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Archive for the ‘mindfulness’ Category

As I trouble over following my mother’s health directive to administer more pain medications to relieve her of the ongoing suffering bone cancer inflicts, I worry about whether or not she has said goodbye. Not so much to each of us, as we have all been saying goodbye for some time now. I wonder if she will have another chance to really take in the trees outside her window, and the blue sky. Will she ever hear bird-song again and does she need a spin in the wheelchair to enjoy that. I don’t need to ask myself if it matters to her. She is the one who first tutored me in its treasures. Perhaps she has been saying good bye for some time and we are just unaware of that. After all, she is already traveling in both worlds, here and beyond.

I realize some of this is a projection of my own needs and what I want. There is a post going around on Facebook of a forest ranger who was in hospice care and wanted to be in her beloved Nature again.  It never fails to move me. I know that deep call of nature and its healing resonance. If I were ill and could not go outside, I would want the sounds in my room, birdsong, ocean waves, breeze in the trees, whale calls.

Today, Earth Day, I am also thinking of another mother and, in both cases, what it means to say goodbye and how goodbye lives in relationship with hello.

Our earth, Pachamama, Gaia, is our mother and we are her children.

photo of dogwood copyright (c) KJLoh

Thinking how important it is to me to say goodbye, to her, I ask myself, “Have I said hello to Pachamama today? Have I honored her and thanked her, offered my respect?”

As I walked the woods pondering this, offering my gratitude to the trees in particular, I was greeted by more birdsong than I have heard since the approach of winter. I soaked it up, let it re-organize my cells. I regularly say “hello” out loud to the flowers, mushrooms, trees and many creatures I see on my walks and hikes. I wonder, having said hello so often, will it be easier or harder to, someday, say goodbye?

When I consider my own passing, I imagine having said hello more often, having received, really received the beauty and gift of this Earth, will make my goodbye more rich, and sad, yes, but very sweet. I wonder too, how often do I protect myself from a painful goodbye by withholding my hello? Do I imagine keeping my love and appreciation contained will somehow save me from deeper heartache?

If I have not said hello enough will I care enough to preserve the Earth and her creatures. Will I really know what it means to recycle, to conserve, to celebrate the biodiversity, to appreciate the bounty?

One of my teachers, Don Oscar Miro-Quesada, encourages us to honor Pachamama with song, ritual, dance, drumming. Yes, this is a profound and sacred way of saying hello.

And, please know, that if you are not inclined to perform ceremony or join a beach cleanup, your simple hello by way of true observation, connection and reception is more powerful and more healing than you might imagine.

You matter and you may be the only person to ever see that particular blossom, that dandelion seed in flight.

I invite you to join me, to celebrate our beautiful Earth mother, by taking a moment to say “hello” to her. Commune with a tree, take in the beauty of a wildflower, sit by a body of water in reflection. Listen to the birds singing. Stop, pause, if only for a minute, and say “Hello.”

Like beginnings and endings, hello and goodbye exist in the same moment, in a unity. We need to be aware of what we are unconsciously throwing away (and the many more painful goodbyes it may create) when we forget to say hello.

Pachamama, our beloved mother Earth, gives and gives. Your hello says “I see you and I appreciate you.” Say hello, not just today, but every day.

Copyright © April 22, 2015 Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

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Time is eternal…What can happen in 7 minutes?

Will you give yourself 7 minutes for a sound bath?

Will you give yourself 7 minutes to offer compassion to all of humanity and this beautiful Earth?

Will you give yourself 7 minutes to receive a blessing and heart opening?

Will you give yourself 7 minutes to align body, mind, spirit, heart?

Will you give yourself 7 minutes to ground and allow your mind to be at peace?

If yes, then treat yourself to 7 minutes of  an exquisite multimedia presentation.

A blessing of photography, video, bells, beautiful chanting by Phap Niem  and voiced by Thich Nhat Hanh ~ Enjoy!

 

The Great Bell Chant (The End of Suffering) from R Smittenaar on Vimeo.

 

The music was composed by Gary Malkin and can all be enjoyed as book/audio book co-authored with Michael Stillwater: Graceful Passages

*This came to me by way of Anthony Lawlor, author of the new book 24 Patterns of Wisdom which I also highly recommend.

copyright (c) December 2011, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved - video embedded with permission.

