Tag: Eco-Spirituality

Home in the Sky

Home in the Sky

Arriving just before sunset….

Sometimes it’s easy to dwell in the littleness of life…or even get stuck there. When we feel stress or anxiety the tendency is to curl up in our little space with a blanket and binge-watch crappy television. At least that’s what I do sometimes. As the mind focuses on the chaos of (fill in the ______) it seems safer to be small because the chaos feels so big.

The Perseid Meteor event pulled me out of my little bubble and an amazing gift unfolded as I found myself immersed in the present–not in my head chasing mental rabbits down endless holes.

Friends of mine have a beach house in a relatively dark section of beach and they allow me to go there to photograph the night sky. Last evening found me standing in white, soft sand wondering if the heavy cloud cover would remain as darkness fell. “I came here to see meteors,” I exclaimed.

Maybe it was the polite way I asked for a window to see stars or just a weird beach phenomena….but a pathway to the stars opened and a bank of clouds held just east of Mars to allow viewing of the vast night sky.

After tiring of standing and craning my neck with the tripod, I adjusted the legs to a short extension and laid on the sand under the tripod. With my cable release wrapped around a tripod leg, I could lay on my back, watch stars, take long exposures and adjust the settings from a most relaxed point of view.

Taking long exposures with my camera always brings me to a place of stillness as 20, 25, 30 seconds pass. I can’t move or walk away….just have to stand (or in my case laying) in stillness as the heavens expand overhead.

There was one amazing shooting star with a bright sprinkle of star dust that trailed over the Gulf of Mexico and there were smaller ones that zipped quickly through the night sky…and that was amazing. But the real show for me was the Milky Way as it emerged from the darkening sky.

The Earth Mother supported me in my rest and opening to the endless depths of space and stars and I felt layers of worries fall away as I focused on the bigness of the Universe. Bigness….such an understatement.

By surrendering to something greater than me, I found profound peace. Allowing the depth of the Universe to touch me and awaken me, I found home again….in the sky….in myself….beyond….beyond….beyond.

Cow Yoga

Cow Yoga

It was still dark as I stepped on to the front screened porch. Buddy and two of my cat pals joined me as I lit candles, unrolled the mat and started a soothing playlist of music. The intention of the practice today…cultivating inner peace.

It was over half an hour into my practice when I began to notice dark shapes on the ground in the nearby pasture. I wondered if it was the cows but couldn’t tell. Gradually a possible cow head appeared…or was it the bush at the fence-line? Was that a baby?

I continued with excitement as the pre-dawn light went from dark gray to light gray and finally to pale yellow. As the light intensified there was no doubt. Cows and their calves had participated in my yoga practice this morning. I had no idea until the light exposed the treasure.

Through each asana I held the intention of peace in my own mind and heart and felt that magnified with my yoga pals…my dog, cats and a herd of beautiful cows.

After completing my practice or perhaps as a final extension of Shavasana, I visited the cows and thanked them for helping cultivate peace and for showing me magnificent treasures that await in the Unknown, in the darkness…where sometimes we are too afraid to look.

It was a very moooooving experience.

A Grieving Planet

A Grieving Planet

Tahlequah gave birth July 24 to a calf who only lived one half-hour. Since then, she has been carrying her baby for a week, refusing to let go. This grieving ritual is being witnessed by her pod….and the world. She’s become the focus of our collective grief that goes far beyond her baby’s death. Tahlequah is the matriarch leading us all in a planetary grief ritual.

J-Pod is starving. Not enough salmon. Orcas–endangered whales– this pod has become another reminder of the crisis in which we find ourselves.

Loggerhead Hatchling

Each of us is alive at this time to bear witness to this decline in global well-being of all life and health. Overpopulation of humans stretches resources to a breaking point coupled with reckless exploitation of fossil fuels and use of toxic chemicals…no need to review the many ways humans are failing our own life support system.

For too long we have viewed this sacred Earth as a resource to exploit. Surely we cannot be surprised at the rapid changes created by our careless behaviors.

Many of us feel helpless as we stand witness to an administration that values money and power with absolutely no regard to compassion and love–the very basic tenants of what the great masters have taught us. The empathic ones are especially suffering because we feel the intense suffering of many species, including humans.

So what can we do?

I suggest that instead of turning away from our pain and grief we join Tahlequah as she mourns. Shed tears for her loss, the loss of salmon that feed her pod, pollutants they carry in their bodies, health of humans in decline, separation of children from families, polar bears loss of vital hunting ice, penguins loss of snow, sea turtles and manatees dying of toxic red tide, out-of-control forest fires destroying many areas of the planet, plastic pollution….

Increase practices that help maintain balance….walks in nature, yoga, prayer, meditation, drumming, singing, dancing, creating art.

