Unbearable Compassion

So much loss, these many children gone

In an instant

An insane slaughter

Of life, love, potential.

Om Mani Padme Hum.

How to maintain love and compassion for all

This is the task before us

This is what will end wars

And usher in peace

For mankind.

Om Mani Padme Hum.

Remember why you are here

Love, serve, remember

To practice unbearable compassion

For all suffering

Even for all bad, evil, corrupt acts

It will be unbearable

Eventually after years of aching…

Om Mani Padme Hum.

After years of practicing compassion

Your heart will flow with love and light

It will be seen in your body

Shining forth love

In your voice

Soothing and grounding

In your movement

Elegant and light

In your beaming smile

Om Mani Padme Hum.

And you will embrace all of it

And soothe all of it

And deeply know all of it

You will become

Unbearable compassion for all.

Om Mani Padme Hum.

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Inhaling

I inhale

Again, again, again

Breathing and relaxing

Being with the inhale

~

When I open my eyes

The world has shifted

And changed in ways

I can’t explain.

~

Suddenly, I am more at ease

I am more myself

Lighter in body

Stronger in being

~

Now I am more present

More aware of the endless beauty

It’s all right before me

Beautiful leaves, smiling children, happy music

~

So I will come back again

And breathe slowly

Inhaling and relishing

This way to change the world.

The child’s dark room

The box shaped room, it was so dark and empty

And yet the little girl went there day after day

Into that empty cold space of nothingness

And this is where she began to pray.

~

Dear God she would mumble

Please come and be with here with me

And she would cry while waiting

Wondering what she might see.

~

She had dreams of pink fairies, sweet lemonade

Contrasting frosty grey clouds with yellow sunny days

Green forests and emerald filled oceans

Her mind would journey in so many different ways.

~

The loneliness remained in the room, pervasive and real

And the girl how she suffered, sometimes withdrew

To question her existence, the gaping abyss

A child alone, loneliness being what she knew.

~

Though this time was quite painful

Seemingly an infinity, so disturbing and long

It was needed for her growth and change

It was the secret ingredient to her emerging song.

~

Don’t give in my dear lonely and lost children

Stuck in your empty, cold dark rooms

Don’t buy into the idea of the infinity of abyss

Don’t think of this as your own tomb.

~

I promise you now, if you can breathe and still learn

To sit, to be, to have infinite trust

That this deep darkness around you will pass

And into a life of light you will be thrust.

She is out

She is kicking and screaming inside

Outside, calm, strong, and civil

She will not be held back

She has changed, she wants out

~

She screams and feels deeply

Anger welling up and up

Rising to burn and burn and burn

The fear and anxiety away, she is out

~

Scr@w this she screams

Scr@w all of this fear and anxiety

I am not doing this anymore

I am out and I am here now, clearly present

~

I will be true to my nature

And recognize my failures

Even as I move away and on

And I reach further and further

~

I will expand she screams

I will engage and move forward

I will not be brought down

Do you hear me????

~

I am here right now

Clear and open and present

I am burning bright

You will not douse me now.

~

My true nature is out.

 

A Heart

How do you fix a heart

That was broken so long ago?

It was stitched and patched back together

With silk and gossamer tears

And thin scar tissue barely threatens to hold

The broken heart halves together

~

How do you mend that hole

Where the blood and the tears mix

Together as one

Before they leak and then pour

Merging into a lake sized puddle

Spreading slowly across the floor?

~

Where do you go

To buy the proper materials

And find the best mechanic, artist, technician, or doctor

To put it all back together,

in a way that makes sense?

Please make this poor heart, so full of holes

A whole heart again

~

This heart full of holes

Releases its leaden balloons

Sending up signals

Here is anxiety

Here is pain

Here is fear

And anger comes along too

Leaden, heavy balloons

~

They are floating

Floating heavily before me

Until they slowly fall

Dragging the broken stitched up heart behind them

Into the lake puddle of blood

Leaving me wondering

What now for this empty, empty space

The remaining hole in my chest

With the heart that could not be patched or stitched up again

What now.

 

Finally a yoga teacher

I am completing my 200 hour yoga teacher training this weekend. I remain humbled and excited to see where this dharma might lead me. The changes have been subtle and meaningful. I am amazed that my capacity to grow and evolve remains in place, though sometimes I feel stuck, stuck, stuck in the attachments, cravings, and aversions of this material world. Yes it is normal but i see it more clearly every day, feel it more dearly, this need to let it go and let it go and let it go.

The major change from undertaking this journey that I feel confident in mentioning is that my “anger” seems to have dampened. I still suffer from anxiety, but I am better able to observe and let go, strive for peace regardless of the situation. Let go, let go, let go, let go. I do not have to do it all, I do not have to be responsible for failure, I can learn and move and grow.  I also see yoga more clearly each day as the path to a peaceful death, as well as a way to meet the stress of life, by taking the philosophy from the mat and applying it off the mat. Like it or not, death looms large before all of us, and I recall the hours I have spent as a hospice nurse, sitting at the bedside, holding a hand, watching the breath of others on their slow or fast movement toward death. And we all march on, every breath closer to the end, every breath an opportunity for growth, every breath a chance to be here now before the inevitable arrives.

The other day I was laying on the mat in my favorite little yoga studio. I lay staring up at the plain white ceiling and the long bright mid-day light came streaming through the windows. I had a flash of laying in bed, waiting to die, recalling the San Francisco Hospital, with its “Nightingale floors”, where I used to take nursing students for their first clinical experience. Some of the wards housed 20-30 patients, beds lined up on either side of the open room, with only a thin curtain to provide a chance at privacy. This was a city funded hospital, where many truly indigent patients would come to live and die, and the style of care often seemed as ancient as the 100 year old buildings.

