It’s sunrise and bathing in the Ganga has begun. It is an auspicious day here in India when I took this photo. Visiting the Kumbha Mela, we met a man who walked 200 miles by foot to be there. We were handed dishes of rice with no expectation to pay-as so many don’t have the means. And we were invited into a private area to meet a saint and to see their spiritual fire ceremony. It is said that 150 million will visit by the time the mela ends. I did not witness one act of violence, angry outburst, or anything other than kindness. The largest peaceful gathering in the world. It was nice to be one in the millions.
I overheard a discussion that some folks here in India are taught to meet and greet every stranger they come into contact with as if they were an actual Deity, (which of course, is truth.) I’ve felt this greeting from them, first hand.
What if…always…anywhere, and everywhere, when people converged, they saw this in each other, no matter…
Instead of seeing each other for what they could receive; as a potential mate or possible friend or a maybe business partner…instead, they just met and honored and were grateful. That they were mindful in the moment of exchanging just the moment. And were, then, without definition, somehow connected…
They’d fold their hands together, bow softly, and smile from their hearts. “I honor the divinity within you.” Forevermore.
It’s how we conclude our yoga classes. Feeling this in a stronger way now, I’ll be slowing down, looking more into others’ eyes, being more mindful with those I share a moment with, and expanding this gesture off the mat and into the world with deeper meaning, conviction and sincerity.
Join. me? Namaste.
Naga Sadhus. Ashes covering their bodies. Himalayan cave living. Renunciating the world. Extremely rigorous initiation. Dedicating their lives to spiritual liberation. I’ll think of this on the mornings I don’t believe I have time to meditate.
This is a photo taken of Hailie and an unnamed elephant in Thailand. It shows a peaceful moment when a young girl and a young pachyderm share time and space together in the wild. It was one of Hailie’s favorite moment’s on her service trip. But it isn’t the first thing she shared with me on the drive home from the airport. It wasn’t the most important to her. Instead, she told of an Indian man and his story of how he discovered as he was growing up, that because of the increased use of land for farming, wild elephants couldn’t find their way to the river without being violently hurt by local farmers. The farmers needed to farm; big footed animals were disrupting that. But the elephants needed to drink water…and swim and survive- and not being allowed access, was hurting them.
This Indian man’s discovery about the elephants not having a way to a river, inspired him to purchase a great big plot of land when he grew up. On it he lives a simple life. He uses the sun for electricity. He has a compost pile. Nothing he does hurts the environment. He bought the land not to become an elephant center where tourists could ride for a fee. He didn’t capture some and make a zoo where you could toss peanuts and watch them lumber from one end of the enclosure to the other. He used his limited resources to purchase the land for a simple straightforward reason: so the elephants would have a safe way to water. Nothing glamorous. And nothing most would think of as overly heroic. Unless you are a wise and gentle 16 year old, floating down a wild river in a foreign country (and continent) and finding your way to an Indian man’s corner of the world. While ACT testing and college choices floated around in the back of her mind, Hailie met this man who explained his story…and she was moved. And inspired. By his words…he told these kids that sometimes in life you need someone to help make a safe path for you and if they needed, they would always have a place at his camp until they figured which direction to go in their lives. And by his actions… he showed them the path the elephants walk to water.
When Hailie hugged me good bye and headed towards the international terminal as she set off on the trip, I did the mom prayers, of staying safe. Not getting Malaria. Getting enough sleep. But deep down, I had hoped she’d also be blessed with at least one especially sacred moment. And this Indian man/elephant trail was one such blessing that I know will make a big impact in not only her life. Of course, I want her to do well on the ACT’s. And get into a college that can support her goals. But more so, even, was seeing what resonates with this young woman, how she noted, and was inspired by and then adopted into her future plans…what really makes the world a beautiful place…that simple, non glamorous act of helping and supporting others on their paths. As Hailie knows already…it’s a good and true way to travel through life.
I was sitting at the top of a mountain in Sedona, said to be a vortex of love. Two friends and I shared space in nature and talked about yoga stuff. And then the clouds rearranged and gifted us this. It was a beautiful day, with exquisite moments. As all are.
“It is written into all that exists, into all of creation and into every cell…Everything is one. All is love.” Happy International Yoga Day.
