My heart sings for small towns not for the crumbling, faded houses or the hollow eyes that inhabit them but for the spaces in between humanity the thick undergrowth of untouched hillsides the silence that surrounds you as you emerge at the street's abrupt end winding roads turning to dust as they weave through valleys and stitch the mountains together no turns in sight as you faithfully follow for miles to a singular destination in the distant country, past oceans made of tall grasses and grazing cattle where the open sky is unhindered by smog and skyscrapers and you can feel yourself shrinking beneath the infinity of distant stars or cradled by the buoyant brushstrokes of soft clouds in an endless canvas of blue swallowed up, dissolved, and made whole again all at once I've always found safety in the subtle symphony of places far away from people the silent prayer of bare feet against the warm earth sunlight filtered through gently rustling leaves the tender cadence of countless other lives swelling and saturating every cell of my being bowing down in reverence to this ancient rhythm Separation from source is the truest form of suffering caged inside the arrogant design of human kind cut off from the wind and light set aside to sit in sterile cells tangled up in selfish isolation eating ourselves alive No, I'd rather wade into the cool embrace the filthy, glistening grandeur of the river memorize the ever changing melody of chirping birds and tiny insects the healing buzz of their constant vibration lapping at the shores of my truest self reminding me of my part in the song
Winter wipes away all memory of the sweetness of summer air it stops me in my tracts when my senses are infiltrated again with the intoxicating scent of soft petals The cacophony of sensation that saturates the warmer months never fails to fill my soul with reverence and awe for our magnificent mother Inspiration seeps into every pore when the world reawakens at my doorstep the miracle of resurrection witnessed once again When all hope is nearly lost the tender blades of grass whisper "just give us one more day" I fall to my knees upon it and gratefully obey
When the stress of constant struggling steals the light from my sky it's soothing to remember that despite my small share of suffering I still have so much The energy exerted to become a butterfly can be exhausting enough without the fear that form may never come at times like these it's important to consider that being a caterpillar is cool too
Walking the line between contentment and complacency trying to find the middle ground of gratitude and grasping satisfaction and searching for more Focusing only on injustice and suffering is sure to wear you down fast but somehow it feels selfish to simply enjoy my own lucky lot in life without using my privilege to fight for more I'm far from ungrateful for how far we've come even though I know we can still do better I don't want to seem greedy asking for more than what I've got There are so many that have less than me I don't pretend to have earned my present place I take no pride in a roll of the dice but sometimes it's still hard not to feel cheated when you were promised so much more I don't take for granted clean water and fresh foods but should that mean I have to accept a 40 hour work week not providing any sense of true security? Humanity has a timeline now that only I seem to acknowledge is it frivolous to ask for dignity and mutual respect on a planet that is slowly dying under our overcrowded feet? Why fight for far off goals I truly believe we won't even have a chance to reach? My righteous indignation has long since faded away Most days I wonder whether I should just bite my tongue and be thankful that it isn't far worse I know that it could be that it will be
there is no peace for a heart hunted down by phantom fears what you seek will soon be found magnified, multiplied lungs filled with flowers dark and haunted hovels iridescent crystals of consciousness each frame of reality a microcosm of unending eternity selections from innumerable fractals of possibility manifested as moments focus, focus, focus fear, death, joy, and love are equally present in everything don't be afraid of the uncertainty that engulfs you it is the soft caress of the brutal, boiling sun that sets you free
I used to think the little things were not enough to fill me up fear seems so much larger and closer than the morning sun perched on treetops but now I know how to see it how to bundle up all those little moments like so many love notes from the universe and boil them down to make a balm that heals and fortifies the restless soul I know how to let the little moments in I've seen them shrink those fears lightening the load of a heavy, hurting heart don't underestimate the power of fresh cut grass and spring showers the world offers refuge for all those who seek it transcribed into bird songs, babbling brooks, and the rustling of newly budded leaves the irony of life is overlooking what we need straining our necks to see the big picture without savoring the safety found in stillness and simplicity when the world gets too large you can find me with the small things wrapped in morning dewdrops dissolving my self into intricate mosaics of green
There is purpose in pain there is salvation in suffering there is peace is powerlessness teetering on the edge of oblivion is a balancing act that brings great strength blessings disguised as burdens bring unsuspecting hearts new perspectives sometimes joy is hard to find in a life of lavish excess the simple soothing sensations of aching needs finally met are lost in the gratuitous gamut of wealth and superfluous luxury even small happinesses are enough to feed a truly hungry heart there is no need to fear the fall it offers us cleansing from distraction a chance to uncover the real pleasures of a life unclouded by greed we flee from the emptiness clinging desperately to all we have forgetting that letting go is a lesson that teaches us we were enough all along
I recently read that one of the most important tips given to new race car drivers is, “whatever you do, don’t look at the wall.” When I heard this, it immediately reminded me of one of my very first practice driving sessions with my mom when I was a teenager. As I was driving 25mph down a street in my dinky little home town, my sister yells out from the back seat for us to look at a house to our right. Without thinking, I turn my head to look. In just that one split second, turning my attention away from the road and just to the side, I had swerved the car and nearly driven up onto the sidewalk. Whether you realize it or not, where you place your focus is the direction you are heading.