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“The words ‘I am’ are potent words; be careful what you hitch them to.  The thing you’re claiming has a way of reaching back and claiming you”.  ~A.L. Kitselman

I saw the movie Tree of Life last night. It’s a long film and more a collage or kaleidoscopic adventure than linear story.  It’s definitely more art than entertainment, though I found it to be both. It’s definitely a feast for the eyes and perhaps the soul. It met with mixed reviews from the audience, but then so did Impressionism, Symbolism, Cubism; you name it.

About half way through the movie, the guy eating popcorn next to me checked the time on his watch. When it was over, the woman behind me sighed loudly and said “Oh thank God. That was awful.” (I wondered why she found it important for the rest of us to hear that and why she stayed through the entire film.  Why spend precious moments of life voluntarily enduring something that causes you pain?) In general there was a huge question mark hanging in the air in the theater as everyone made their way to the aisles and back to “reality,” speaking in muffled late evening voices or simply walking together in silence.

I carried that question mark home with me and it wove itself into my dreams and threaded its way into my first waking thoughts this morning.  Never mind trying to come to grips with some missing details in the storyline like how old was the boy when he died and whatever happened to… or what was being said / not said about afterlife.  Never mind, as well, how much I related to a story set in the 1950s with an authoritarian parent and the death of one of the children.

What I was sitting with (or what was sitting on top of me) was the paradox of significance and insignificance.

In the film, we are treated to amazing scenes of the Universe. The sense of space as infinite and time as eternal is awe-inspiring.  I felt so small while viewing those images. While making breakfast, I continued to feel the tug of war between my desire and passion for creating a life I enjoy, making a difference while I’m here and some sense of nihilism. I experience both extreme discomfort and huge relief when I ask myself “what’s the point?”

I took the paradox into my morning meditation / contemplation.  After getting myself deep into a meditative state, I found myself saying out loud:

I am significant in my insignificance.

I sat with that for a moment and then I said:

I am insignificant in my significance.

I let it resound in my being for a moment, without answer, just experiencing the impact of the words.

Then, thinking I would say “I am both”, I found myself uttering:

I am

A huge wave of energy washed through me. I can’t describe it better than that and I can say that the tears (OK sobbing) came with the wave and it was not sadness, it was more like gratitude. I saw a sun floating before me that I decided to take into me. It filled me with another wave that forced breath in and out of my throat chakra. It was the breath of life. That’s what it felt like; like the first cries of a newborn babe.

The mind, being the wonder it is, may look for connection with the biblical verse from Revelations:  “I am the alpha and the omega.” But, honestly, I have no need to follow the mental thread any further. I was in the experience and what I knew for sure was that something was coming online.

Some part of me that I’d left for dead was recognizing I’m alive and that all that matters is this gift of Life.

This gift of Life is exactly that, a gift and not something we have to wait to live until we’ve earned it through our good deeds, our political, spiritual or eco-correctness. It’s not a reward for achievement(s); not a destination on some far horizon.

The generous giver of the gift only wants us to receive the gift. Receive.

I don’t think we are expected to give anything back. Our generous receiving is our giving.

Those redwoods I hear singing in celebration when I listen deeply – perhaps they are singing joyful songs of “I am.”

copyright(c) October 2009,KathyJLoh, All Rights Reserved Soquel Hills

We spend a lot of our lives adding extra words to “I am.” By those words we define ourselves and others. We lay claim to our specialness in a way that leaves us bereft of our true uniqueness. 

We get our knickers in a bunch over what to say after “I am” and we get confused if what we think we are conflicts with what we wish we were. We carry the baggage of the words by which we call ourselves around with us, adding more and more through the years. Some of those words are lovely and some, downright degrading.

Perhaps all we need is our name (which in many traditions is the source and the resonance of our life power) and to know that at the root of every name is Love.

As one who is Love, we are each and every one, significant.  We are the unique expressions of creation; the vehicles through which creation gets to play in form; sees and is seen, hears and is heard, knows and is known.

In our sense of time, this unfathomable timeline of eternity, my life, your life, is but the blink of an eye, as it is said.