But laying on the mat, I thought of the tall ceilings of this hospital, of the people who resided there, living and dying,  and how if I had my yoga practice, or even  the capacity to simply focus on my breath for some time, I could do this death thing, or anything, peacefully. I could breathe, and breathe, and breathe my way out of this suffering world when my time was right.

From the Mat

I look up and stare into the white light, the warmth, the all and nothing blending together

And I breathe

I notice the knots on the white washed wood. I realize how old this building is

Brick and mortar and wood and wires that will surely someday collapse in and down and around, back toward the earth

I wonder if anybody died in this place where I am now, feeling certain they have

And I breathe

The warm sun light streams into the room, basking me, floating me on its rays

And for just this moment I find it, that spaciousness, that opening to life

The peace, the letting go, the thing I have been craving

And I breathe

It floats away as new thoughts enter. I continue rearranging my thoughts

Thoughts flowing through predictably, continually, like the stars marching across the night sky

Which is okay for now, because I can at some point remember

To let go, let go, let go and watch the thoughts march by

Because I breathe.

Here on the mat.

With the white washed walls, the sun shining through, and my heart opening to peace, to the all and nothing.

And then we sit together. We chant aum and we say namaste to one another in a meaningful way.

I can feel that connection before it dissolves; yes I do see the light and beauty in you and me, in this room, with the light streaming in through the tall windows and reflecting of the white walls.

Because I breathe, and breathe, and breathe….

Hello Fall in New England: Remaining Sugar-Free

Though we are still technically a few days away from the Fall Equinox, this weekend has felt like Fall in New England. The weather has been gorgeous with cold nights and mornings, warmer days, but a hint of crispness in the shade. We have had clear blue skies, puffy clouds, and the foliage is just beginning to hint at the promise of an extravagant color show to come. Yesterday I did a 6 mile run through the woods and the perfectness of the day filled me with joy, gratitude, and a glowing appreciation for this beautiful area of Western Maine. Apple picking and pumpkin hunting need to be added to our weekend agendas, and thoughts of the last fair of fair season in Maine (The Fryeburg Fair) bring about excitement to our young girls thoughts. They ask about rides, cider, donuts, and ice cream.

So, yes Fall means that there may be new temptations as sweets and sugar seem to continue to abound in the landscape of life. I have made it 5 weeks sugar-free, and a common question has been, so what has changed for you? As I have written about before, the changes have been subtle, and I have come now to appreciate these questions (mostly from yoginis) as a chance to really reflect on what the benefits have been.

I have lost some weight, but now I need to focus on making sure I get enough to eat that I don’t lose any more weight, as being underweight may affect the immune system. Losing weight was not really the goal of this change in lifestyle. I feel more “even” and do not have nearly the extreme swings and sudden outbursts in temper or loss pf patience with my kids that I had before. My energy and endurance are improving, and the other day I noticed with my running that I am able to do about 10% more mileage in a given time period then I was able to do before without feeling any more effort.

But I have to say the greatest aspect of being sugar-free is that my anxiety has decreased greatly. Things that would normally send me into an internal stomach knot, I am now able to contemplate, recognize the feelings, and start to breathe through them. I feel as if I am more aware of my body in yoga, and I am able to find my edge and then back off a bit to be in a greater state of focused relaxation. On the days I don’t work out, I don’t feel quite as antsy I usually do.

I still have not gotten my lab work done (hopefully I can do that this week), but my hope is that with the elimination of sugar and the associated processed foods, perhaps my high cholesterol levels will have come down. I think this will be a huge supportive factor in continuing this process.

I also know that I need to be gentle with myself, and I need to focus on an eating plan. I am currently reading the book the Sugar Addict’s Total Recovery Program, (SATRP) and the author, Kathleen Desmaisons, has some great ideas about how to change your diet and lifestyle. I honestly had never thought of myself as a sugar addict,I was doing this as part of my yoga training, but when I look at her definitions and the lifestyle of a sugar addict, I realize that indeed I fall within the parameters of the sugar addict. I prefer to not eat breakfast, I prefer to eat a sugary treat as my first food of the day, I get hypoglycemic episodes, and I had my special foods and treats that nobody else was to eat.

With the SATRP, Desmaisons has a gentle and long-term approach to supporting the recovery from sugar addiction. Although I don’t feel I can completely start from the beginning of this program (you start by eating breakfast everyday that has a protein source), I would like to incorporate some of her ideas, such as eating 3 meals/ day at regular times and incorporating some protein, equivalent to 1/3 of daily needs, with each meal. I did order some protein powder to add some protein to some of my meals; I think being a vegetarian may make this a challenge. I have found some protein bars that are sugar-free and meet this criteria, and I will combine those with a piece of fruit for a meal. Hard boiled eggs and cheese will be my friends, as will veggie burgers, Quorn products, and beans. Desmaisons also recommends a potatoe before bed to increase serotonin levels and she offers an understandable and somewhat scientifically sound explanation for how this might work in the body and brain.

I know this will take a lot of planning, and trips to the grocery store, but I think the nurturing of my body is worth the effort I will need to put forth. I know that should I opt for a sugary treat, I should combine it with a meal to decrease the impact on my blood sugar and spend the time to really reflect on how my body-mind-spirit feel after having the treat. In all honesty, I almost want to have a treat to see if it really does make me feel woozy/ foggy, but perhaps I will wait until the fair to try it out…