Listening to Grandmother

This blog is called Songs The Sunrise Sings because I often wake up before or as the sun rises. I find a great comfort and sense of peace in watching the dawn of a new day: of hearing the sleeping world wake up. I spend several minutes in stillness, just listening. Even in winter, with doors and windows closed, the sounds of songs and greetings for the new morning can be heard.

I take the time to center myself for the new day. Some days I feel tired, or perhaps unwell, and it is difficult to find this centering. I am too attached to my body and my worries or fears. Other days it is as if a song flows from my heart and with great ease I send out love and wishes for all beings to be safe, healthy, free from fear and worry, happy and at ease.

“Every morning I get up and I pray for all sentient beings…..
humans, animals, even birds….
they all need happiness.”
~Grandmother Tsering Dolma Gyaltong,
International Council of the Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers

I have such strong, passionate thoughts and feelings about this. Yesterday a news reporter coined what may be a new word, “othering”. As in when we begin to refer to people we do not agree with, dislike, mistrust, fear and or doubt. We think about them as, or refer to them as, the “others”.

“Othering”

Grandmother Tsering says “NO” to “othering”. She teaches us, perhaps reminds us, that ALL need our love, our prayers, our effort to help ensure their happiness. Not wishing them punishment, incarceration, revenge, harm, to be invisible, to be irrelevant or insignificant, not calling for them to be oppressed or repressed. But, for each one to have and experience happiness. She calls for us, as we wake up in the morning, to send our prayers and wishes for happiness to all. And that is a tall order when we live in a world that is so full of fear and greed, misinformation, arrogance. A world where bombs become a solution, violence a means to an end, incarceration as solution rather than education and rehabilitation, where one religion strives to reign over others. In a world that judges by clothing, gender, sex, race, age, mistakes, status and beliefs. A world where we take and take and take.

…we, they, all deserve, and need, happiness….

prayergreenI have my own routine at night and in the morning. I follow a set of words and change who I am directing the thoughts towards. First to myself, then to someone I love deeply, then to someone who plays a significant role in my life as mentor or such. Next I think of someone who is an “acquaintance”, then to someone who is a challenging presence in my life. At the end, the prayer/ thoughts go out to ALL people and living things. ALL. Known, unknown, feared or revered. It’s just what I do. It grounds me. It reminds me of what I hold dear and value.

I know something like this isn’t for everyone. This isn’t something I have always done. I had to be ready to embrace this, to work at it, to allow it to become part of who I am. It wasn’t always possible for me to do this. But…it has changed me. So I offer it forward in hopes that more thoughts and prayers for the happiness and well being of all sentient beings can be put out there in a world where there is so much suffering and pain.

Readings This Week

“Every morning I get up and I pray for all sentient beings…humans, animals, even birds– they all need hap

Every morning I get up and I pray for all sentient beings…humans, animals, even birds– they all need happiness.

Advertisements

Pearls for the New Year

Sometimes we call inspiring and impactful words “pearls of wisdom.” They may challenge or uplift us. Perhaps they become the impetus for us to challenge or change ourselves. Maybe they kindle or revive some thought, feeling or hope that had become obscured or lost.

As the wheel turns and a new year roles into place I thought I would share some pearls of wisdom that reverberate in my thoughts, feelings and heart. Words that make me pause and think. Words that become a map for my life. Words that bring into questions ideas and beliefs. Words that change, inspire, even worry me. Words that uplift me and spark something into life in me. Sometimes they sound like an echo coming back to me….something that floated away and now is finding it’s way back to me. Dreams and thoughts, wishes and hopes I had sent out into the world in good will, but then seemed to have forgotten about, come softly back and nudge me.