At the same time, all that is and ever was is now and the blink of an eye is a major event in the now.

copyright (c) July 2011, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

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“It’s a quarter after one, I’m all alone and I need you now.”  – Lady Antebellum (Need You Now)

I had to take my van in for scheduled maintenance and I knew I’d be house-bound for the day, except for wherever I might choose to go on foot. Well, let’s not argue bikes and buses, that’s not the point. I chose to make today one free of the obligation to go anywhere.  I thought I was clearing today to work on some projects and it’s still possible I will do that later.

What I didn’t expect was that my entire system, body, mind, spirit and heart, would seize the opportunity to do a little (or a lot of) integrating and healing. It’s like my system saw the open space coming and the entire assembly line began to whir.

It began with reviewing my post-divorce journey yesterday. (The project I’m working on has to do with that journey.) Those thoughts led to noticing what I really feel about where I live, what I do and what I’ve left behind, including what more there is to leave at the curb.

I had a vivid dream about my ex. I’ll spare you the details (and dream analysis) and will simply say that, in the dream, I held him with huge compassion and love. I wrote about it in my journal and pulled an angel card: Healing. The cards on either side of it being: Forgiveness and Self-acceptance.

Iris - copyright(c) May 2010, K Loh, All Rights Reserved

Iris: symbolizes new birth at hand

In my morning meditation, it occurred to me to offer the same love, compassion and forgiveness to myself that I had offered my ex in my dream.  I did so out loud. Whoever lives in me and carries some sense of unworthiness heard it and sobbed with relief. I felt the guilt and pain dissolve while my cells danced with the light and love of healing forgiveness.

We hold things against ourselves unconsciously. It’s so important to become curious about and intimate with our self-talk. How many times have you heard someone say, “I’m harder on myself than anyone else?” Hello? Is this supposed to earn us some kind of award? No wonder the body hurts, the spirit sinks, the heart cowers and the mind becomes distorted. No wonder. We become so separated from ourselves.

Jump ahead an hour or so and I am home, without a vehicle of the gas-guzzling variety. There’s a sense of solitude about it, kind of like when the power goes out or being snowed in. The spaciousness is visceral. The house feels doubly insulated and there’s a kind of sobriety about the stillness when the mind is not able to run a checklist of all the places I can go to get away from here.

The phone rang, once and then nothing. No caller ID to know who it was. I discovered the garage door was open… (must’ve hit the clicker in my purse when I was reaching for my keys.) How odd, I thought. But then, I get that my own personal garage door of past memories, slights, and embarrassments has been opened wide. I’m shedding light on those old boxes stored away deep inside. Not some glaring construction light that has to do with fixing. Rather a soft dappled sunlight that says “it’s over now. You are safe. You can come out of hiding.”

Then I found myself checking email and catching the odd video link here and there on Twitter and Facebook that catches my fancy. It’s a kind of warmup ritual (that serves double duty of procrastination ritual) for me and it gives me something to post to each stream.  I came across music session videos on Huffington Post and I clicked on Lady Antebellum’s Need You Now.

I was that person at one time and I have had a hard time reconciling with that self and her behavior; the neediness, the addiction to someone, the pain of the attachment, the lack of control that had me make a phone call that only leads to more shame and  pain.  I love the song, bought the CD, but never let myself fully feel it. Today, I was able to watch the video, listen to the words, feel the emotion, recognize it as if looking in a mirror, and not turn away. I can accept that I’ve been there and done that. Really, who hasn’t?

And so, with the help of a dream, a bit of space and time, loving guides, meditation, gentle whispers and winks from the Universe, and Lady Antebellum, I have discovered that my body, mind, spirit and heart have opted to spend the day aligning, integrating and moving toward the next greater wholeness of my being. Who am I to argue with their wisdom?

I took my car to the shop for maintenance. My soul created sacred space for its “vehicle’s” healing and I am re-membering innocence.

What will you re-member today? What disowned part of you gets to come home and rest in the vast loving space of your heart?


copyright (c) May 2010, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved (includes images, but not youtube video)

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Day 4 #Reverb10 – How do you cultivate wonder?


It seems to me that wonder is a natural state of being.

Wonder comes when I am deeply present.