The tree pose (Vrksasana), helps strengthen muscles, improves balance and stretches the inner thighs. But when you’re standing in this Asana with eyes closed and a steady diaphragmatic breathe, you may sink into the pose and experience something beyond the stretch. Maybe you’ll feel the grounding sensation into the earth. And the expansiveness into the sky. Sharing space with this giant Sequoia was a sacred experience in nature for me, not just outer, but inner as well. It all came together. Uniting, as yoga does. As yoga is. Join us in the studio. We will stretch and lengthen, strengthen and balance. We will breathe and meditate and hopefully the moments united together in the studio (or at the outdoor river studio) will be a beautiful experience for you in nature as well. Hope to see you. www.balancingartstudio.com.
One other time I had heard the sound of a fawn in distress, so when I heard the bleating this time, coming from somewhere in woods, I was pretty sure I knew what it was.
As a teacher, mom, yoga guide, energy therapy worker– it is often my job to help. But sometimes, I know, the best form of help is to not get involved. And in the woods, many experts say it’s best to let nature take its course. Let it be. And so that’s what I did. I let it be.
Until the crying stopped. And time went on. And eventually there I was in the lower field. And there she lay in a wet part of the woods, injured, with other signs that I won’t detail here that she was in a desperate state.
As I looked at her, barely able to move, I hesitated, considering again letting nature take its course. But then my nature got the better of me.
Whitnie gathered a blanket, made a nest in a big enough box. Kaiti arrived home, hearing what was going on. Standing in the garage. Hushed voices calling friends….what do you feed a dehydrated…. Where do you get a bottle… What are the signs…. A flow of texts coming in: “Hang on, I’ll make a call.” “Here’s the number, call her…” Until finally…
“Hi I’m Kaiti. I have a fawn.”
It was Judy who answered- a voice that picked up at 9:30 pm and said, sure, bring her over.
Kaiti drove. We talked on the way about the conflicting opinion of not getting involved in nature. Then we talked more– that maybe dropping our house in the middle of their world was involvement that somehow gave us a bit of responsibility beyond what we’d have if we stumbled upon a fawn in untouched woods.
And so here we were, taking Fawn from our yard and bringing her 45 minutes through back winding roads to a little garage with a grandma waiting for us when we pulled up.
Judy said it didn’t look good. Yet Fawn had a good pulse, and when I wiggled the bottle into her mouth, she drank. Judy said it seemed she’d been attacked- the blood, the bite marks. And she wouldn’t have survived had we not stepped in.
And maybe that’s how the story should have ended. But it didn’t. So the story goes on…
We left Fawn in Judy’s care. She was going to give her antibiotics for her wounds. And pain killers. I gave Fawn a little Reiki prayer. Kaiti soothed her with her Kt softness.
On the way home, Kaiti and I talked again. Stories of “remember when” came up. This middle born was the daughter there the first time we found a fawn. She was a kindergartener. She dialed help as I held the fawn in my arms keeping a dog from getting it.
The ride home seemed shorter than the ride there. We felt a little lighter. A little better. The question still hung in the air if we made the right decision to step in and help. One thing we knew, though, was If we made the wrong decision, we did make it with good intentions. We made it with love.
Love. That’s what the evening was about, I realize. As we drove home, slowed down to wait for a passing train, Kaiti said, “I want to help like Judy does.” Then she went on, “And….I want the kind of friends that you have, that I can call who will know what to say when I find an orphaned, hurt deer.”
Of course, there’s more there that she’s really talking about than deer knowledge. It’s the feeling you get when you know you have a team who’ll swarm around you when you need them. Who are true and honest and down to earth enough to answer a call on a late Tuesday night and tell you to get a calf bottle and some goat’s milk. And then follow up the next morning asking how the fawn fared.
That feeling that if you are in distress, and you put out a call, someone will answer. Maybe not that moment. Maybe they will wait til it’s silent and they’ll poke about to see if everything is alright. And if it’s not…they won’t just let it be.
Love. It’s our nature.
When Whitnie was little, starting probably around four years old, I’d pull out the play dough and the paste. Wooden boxes to decorate with pretend feathers and shiny bling. And she’d stay busy for hours making presents for Grandpa and Grandma.
Those were quiet, peaceful times. They were simple. My worries involved making sure the glue was non-toxic and that I didn’t guide her too much so she could come up with her own creative ideas for creating.
Those times fleeted by before I had a chance to even notice.