Here they are, in no particular order.

love-hafiz

“Fashion your life as a garland of beautiful deeds.” 
— Buddha

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”
~The Dalai Lama

“One’s life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion”.~Simone de Beauvoir

“The emergence and blossoming of understanding, love, and intelligence has nothing to do with any tradition, no matter how ancient or impressive–it has nothing to do with time. It happens on its own when a human being questions, wonders, inquires, listens, and looks without getting stuck in fear, pleasure, and pain. When self-concern is quiet, in abeyance, heaven and earth are open.”~ Toni Packer

“Only a life lived for others is worth living.”
~ Albert Einstein

“Very little grows on jagged rock.
Be ground. Be crumbled,
so wildflowers will come up
where you are.”
~ Rumi

we will walk

“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate.
Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness.
Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree,
you still believe it to be a beautiful place.”
~Kurt Vonnegaut

“Questioner: How are we to treat others? Ramana Maharshi: There are no others.”

“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Talk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.” – Rabbi Tarfon

“Kindness can become its own motive. We are made kind by being kind.” 
– Eric Hoffer

“Kindness … loving people more than they deserve.” — Joseph Joubert

“The highest wisdom is loving kindness.” ~The Talmud

seneca kindness

 

“To be hopeful in bad times is based on the fact that human history is not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand Utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.” ~Howard Zinn

mo pnd

“Any persons whom you have ever met, even if you have just exchanged a glance on a bus, have become part of your being and consequently you are, in some sense, responsible for them. You carry them in your heart.” ~Native American saying in Grace In Action by Richard Rohr

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” ~Matthew 5.9

This kinship with the suffering of others, this inability to continue to regard it from afar, is the discovery of our soft spot, the discovery of bodhichitta. Bodhichittais a Sanskrit word that means “noble or awakened heart.” It is said to be present in all beings. Just as butter is inherent in milk and oil is inherent in a sesame seed, this soft spot is inherent in you and me.“~ Pema Chodron

“When we bless others, we offer them refuge from an indifferent world.”
— Rachel Naomi Remen

“In the expectation of wonderful things to happen in the future,
one doesn’t hear the sound of the wind and rain,
the breath and heartbeat this instant.”
~Toni Packer

corinthlove

“As a mother with her own life guards the life of her own child, let all-embracing embracing thoughts for all that lives be thine.” ~ Metta Sutta

“There are things you can’t reach. But
You can reach out to them, and all day long.
The wind, the bird flying away. The idea of god.
And it can keep you busy as anything else, and happier.
I look; morning to night I am never done with looking.
Looking I mean not just standing around, but standing around
As though with your arms open.” 
~ Mary Oliver

“Real fearlessness is the product of tenderness. It comes from letting the world tickle your heart, your raw and beautiful heart. You are willing to open up, without resistance or shyness, and face the world. You are willing to share your heart with others.” ~ Chogyam Trungpa

“Those who act kindly in this world will have kindness.” Qur’an

rumi quiet

“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.” ― Thích Nhất Hạnh

Men do not mirror themselves in running water–
they mirror themselves in still water.
Only what is still can still the stillness of other things.
” ~Taoism

Dig a big hole in the garden of your thoughts and put into it all your disillusions, disappointments, regrets, worries, troubles, doubts, and fears. Cover well with the earth of fruitfulness. Water it from the well of contentment. Sow on top the seeds of hope, courage, strength, patience, and love. Then when the time for gathering comes, may your harvest be a rich and fruitful one.”~ Anonymous

“An ocean, a rainforest, the human body, are all co-operatives. The redwood tree doesn’t take all the soil and nutrients, just what it needs to grow. A lion doesn’t kill every gazelle, just one. We have a term for something in the body when it takes more than its share, we call it: cancer.” ~ Tom Shadyac

If people could see that Change comes about as a result of millions of tiny acts that seem totally insignificant, well then they wouldn’t hesitate to take those tiny acts.” – Howard Zinn

And finally, I love this story:

Digging A Hole Big Enough to Sit In, by Twylah Nitsch

“I must have been under five when I spent one whole summer day digging a hole with a large spoon in the side of a bank near our house. I had to dig and dig because the ground was so full of roots and my goal was to make a hole big enough to sit in – like a cave. And that took a lot of hard work. Digging through all those roots was tough.