Join with others to strengthen these efforts. Connecting with others of like-mind and intention is a powerful antidote to the feeling of helplessness. For example, the drum circle that meets at my home has increased our meeting frequency to help us through this challenging time.

Stop watching the news and read it from a trusted source (such as NPR). Unplug from social media one day a week (or more). Refrain from practicing hate and stop giving your energy to those in power who thrive on attention…any kind of attention.

When you feel despair at the state of the world remember there are others who feel it, too. There are others whose hearts are breaking with sadness over Tahlequah’s loss and cry when they see an injured bird or a lost dog or cat. Or who mourn the loss of species, decline in ocean health….Reach out to others. Join together in compassion and love. Work together.

Celebrate beauty! Let us be mindful of this amazing, profound beauty still abounding even as species die and other landscapes crumble. Rejoicing in what is still beautiful cultivates appreciation that ripples outward from your heart and mind to others. Share beauty on social media and express it through art, writing, dancing, speaking…let us help each other remember.

Mostly importantly, please remember you are not alone in your grief and sadness…and outrage. As we cultivate unity and the qualities of compassion and love I suspect the shifts we have longed for will emerge. Every other way has failed….perhaps its time to give peace a chance*…. and love….and compassion. The reign of anger and hatred is over only when we choose something different.

*John Lennon….Give Peace a Chance. All we are saying is give peace a chance. All we are saying is give peace a chance.

 

Going Deeper

Going Deeper

It seems the entire world has come together to help a group of Thai boys and their coach who are trapped in a flooded cave. Prayers without regard for religion, assistance without regard for invisible country borders…a true coming together without being thwarted by our differences.

So my question, dear humans, is this: why does it take a disaster such as this to bring us together?

This event is a teacher to us all. We can work together. We can set aside differences of color, belief, location, social status and learn how to work together on a D A I L Y basis…as we might say morning prayers or practice morning yoga. What if we added a simple practice each morning to show our willingness to love openly, freely and without condition.

That sounds easy. But what that involves is going deep into ourselves and excavating the beliefs we hold, the prejudices we practice and these aren’t always on the surface. Some of our biggest blocks to love are buried far down in our subconscious mind.

The metaphor of the cave has touched me deeply. Partly because I am a cave diver and partly because I have spent decades diving deep within myself to find clear water and space from which I can love more fully and more unconditionally.

A video from the beginning of yesterday’s rescues showed the technically difficult environment. The rescuers are climbing, diving, wading, swimming…whatever it takes to accomplish their mission.

Can you imagine how wonderful it was to see those first four boys emerge? The joy and excitement was a wave that wrapped around the entire planet. That’s what love can do.

And today, another four were rescued…another wave of love that surely must have touched even those not consciously aware of the source. What courage it takes to return through that difficult maze of dangerous passages knowing how exhausting and challenging physically and mentally it would be. But the reward…those precious children and their coach being brought into light once again…was worth it.

Most of us would never be able to perform such a rescue in the depths of the earth with rushing water and low oxygen levels and mud and steep climbs. But each of us are given the opportunity to learn to love without condition, to love without judgement….or prejudice….or religious bias…but the catch is this: we must be willing to explore our inner ‘cave’ or inner realm where all our hurts and pains are found, where we store the teachings taught to us regarding people different from us. Many people turn back when they hit inner blocks to love. The desire to feel ‘safe’ is many times stronger than the desire to clear away everything that keeps our true self from shining through.

So how does one make it through the scary parts of the journey?

I suspect that if any kids were able to survive nine days with little food or hope and remain calm enough to exit a flooded cave, it is these children. First, they had a coach with them–someone whose job it was to help them function as a team. And then, meditation is part of their upbringing and spiritual practice. Simply put….learning to calm the mind is a foundation they learn at an early age. I suspect their coach worked with them to practice their meditation skills as they awaited their fate. And in cave diving the most important ability, in my view, is knowing how to remain calm in stressful situations. More than anything, that skill will lead these children and their coach to safety.

Everyone involved in this operation is a teacher for the world. The kids and coach remind us to stay calm and use a daily practice to keep our minds stable and focused. The rescue cave divers give us such an incredible teaching about courage and love that is powerful and strong. The thousands of people involved in setting pipes and pumps, providing food and shelter for rescue workers, donating equipment, helping rig the cave, providing technical expertise….each of these individuals teach us that when we work together in love we can literally perform miracles. And the rest of us sending prayers, love, light and support through our focused minds are hearts…we, too are part of the team.

Are we willing to dive deep to learn to love?

I want to dedicate this post to Saman Gunan, who gave his life during this operation. Everyone doing this work knows the risks and they do it to help, to save lives….and for love.

 

(All photos from on-line images, except the one with watermark which was taken by the author in a cave in Mexico).