When I am in the past, my wonder becomes wandering. I get lost in what was. I am not with what is.

When I am in the future, my wonder becomes worrying and hoping. I get lost in what might be. I am not here.

I cultivate wonder by nurturing truth, integrity, beauty and presence.

Wonder is a garden. I weed.  I feed. It’s a labor of love. It’s a practice.

I pull the weeds of:

  • Judgment (as much of me as of others)
  • Fear (move toward anxiety)
  • Ostrich behavior (changing don’t see: doesn’t exist to being with what is)
  • Shadow projections (bring it on home)
  • Blame (bring that one home too)
  • Urgency (there is plenty of time – step into the flow of Divine timing)
  • Dis-ease and dis-harmony (bring awareness to it)

I feed and receive truth, integrity, beauty and presence by:

  • Opening my senses
  • Sowing seeds of happiness
  • Engaging with dogs, cats and wild creatures big and small.
  • Communing with trees
  • Receiving the gifts of flowers
  • Getting up close and personal with the world through the camera’s macro and telescopic lenses
Pin-sized mushroom copyright (c) April 2010, Kathy J Loh

Pin-sized mushroom

  • Cloud gazing
  • Watching the sun rise and set

Sunset 3/6/2010 copyright (c) March 2010 Kathy J Loh

  • Meditation and grounding daily, engaging soul, body mind spirit heart, and Divine Essence
  • Remaining ever curious (Who is that person across from me, really? I look beyond my assumptions and I open to be with who he/she is.)
  • Reading Rumi, Hafiz, David Whyte, Mary Oliver
  • Cultivating magic and miracles
  • Playing with messages from the Mystery
  • Stargazing and contemplating infinity
  • Watching the moon rise and set
Venus and crescent moon copyright (c) April 2010 Kathy J Loh

Venus and the crescent moon

  • Walking a path of Beauty
  • Receiving Grace
  • Living in the question
  • Dawdling
  • Singing the song that asks to be sung in the moment
  • Falling into the silence that follows the song
  • Listening to music, traversing the pathways of melodies and bathing in colorful harmonies

And you, dear reader, how do you cultivate wonder?

Copyright© Dec 2010, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

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I meditate.

I contemplate.

I have great internal Board of Directors meetings.

I sing and chant and sometimes even rant.

I fill my heart and empty my mind.

I follow my mind and empty my heart.

Dance with my spirit and inhabit my body.

Sometimes I am guided. Most often, I dance alone.

This morning the sunrise was a sight to behold. Clouds to the west kissed illuminated hills and homes. I could not sequester myself in my meditation room and miss the morning.

 

copyright(c) Oct 2010, Kathy J Loh

Where does the pathway in the clouds lead?

 

Jackhammers abused concrete somewhere in the valley below. A steady stream of cars snaked its way up Wolfe Grade and silver jets left vapor trails between the clouds…so many people going somewhere.

Is this how we honor the dawn?

Is this how we honor all beginnings?

I don’t know. I only wonder.

Not wanting to miss the changing colors and shapes of the clouds; not wanting to miss the flocks of crows (and one tiny hummingbird) that traverse the skyscape, I began to sing, as I always do to begin meditation.

At first I was aware of my voice and the wending of the melody. Soon enough, I was absorbed by the pastel hues, absorbed by whatever it is that absorbs me, of which I am a part, to which I belong, and the song emerged as a completely self-organized melody; my morning song; this morning song.

Or is it mourning song, like the dove in the pine outside my window? For the tears come as my heart cracks open and I don’t really know what is sad or what is too much to hold.

Perhaps it is gratitude.

Perhaps it is Beauty.

Surely it is Love.

And, it doesn’t need a name.

When I retreat to my mediation room each morning, supposedly to ground myself so as to be more present during the day, to what have I become un-present? Where have I gone and how much of the day already missed?

This “being present to”… this offering of lullaby to the dawn and all the weary travelers, this is what grounds me now.

What is your morning practice?

copyright(c) October 2010, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

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Newspapers, blogs and newscasts are bursting with images of the past decade and best of 2009 lists. I’ve participated in some of it. I enjoy the retrospection and introspection of it all, but  today, I’m cranky.