We say something similar when teaching arm balances in yoga. In teacher training when we practiced cues for bakasana (crow pose) we were told to always make sure to emphasize the importance of our gaze. If you look straight down between your hands as you try to lower your body’s weight forward onto the backs of the arms, you’re inevitably going to tumble forward and possibly hit your head on the floor. The trick is to look a few inches ahead of you. Looking forward, but not down. Our gaze is a reflection of our focus and intention and a reminder of how important these things are.
I think these physical examples are an excellent demonstration of how this same principle applies in more abstract matters. If you look at the wall, you’ll hit the wall. If you look at the floor below you, that’s where you’re going. If you focus on the potential problems or possible ways you might fail, that is where you’re going to find yourself in the future. It seems so obvious when I think about it in this context.
My anxiety is always directing me to the worse possible outcome. It would be great if I were able to print out a pie graph of my mental energy expenditure from day to day. I’d be willing to bet that 90% of my thoughts are about what I’m afraid of or what could go wrong. Even when things usually go pretty well for me, I always immediately find the next fear to latch onto as soon as one disappears. Somehow my brain convinces itself that it is doing this to keep me safe. And to a certain extent, it is smart to contemplate obstacles that may come up and how we can deal with them in the event that they do. However, this is not really what my anxiety is doing. It’s not coming up with calm, rational contingency plans. It’s telling me that the experience will be inherently stressful and traumatizing and trying to find a way to avoid it all together.
It’s really helpful for me to remember the real life examples of the way our focus determines our experience and even has an influence on future outcomes. Yoga gives us ample opportunities to practice these principles before putting them into action in other areas of our lives. Getting into an arm balance is scary. You’re quite likely to fall down the first few times you try. But if we focus on that fear or how it feels to fall and hurt ourselves, we’re never going to master bakasana! Focus on what’s in front of you. Focus on where you want to be or what you want to see happen. If you focus on falling you’re going to fall or perhaps never let yourself try in the first place.
Realizing and reminding myself that my focus on fear is not helping me to avoid it, but instead propelling me toward it, is exactly where I need to begin. Normally when I contemplate shifting my thoughts to the positives and letting go of my anxiety about any given situation, I become afraid that by not looking at the scary bits, they’ll sneak up on me or something. It’s like trying to keep your eyes on a spider at the corner of your room so that it won’t suddenly appear on your arm. But what if staring at that spider was an invitation for it to come over to you? You’d probably keep yourself busy with whatever you’re doing and leave it alone.
It’s time for me to start giving my energy to the good things in life that I want to create, not the parts that I want to avoid. If I focus on the good, I’ll naturally move past or through the obstacles in due time. When I let myself focus on only the scary parts of life, that is all I’m going to experience, whether my fears come to fruition or not. I’ll have already lived the worst of them out in my mind anyway. It’s okay to let myself think about the good things that might happen too or the things I hope will happen. It’s safe to let myself be happy. It’s safe to imagine a future full of positivity and light. In fact, that’s the first step towards manifesting that future.
silencing the inner chatter to hear the soft hum of celestial wisdom lifting myself above the tumultuous tides of my own mistaken mind finding stillness in the radio static of consciousness to tune in to the salient source of everything surrendering the obsession for contemplating complex patterns in favor of opening to the energy trying to be channeled in life's challenge is a sweet irony a call to remember what we are amidst the chaos of time and space to pause long enough to transcend them humbling ourselves to the unknowable truth to trust in forces we cannot control to be guided by an unseen hand down a foggy, confused path learning to mirror the beauty of faith reflected back in the eyes of the innocent by the joyous confidence of children and small beings with blindly open hearts our trust will not be betrayed only the temptation to doubt will mislead us even so we are never lost only learning new lessons
Why do I see this body as the limits of my container the pieces of matter that comprise me continue on into the cosmos even the air between you and I is saturated with shifting energy carrying currents of information through supposed emptiness connection is everywhere I look from the veins and tissues of this body to the veins of mycelium and root systems underground to the streams and rivers snaking across the earth the illusion of separation is still poignant somehow despite the new science that shows we are one could I learn to feel beyond this form? can I lift the veil of this life? to recognize myself in all that I see is to relinquish this unruly fear of reality freedom is remembering a fate intertwined uncovering a deep compassion for all of existence To love myself is to love the world to love the world is to love myself we are inextricably intertwined we are one in the same