What I remember most about the experience is something my grandmother said. “When you take the dirt out, make sure you have a place for it,” she cautioned me, “because the dirt is used to being in that particular place, and it is at home there. Don’t take anything that is part of something and just scatter it around. Remember you are disturbing the home of the worms and the insects. You are moving them out of the place where they have been living, and you need to make sure that they are happy about where you are taking them.” So I would scoop the dirt into a little basket I had and take it around to various spots. “Is this where you would like to be?” I’d ask. And if the answer was yes, I would leave it. Otherwise, I’d pick up my basket, go to another spot, and ask again.

When I had finally made the hold deep enough to sit in, I would crawl in there and listen. I could hear the earth talking.”

There are many more! This is just a sampling!!!

Perhaps you’d care to share you favorite quotes or words of inspiration….

Happy New Year to each of you!!  Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Washing

“Keep close to Nature’s heart…
and break clear away, once in awhile,
and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods.
Wash your spirit clean.”
John Muir

I love being outside, yet sometimes I resist that love and stay inside. After all, I have things to do. Laundry, cooking, cleaning, work related things, doing nothing in particular, letting the cat sleep on me, drawing, reading, tidying up, catching up on TV shows, being at work, writing for this blog. The list is endless and mostly trivial. Yet, some days I still resist going outside.

When I break away and out, and feel the wind on my face, smell the fresh air, feel the heat or cold, get wet from rain, feel hidden in the fog, receive a kiss from the sun, hear a bird sing or watch a chipmunk play, I am transformed. I often feel I am healed. Perspective returns. Priorities become clear.

“Give away the things you don’t need
Let it all go and you’ll soon see
And you’ll wash your spirit clean
Wash your spirit clean
Go and pray upon a mountain
Go and pray beside the ocean
And you’ll wash your spirit clean
Wash Your spirit clean
Be grateful for the struggle
Be thankful for the lessons
And you’ll wash your spirit clean”

Lyrics ‘Wash Your Spirit Clean’, Walela

forest home waterfall

Give away the things you don’t need. That probably includes the computer and TV!! But more subtly and I think, more importantly, it means to give away resentment, fear, desire, want, worry, doubt, anger, regret, some of the stories we tell ourselves over and over.

I “pray”, but I do not pray as in a petition to God. I pray as in sending “energy” into the world. My foundation and inspiration is the Metta Prayer. With many variations it says, ” May all beings be safe. May all beings be free from suffering. May all beings be healthy. May all beings be loved. May all beings be filled with Loving Kindness.” I pray that I may be responsible for acting in ways that will make these things happen. I pray to be aware and mindful. I pray that I will be kind and compassionate. I pray that I will be quiet so I can hear. Still so I can observe. I pray that I may understand that the struggles and the lessons in life are things to be thankful for. They are how I learn, change, grow.

In Nature my spirit is washed clean. I am soaked, scrubbed, restored and hung out to air dry. I can feel the weight of all those stories I make up about myself and others, all the resentments, fears, desires, wants, worries, doubts, anger, regrets… all of them being washed and rinsed out of the fabric of my being. Sometimes I find I was not even aware of how dingy, stained and faded my thoughts, being, spirit had become.

When Nature has cleansed my spirit, my prayer becomes a continuous prayer. It becomes a living prayer.

Nature allows my senses to come alive. I can fall down in the snow and let the cold make me shiver.  I can feel the wind and the rain on my skin . I can hear the waves break along the shore and the birds sing. I can hear the tree branches creaking and leaves crunching under foot. Looking up there is the insane pairing of colors at sunset and the humbling expanse of the Milky Way. I swat at a mosquito and watch a butterfly. The smell of roses and lilacs require me to close my eyes, overcome by sheer pleasure. I allow myself to be immersed in Nature and my spirit is washed clean.

