Thursday, March 27, 2008

Thankful for spring -- Crocuses

The chill was back in the air today, but yesterday, on my walk, I passed a large patch of purple crocuses! Spring is coming!!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Talk Tonight

If you get the chance, come hear Dave Sokulski, L.Ac. of the Birch Center for Health speak tonight at the Carnegie Library in Oakland (PA.) He'll be at the main branch of the library at 6 pm speaking about acupuncture and answering questions. The talk is free, so come by if you can!

If you can't make it tonight, he will be speaking again on Wednesday, April 9 at the East End Food Coop at 7pm. His talk is entitled "Acupuncture De-Mystified." That talk is free and open to all as well. Just call the Coop to register: (412) 242-3598.

See you soon!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Walking in Nature

Now is such a nice time of year to get out into nature. The ground is just starting to wake up as the days get warmer. The sap has just about made it's way to the tops of the trees (maple syrup season is just about over) and the buds and flowers will be out soon.

What I like to do when I go out, is to walk, observe, and experience. I try not to name things...and it is very difficult for me. I try to listen to the birds, smell the earth, feel the cool air and warm sun, without a running commentary. That is a true challenge. In fact, it's exciting to get out there each time and see if I can do it. When it happens (in fleeting moments) it is so amazing and powerful.

Today we were walking and I was trying to just be without thinking. Then I saw a big mullein plant and I pointed and said, "mullein!" It made me think that by doing that, I don't experience the plant at all. Suddenly it's "mullein" and everything I ever learned about mullein: the fuzziness, the healing properties, etc. All I know about it someone told me, or I read in a book. I do personally work with mullein (with my own hands): drying the leaves for tea, collecting the flowers in oil, last year I even blended fresh leaves in water and strained it as a kind of juice (I did make that up, anyway!) But generally it's all what I learned from someone else.

This year I plan to experience nature, without words or labels. I'll practice walking meditation, but I also plan to take a sketch book with me sometimes, and just sit with a plant, or tree, or rock and really look at it. Sometimes when I sketch my mind is able to turn off, and I can just be with something.

For Pittsburghers impatient for the arrival of spring: check out the spring flower show at Phipps! The smells and sights of the brilliant flowers -- that is surely something for the sensory system! Next time I go there, I will try to walk through without my mental chatter as well.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Meditation: Quiet Mind

It seems I waited too long to sign in to Oprah's book discussion with Eckhart Tolle I'll have to watch it tomorrow.

At least it gives me a chance to post a bit.

I wanted to talk a bit about meditation (being Meditation Monday) and quiet mind.

It is interesting that when we sit to meditate, often our mind begins to chatter, chatter, chatter. (This is the voice that Tolle talks about in the book A New Earth. It's so easy to hear it when you are trying to quiet it.)

Sometimes it's in attack mode: "this is stupid, pointless, boring" or "you're no good at meditating...." Sometimes it tries to distract: suddenly you realize you haven't cleaned the litter box in a few days and it MUST BE DONE NOW! Or you wonder what you should have for dinner, or that you need to pick up cheese at the store...or any other little thing.

It is strange that we do this to ourselves, that our mind (ego) can't keep still for even a minute. This is because it is the ego, and it isn't real. It is just a tiny part of who we are...but it likes to make us think it IS who we are, after all: "I think, therefore I am", right? On pages 54-55, Tolle discusses this: "He (Descartes) realized that the fact that he was always thinking was beyond doubt, and so he equated thinking with Being, that is to say, identity--I am--with thinking. Instead of the ultimate truth, he had found the root of the ego, but he didn't know that." The ego knows that without our believing it is who we are, it's very existence will be threatened.

What can we do with this when we meditate, that is, when our aim is to achieve a quiet mind?

Firstly, don't rail at it. Don't yell at it or demand it to be quiet: that's it coming in through a back door.

Also, don't identify with it. You'll notice that if you don't get up to change that litter box, when your timer goes off (or your meditation session otherwise ends), it will suddenly be not so important, and chances are you won't even do it (I speak from experience.) Setting yourself a small amount of time (even 5 minutes) is often a good beginning technique: it gives you a good amount of time to meditate, but if your voice is nagging at you to do other things, most everything can wait five minutes, so you're not as tempted to give in.

As soon as you find yourself following a thought, just let it go and come back to your breath, or whatever other focus you've set up for yourself (some people relax their body into the floor, others use mantras or images.) Don't judge or scold yourself, just let it go and come back to the breath. It happens to everyone (unless it doesn't.)

Soon you will begin to wordlessly notice the quiet, the spaces between the breath, the spaces inside. Deepak Chopra and Wayne Dyer refer to the space as the gap. It is very peaceful, serene, vast. But as soon as we put words on it, that is the voice at work again, so just let it go and come back to the quiet.

Friday, March 7, 2008

A New Earth

If you missed the discussion with Oprah and Eckhart Tolle about Tolle's book, A New Earth, on Monday night, you can watch or listen to it by clicking here. I am so glad she is keeping archives of it! I heard it: it was really great!