Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hope & Anchor

After landing at LaGuardia last night, I got in a cab and rode to a diner where my best friend works. I couldn't help but notice the place is called Hope & Anchor.

Hope: "...looking forward to something with desire and reasonable confidence."

Anchor: "...a device that is used to connect a vessel to the bed of a body of water to prevent the vessel from drifting..."

Sounds like a good idea.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Dear Kirby-

A symptom I experienced on the silent retreat I went on was feeling a little humor deprived. Every time one of the teachers told a story or shared an anecdote that I thought was funny, I loved it to the point of obsession. To this day, I remember stories and punchlines from the week and still have no perspective on whether or not they are worth sharing.

One day on the retreat, Grove, shared a comic with us. Ever since I got back and can use the internet whenever I want, I have spent a great deal of time searching for this comic, certain it was one of the most profound witticisms I had yet encountered. I've looked, I've enlisted a friend to look, and I've emailed Grove, asking him to please tell me the author and title of comic. His communication on this EXTREMELY important topic has been spotty at best, and I finally decided to let this little comic-finding project go. Wouldn't you know that just when I had let it go, an envelope arrived in the MAIL with a copy of the cartoon inside.

The words read: "Dear Kirby- After all these years of meditation, and in spite of your endless ridicule, I have finally reached 'universal consciousness.' I have transcended to a higher plane. I am everywhere and nowhere, non-existent and eternal, all seeing and all-knowing. You, on the other hand, can go suck an egg."

Yep, I can't remember exactly what it was about this that hit my funny bone so hard in the midst of all that silence.

The other day, I was talking with a friend of mine who used to eat a vegan diet and was thinking about going back to it. She told me back when she was vegan, so were all of her friends, and there was a lot of ego around it for them. They liked to go to restaurants and announce it, make their friends who weren't vegan feel bad about it, that sort of thing. I handed her my favorite book on the subject, Yoga and Vegetarianism. "Personally, I kinda like to keep it to myself," I said, "And if the subject comes up the last thing I want to do is make anyone feel uncomfortable." I do it because I believe it will help me find "a state in which separateness of self and other dissolves in the realization of oneness of being," because I believe "otherness is the main obstacle to enlightenment." Long story short, you won't find me telling any Kirbys to go suck an egg.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

"Don't Expect Applause-Tibetan Buddist Maxim"

 by: Ellen Bass

And yet, wouldn't it be welcome
At the end of each ordinary day?
The audience could be small,
The theater modest. Folding chairs
In a church basement would do.
Just a short earnest burst of applause
That you got up that morning
And, one way or another
Made it through the day.

You soaped up in the steaming
Shower, drank your Starbucks
In the car, and let the guy with the
Windex wipe your windshield
During the long red light at Broad Street.
Or maybe you were that guy,
Not daring to light up
While you stood there because
Everyone's so down on smoke these days.

Or you kissed your wife
As she hurried out the door, even though
You were pretty sure she was
meeting her lover at the Flamingo Motel,
Even though you wanted to grab her
By a hank of her sleek hair.
Maybe your son's in jail.
Your daughter's stopped eating.
And your husband's still dead
this morning, just like he was
yesterday and the day before that.
And yet you put on your shoes
And take a walk, and when a neighbor
says Good Morning, you say
Good Morning, back.

Would a round of applause be amiss?
Even if you weren't good.
Even if you yelled at your kid,
Poisoned the ants, drank too much
And said that really stupid thing
You promised yourself you wouldn't say.
Even if you don't deserve it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Not to quote myself quoting the Tao de Ching, but there really is a time and a place for everything. Today, one of my dear friends told me she experienced every emotion in existence (with the exception of wrath) before noon. I congratulated her. "Way to go being in step with the universe!" I said. Since tomorrow's the longest day of the year, things seem to feel FULL. I know they do for me. I'm still working on feeling my feelings. On noticing them, making space for them and investigating them. It's easy to globalize: "I'm cold," when actually just my feet are cold and they feel not so much cold, as pins-and-needlesly. Or: "I'm sad," when actually there's just a kinda tight, or maybe a dry void type of non-thing in my throat and tears are falling out of my eyes. As some lady in a pop song once said, "Feel it all."

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Once upon a time, I asked a group of students in my yoga class to pretend to be Pisces just for the 30 seconds it took me to read them "their" horoscope. Let's play that game again, go!

"The coming week will be an excellent time to declare your independence from anything that depresses you, obsesses you, or oppresses you. You will attract help from unexpected sources if you take that brave action. At the same time, it'll be a perfect moment to declare your interdependence with anything that fires up your imagination, stirs up smart hope, or fills you with a desire to create masterpieces. Be adventurous as you dream about blending your energies with the very best influences." -Free Will Astrology

These are simple and powerful ideas. A few months back, I was feeling tired of a negative thought that runs on repeat in my brain so I put on a wish bracelet. Thanks to my pretty little orange bracelet, I'm more aware every time that unhelpful thought shows up. I look at my left wrist, and I replace the negative thought with a positive one.

