments (when poems poked holes in my consciousness) with a larger audience at the book release reading. It is healing when we honor our common humanity with laughter and also with tears:

…he switches on the light
he returns to the center
of loneliness
holding the dark
at four corners.

from “At My Window”

After the reading, I woke up at 1:00 am. It was my birthday. I woke up to a poem. I was tired and yearned to go back to sleep, but I could not for 3 hours because the poem seemed to need to make sure it made a strong enough imprint so I would not forget. So, eventually, I went into a quiet, deep relaxation practice that my students do at the end of yoga classes, and the poem remembered itself with ease.

Birth-Day After the Age of Reason


I think I may be
falling apart.
Is that a problem?

The mind goes quiet,
the body still.

Hurrah!
I am the stars,
and the stars are me.

 

Gudrun

The Process of Writing

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