And then, the dirty dishes just are. The laundry just is. The crying child is only that. A long day is over. Being tired is nothing more than that. Good/bad disappear. Dreams of a new sports car, a bigger house, a new pair of shoes don’t seem to matter so much. Grandma never remembering my name, someone saying something mean, a person not living up to my expectations, me not living up to someones else’s expectations don’t really matter any more. Feeling overwhelmed and frustrated at work melts away. Desire to be in control, to be in charge, to be right, to look and act strong and determined don’t seem so important. The stories repeated of how smart, clever, kind, important, creative I am just seem silly. Memories can become that…things in the past that do not have to impact this moment. I can just be in this moment.

When I go out into Nature perspective is restored. My spirit is soaked, washed and rinsed….the weight of worry, disappointment, desire are all swept away as my spirit is washed clean. I am lighter, softer, more flexible….I flow and swirl.

Do I get all this right all the time? Nope. Do I falter and stumble? Yup. Will I stop/give up? No. Do I keep trying? Sure do.

Wash your spirit clean. Over and over again.

After thought: many of you tell me via email, Facebook, in person how much you enjoy reading these posts. Some of you even go as far as to say they help you look at things differently, or think about things differently. I sincerely wish you  would consider sharing your thoughts in the comment section of the blog post itself. I feel so strongly we have to have dialog to help each other maneuver through tough times. I learn a lot from all of you…even, and especially if you have differing thoughts and opinions. There is more to be gained in sharing what we think with one another in a respectful manner than in being silent. Regardless, thank you for your kind words and support.

What Grounds Me

nov7 path

Over the years I have journeyed down several different paths hoping to find peace of mind and peace of heart. I have been blessed with a life that has not made too many difficult demands or presented too many roadblocks. Still, for me, it is helpful to have a “prayer” to use. In my case “prayer” as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary: “an earnest request or wish”. I try to begin each day with a centering of some kind to get the day going, and then a different focus at night to let the day go and find peaceful rest.

I grew up the daughter of an Episcopal minister. I went to church on Sundays, Sunday school classes, confirmation classes and was confirmed. I understand it is not just about comfort, but I never found comfort in any of this. There was never a stirring in my heart from any of this. No song that wanted to sing out in joy, praise, humility. Anything.

In a previous post I wrote a bit about this:
https://kathrynwonders.wordpress.com/2014/09/28/be-soft/

Over the years I have tried this and that. I’m not really able to articulate what I was looking for. It was not about a supreme Being. Maybe not even about “spirituality”. More of a path that I could walk on in kindness, compassion, empathy and love. Free from fear, hate, judgement, right or wrong, self pride. For myself and for others.

As I sit here now, if I had to, I guess I would call what I practice, the path I try to follow, Loving Compassion. It’s just about trying to be a “good” person, a caring person, a loving and compassionate person. Someone who tries to cause no harm.

nov5

My “prayer” for many years now has been The Metta Prayer.

There are some variations, but each one has the same pattern: a prayer for yourself, a prayer for someone you love, a prayer for a mentor or someone you do not know well, but see often, a prayer for someone you struggle with and a prayer for all beings everywhere.

It is humbling to include all these people in my prayer and thoughts. It takes time to be comfortable in beginning with myself….but if I am not “taken care of” by myself, how can I take care of others?

And it helps me to ground myself in this moment. It connects me to others. It helps me embrace all others, no matter what. I can always wish for others, and myself, happiness, peace, health, love.

May I be safe.
May I be healthy.
May I be happy. 
May I be at ease.

Begin with yourself. This is often hard at first…..we tend to take care of others before ourselves. But we have to. After being offering this kindness to yourself, change the prayer to focus on someone you care about and love unconditionally. Imagine them sitting in front of you. Say their name. And then move on to someone who plays any role in your life, but you do not have a strong relationship with…maybe the cashier at the grocery, the parking lot attendant, the mail carrier….someone you see and interact with often. Or, perhaps it could be someone who is a mentor to you in some way. Someone you have regular contact with. Say their name, visualize their face. Now move on to someone you have difficulty with. To forgive, understand and accept is difficult. It may be a struggle, but don’t give up….And finally, your love flows out to the world.