One of the practices I married in the name of masterpieces is good rest. This is what works for me. "Don't let yesterday use up too much of today," is a quote I like that is sometimes attributed to Will Rogers and sometimes is said to be a Native American proverb. If you really are a Pisces, or you're still pretending to be one, feel free to let that go now, unless of course, it helps you get to some truth.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"It's All About Me"

In my mother's house there's a framed photograph that was taken during a rafting trip about 12 years ago. In the photo is me, orange hair, orange life-vest, yellow sunglasses and an open mouth, it appears as though I'm asking for something, or perhaps, complaining. The frame the photo has around it is silver with orange writing on it, that says, "It's all about me."  The photo might be amusing on its own but in that frame, it's funny and my mom loves it. My mom likes to make fun of me sometimes, when I want something or don't like a particular restaurant, in her pretending-she's-me voice, she'll say, "It's all about me." Which of course, sometimes, it is.

I had many "it's all about me" moments on my meditation retreat a few weeks ago. At the time, I was having some digestive difficulties and the cook, Derek, caught on somehow that I wasn't eating much. He took me aside (fun fact: on silent retreats, there is talking, not often, but sometimes) and asked me if I was getting enough to eat. I thanked him so much for his concern and told him I was fine, just some digestive troubles, not to worry about me, and I was sorry I didn't feel like eating more of his cooking. He informed me what I needed was miso soup, lots of it. At the next six or seven meals, there was miso soup, it was delicious and didn't particularity heal my physical complaint. Sometimes I ate it, sometimes I didn't. No one else ever seemed to touch it.

Another fun fact about the meditation retreat is everybody had a yogi job. MY GOD was that fun, it felt so good to be able to DO something. My job was to help clean up after breakfast, I loved every minute of it. My companion in breakfast put-away was a lovely woman who I knew nothing about. On the third or fourth day of putting away vast amounts of leftover miso, she broke her silence to say, "Someone should tell Derek to stop making miso. Nobody's eating it." "OH THANK GOD," I thought, "I can TALK to someone about it." The miso situation had really started to stress me out. "I know," I whispered, "maybe I should write him a note, (at silent retreats, you can also, if you really need to, write notes) he's making it for me. He said it would help with some digestive issues I've been having, but it's not helping, so I'm not eating it. I wish he would stop making it. I hope he's not mad I'm not eating it." "Oh that's sweet," she said, and our conversation ended. I hadn't meant to blather on, and suddenly I was anxious about having talked too much. The next day, Derek found me in the kitchen and asked how I was feeling. That day I was feeling better and I told him. I said he could also stop making the miso, if he wanted. He then told me miso's kind of his thing, that it's at every meal, and it always has been. Oh for the love of everything! That whole time, it wasn't all about me! This guy's been making miso probably since before I was born! "My mom's really onto something with that picture frame," was my next thought but I was deeply relieved.

Anam Thubten says, "The Buddhist message is very clear: it's to come to this radical realization that your life is not about you. Instead, it's about others, it's about your relatives, your friends, your enemies, it's about humanity." I love this because I can feel it. My teacher Peter would say in the "It's all about me" paradigm, the question is, "How am I doing?" which is often stressful: "I have digestive issues," "I have credit card debt," or "I didn't get enough sleep last night," "My heart is broken." In the "My life is about others" paradigm, the question is, "How can I help?" Incidentally, the answer to "How can I help?" is an action. As I mentioned, one thing sitting still for a week taught me is how good it feels to be able to DO something.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Maybe The Other Moths

One of my main gigs these days is catching and releasing live moths from my apartment. Although this may not sound like the most romantic way to pass time, the great Sufi poet Rabia says, "The Moon Was Once A Moth." Turns out there are approximately 160,000 different species of moths, so who am I not to free them? Now that we've got the whole moon thing covered, maybe the other moths become stars.

The Moon Was Once a Moth
by Rabia

The moon was once a moth who ran to her lover, they embraced, and she ultimately passed away with such a smile everywhere on her body.
Over a period of time, her wings fell to the earth and sanctified the meadows. Angels came and buried the limbs that touched His mouth.
The moon was once a moth who ran to God, they entwined. Now, just her luminous soul remains and we gaze at it at night.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Holy Care Package Batman

Boy-oh-boy am I inspired by a totally-out-of-the blue-care-package I received all the way from Vancouver today for no reason at all. The honest-to-goodness math is: Care Packages=Love Calls Squared. This stuff isn't just math either it's LAW. Deepak Chopra sets it straight in his book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, he calls it "The Law of Giving and Receiving," it's about staying in the flow of abundance and stuff. I received a new wallet in the mail today so I gave my old wallet to someone else and now they have a new wallet. Karma Yoga talks about giving with out any attachment to an outcome; not needing a "thank you" for the gift you gave. Incidentally, there's a grace to receiving as well. Saying thank you for a compliment, thank you for a service (even if you're paying for it) and as a prayer every ding-dong-day of your life.

I dig what Ghandi says about the whole exchange; it speaks to both sides of the coin: “The fragrance always remains on the hand that gives the rose."