I was going to write about the blue moon, the eclipse, everything appearing to go backwards in the sky and how that will impact our resolutions. I was going to write something about creating intentions for the new year, the new decade. I was going to suggest various activities including collages, stories and letters to self. I kept putting it off because, quite frankly, it was boring me; all this coach-speak.

New Year’s  Day is my favorite holiday. It’s a bona-fide do-nothing holiday that one is not required to spend with family. That means, I get it all to myself, at home, in the woods, and that’s usually how I spend it. I plot out what I know about the year ahead, I hike, I put birthdays on the new calendar. I dream into an entire year in one day and then I pop back again to the present. Most often I end up completely disoriented by all the “time travel.”

I pull an angel card and two Spirit Cards (I AM and I WILL) for the year and I will pay attention to how they speak to me all year long. Early in January, I attend a Tarot Pilgrimage with Pamela Eakins and I pull a Tarot of the Spirit card for every month of the year. I divine the year and then I see what unfolds.

I have intentions. I intend to make more money. I intend to find a larger home. I intend to play more music and I intend to fall in love at least long enough to have some fun. None of these intentions are new. I’ve been intending them for many months if not the entire prior year. (OK, my whole life.) I put my spirit, heart and mind into these intentions, but it takes awhile for physical form to catch up. So, while I wait, I try to keep up with the Twitter and Facebook feeds.

Here’s the thing. With all the astro-activity going on, we don’t stand a chance! Mercury is retrograde until January 15th. That means we will over-research things before acting, we will over-think things and our electronics and our communication will be out of whack. Travel generally suffers then as well. Additionally, Mars is retrograde and that leaves us with lower energy. Mars tests us. As astrologist Risa D’Angeles points out:

“When retrogrades occur it means the information and energy we’ve built up since the last retrograde now needs to be assessed and reviewed. The entire world is to go into a contemplative phase. It is a time of retreat and quietude.”

January 1st or not, we are in a portion of the cycle that is not conducive to starting new behaviors and ventures in an active to-do way.

Now, if that’s not enough to deflate one’s resolution balloon, perhaps science will. It seems that will power is handled by the same part of the brain that handles short term memory. The more we are trying to do in any one moment, the less will power we have.  If you want to know about the studies that show this, read the Wall Street Journal article, Blame it on the Brain.  Meanwhile, if you can be like Buddha and sit under the Bodhi tree, you might stand a chance of having enough will power to stop eating sugar, stop smoking, and keep that daily dose of wine to 4 ounces.

Finally, New Year’s Eve sees a blue moon; the second full moon in a month. This is the first one to happen on NY Eve in 20 years and the next time this occurs will be in 2028. We say once-in-a-blue moon because it means something that rarely happens. This blue moon will be partially eclipsed and eclipses mean some things will disappear from our physical reality. This might be a good thing and it might not. It depends upon what it is that disappears from your reality and how attached to it you are.

But wait, there’s more!

Risa explains that the moon goes void-of-course on January 1st and the impact it can have is that our lives and routines may feel disrupted. Perhaps this is good if we want to change habits. Perhaps it is not.

If you are able to follow through on your resolutions from day 1, it will truly be a once-in-a-blue-moon miracle.

footprints in sand

One step at a time (K J Loh)

So here’s what I intend to do about it:

Very little!

Very little steps

Very little effort

Here’s how I intend to be with it:

Very aware

Moving with ease

Gentle with myself

I plan on making every day New Year’s Day, evolving my capacity to bring exquisite awareness to each moment and mindfulness to activities. I plan on making every evening New Year’s Eve by reviewing the day, forgiving myself for failings and celebrating successes. I’ll calibrate and re-connect with my heart for improved navigation.  I’ll regroup and reground, so that whatever winds may blow, I’ll be in touch with that which centers me.

Things change when we place our awareness upon them.  Our once-in-a-blue-moon miracles stand a chance if we cast our intentions from our brilliant imaginations and open hearts and become present enough to be response-able in each moment.

I plan to fail and flail and sail and I intend to have a good time doing it.

After all, it’s not about control. It’s about Love.

Here’s a little Blue Moon song for you, dear readers!

Copyright (c) December 2009, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

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