May all beings be safe, healthy, happy, at ease.

When we wrap ourselves in love and care, and embrace others with the same, something changes in us.

I began this years ago before going to bed. A way of closing the the day and letting go in order to find rest and renewal in sleep. I began at a time when I was having the relatively new emotions of anger, hurt and resentment towards someone who had been an important part of my life for many years. The burden was so heavy. I had to find a way to work towards acceptance and forgiveness. I found that this worked very well, although it took time. I discovered it also changed me in other ways. As I gave directed thoughts of love and kindness to others in my daily life, I softened and found a quietness and calmness in life. It also reflected back to me in the way others interacted with me.

When I wish all others safety, good health, love, happiness and peace, it helps me find the bond with all others….every person, everywhere, hopes for and deserves these things by virtue of our shared humanness. They are no different from me.

There are many variations of the words and if this is of interest to you I encourage you to do some research and find the version that speaks to you.

prayer flag1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjfCS88Gc7Q

Ten Steps

path2edit(photo by me)

There is a path I walk often. It is near my house. It goes through the woods, wanders along a babbling creek and is just about 2 miles long. On any given day there are joggers and runners, dog walkers and regular walkers, talkers, bicyclists and others. There is lots of wildlife scampering around. Bird song never stops. The wild raspberry is blooming, scattering bright splotches of magenta everywhere. It’s usually busy on this path.

Today as I walked I realized there was no one else on the path. I had never experienced that before. It had been raining, and while not hot, it was humid.

As I came to the one mile mark, also the point where I turn around, I decided I was going to turn the rest of the walk into a walking meditation. I had been reading about walking meditation, with bowing, and it seemed the time had arrived for me to do it. I was alone. It was quiet.

There are many formal ways to do a walking meditation with bowing. But, I am not really one who likes to do things so formally. I made the walk my own.

Why do a walking meditation? Why seek time for reflection, introspection? Because life is so full of being fast and busy, of things and people being important. Daily life is about time, the clock, appointments, obligations. There are schedules and deadlines. There is a sense of needing to move and produce faster. Our minds get lost in thoughts of hopes, dreams, desires and wants. We live off lists of things to do, things to remember, things to get, things to experience..things. We dwell in emotions of sadness, disappointment, happiness, excitement, anger, frustration, joy, anticipation, envy and love. Things happen to us and we take them personally when they don’t have anything to do with us. There is noise and activity.

I get lost in that stuff.

So now, here I was. In the midst of nature. Alone. It seemed the time had arrived.

At first I just stood. In yoga this pose is called tadasana. Tadasana grounds you. Helps you to be focused. It helps you to become aware and present.

Then I walked 10 steps and stopped. I put my hands together and bowed slightly, expressing out loud my gratitude for something. 10 more steps. Bow.  Express gratitude. For 3/4 of a mile I did this. The final quarter mile I replaced gratitude with the Metta (Loving Kindness ) prayer.

During one of my bowing pauses I spoke out loud of being grateful for the practice of “right thinking”. This is the idea that what we think impacts our heart and mind as well as our physical being. If we think bad thoughts that is reflected in our actions and well being. If we engage in right thinking we are uplifted, healthy in body, heart and mind. Either “bad/wrong thinking” or “right thinking” spreads out from us, affecting the world around us, and the well being of others too.

For a mile I took 10 steps, paused, bowed and felt gratefulness for a variety of things. I named a lot of people and things…. And there are hundreds and hundreds more to acknowledge. I removed myself from superficial things. I found on this quiet, empty path, a mile long interlude to refocus, reconnect, re-evaluate, rediscover, reinstate what is important. To name gratitude and honor all there is in life and the world to be thankful for. For a mile I gave up wallowing in busy-ness, desires, hopes, emotions, time, responsibility, division and separateness and gave life to slowness, softness, mindfulness, appreciation, recognition. To gratitude.

Ten steps at a time.

metta2

(Metta, also called the Loving Kindness Prayer.
There are several interpretations.
You begin with your self, then name others.)