Paradise Awaits

simonelipscomb (7)

Adult Bald Eagle. Image taken last winter in Florida

I glanced up as an eagle snatched a fish from the water and flew away. Did I just see that? I thought to myself. Ospreys are common companions on the river but a bald eagle? I was ecstatic! As I glided in raptor-bliss a snowy egret flew overhead and then a brown pelican nearly collided with me as his six foot wing span overshadowed my SUP board. “Dude!” I said aloud. Smiling, I paddled on.

Crisp air and clear blue skies, filled with beautiful birds, felt like paradise. The entire four miles was one continuous flow of beauty–an experience that opened my heart with awe and gratitude.

Osprey...image taken in Florida last winter

Osprey…image taken in Florida last winter

The river time started with huge schools of juvenile mullet circling and moving together as my board gently glided through their watery home. The water was so clear I could see them glancing up at me as I paddled. Occasionally one of their scales would sparkle in the morning sun and this display of rainbow light caused giggles to explode from my core. Precious life. Sacred life. So holy, so amazing.

simonelipscomb (4)As I paddled downriver alligator gars surfaced to breathe, turtles sunned on logs, floating pelicans carefully watched my antics. Quietness, stillness was so evident–so appreciated by this soul. When the bald eagle caught my attention by grabbing a meal, I was already blissed-out as just a few minutes earlier an osprey had passed overhead with a fish. Life was evident with every turn of my head.

The paddling meditation continued as I moved further downriver. Reaching with each stroke of the paddle, engaging my core, pulling myself to the paddle blade as it resisted the water, I felt my physical core engage like never before. Training in the Pure Barre classes I take has helped me learn to isolate core muscles and work to strengthen them. Applying what I learn in the studio to my stand up paddle board workouts feels amazing. A light bulb flashed overhead.

simonelipscomb (8)It was easy to see the parallel between fitness endeavors and life’s journey. By applying something I learned in a studio class to my SUP boarding, I saw how my work paid off on the river. Each stroke produced an explosion of forward momentum. Likewise, when I explore my inner life by going deeper into my emotional core, I clear out and heal old wounds thus leading to big leaps of forward momentum in life.

When we gain courage to go deeper, work deeper, the payoff is greater awareness, greater freedom. This morning I was able to see beauty and allow it to go deep within to touch my most vulnerable self. Had I been focused on worries and fretting about anything I would have missed the tremendous blessing of abundant life along the river.

simonelipscomb (3)Pema Chodron writes, ” The armor we erect around our soft hearts causes a lot of misery. This shield, this cocoon is just made up of thoughts that we churn out and regard as solid. In fact, this shield is made out of passing memory.” These passing memories of things that happened in the past can close us to life. As she writes, “Compassion for others begins with kindness to ourselves.” No matter what struggles and disappointments we have experienced on our life’s journey, only by choosing to let go of these painful memories can we lighten up. Letting go of ego, of the storyline of being wounded, helps us move into the present moment, the only place where happiness is found, the only place where paradise awaits.

 

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