Fast forward about 18 years to the other night. We spent the evening together. Our crafts spread out on the kitchen table. This time, I didn’t have to worry so much about toxic materials or guiding the project too much. This one, after all, was Whitnie’s idea. Her “We Are One,” necklaces were our project. We had several dozen orders to complete that night. Orders being shipped across town, across the country, and a few across the world.
Things aren’t always so simple now as they were back then. But that night… was quiet. And it was peaceful. And I realized, looking back and being present then, how moments can never be replayed, but they can be built upon. Which makes them new, and shiny, and dusted with a memorable bling.
As Whitnie concentrated on a charm, etching, “We Are One” in Thai, I closed my eyes, and breathed in the moment. I caught it this time. This Time…I caught. Consciously, fiercely, intently. And I whispered a prayer of thanks.
You can place orders for these necklaces on her site. A portion of the profit goes to Global Giving. And you’ll be giving a mom more special time to spend with her daughter.
If you google rejections of writers, you’ll find some inspiring stories. Margaret Mitchell, for instance, was rejected 38 times for her book, “Gone with the Wind.” This book went on to, well, you recognize the title, right? So enough said.
I think this quote about being alive is important because we don’t all write epic novels that turn into major motion pictures. I’m guessing Margaret herself didn’t realize the impact her words would have in the literary world. She just wrote. Tirelessly, fiercely, devotedly, because she was a writer. And even if no one else knew it….she did.
I have my own stories about my stories being rejected time and time again. Seriously, a lot of rejections. But I’ve also been blessed to have received the call saying, “yep, let’s do this thing,” from an honest to goodness publisher. It’s a pretty remarkable moment. It can be described as feeling, “Alive.”
But those rejections…those times when you open your computer and have another email saying, “Thank you for contacting us. We regret to inform you that we do not feel your story…” that fires up maybe a deeper feeling of aliveness. When you’re sitting in your pjs at 5 am after meditating and drinking tea, staring at the computer. Alone. Hours alone with words pouring out or getting stuck before they hit the screen…it doesn’t matter. Because you’re sitting there and at the same time you are typing this amazing one liner the email pops in that says another publisher thinks you aren’t good enough.
And then you have a choice. You can listen to them. Or you can listen to you. And it’s that moment–that’s the critical moment. So you hit the key to minimize the rejection letter and move back to the screen to continue writing. It’s that moment when you become conscious of your treasure.
That’s the moment of feeling alive.
A friend of mine gave me a journal. It says, “If you are a writer…write.”
Recognizing our treasures. And believing in yourself even when 38 well known publishers don’t…
Willow Words Writing services. I offer critiques of your manuscripts, advice on getting published, and business writing. Contact me to schedule a session.
Live Your Light-Write.
We just completed the 10 week Life-Artistry Meditation Course. Being it was the first time it was ever offered, I wasn’t sure how it would be received, if it would run, and how it would go. Though I’ve been a teacher of one sort or another for over 30 years, it was challenging to write the curriculum. I needed to fit within these two hour segments, experiences and information that would support a lifetime(s) practice. I had a few people supporting me (my yoga teacher, my brother, a good friend, my kids) as well as this voice inside me (sorry to be cliche but it’s true) that it was time to teach this. Five guest speakers agreed to contribute, all of whom I have great respect. So I began with a good foundation. I just needed to see who would come…
Seventeen people completed the Life-Artistry course, and eight received teacher certification. These eight will be wonderful guides and whether they teach at Balancing Arts or do their own thing at their own place, I hope you seek them out to receive from their wisdom.
Because, here’s the thing…all of these folks (the eight/the seventeen) did come…they came to the studio, they came to the mat. They came to expand and share and grow. They came even if they were already life-long meditators and they came even if they had never bowed their head in sustained silence before. Together, they shared their strengths, inspired each other, helped nurture each others’ curiosity. They helped each other see new perspectives; they helped each other to really see themselves.
Meditation is a powerful exploratory practice, and when you combine it with beautiful beings that gather together, it is almost hard to put into words. So I won’t. I’ll share this photo of a boulder I found in the red rocks of Sedona instead-a vortex of indescribable energy known as the heart center. Where love is. That’s kinda what it felt like to be among these people each week. A vortex of love.
From these eight/seventeen, I learned much. They are all “Life-Artistry” teachers, living their Lights. And as I pack away the curriculum, and put away the malas, I realize how humbled and grateful I am to have been their student.