What drove her to buy sixteen bags of 50# stones to begin a rock garden? Couldn’t zen stillness come more easily? Couldn’t she do walking meditation without all this trouble?
It wasn’t until the yard mistress was digging ground for a vegetable garden, putting unwanted rocks aside for some yet to be discerned purpose, that she remembered playing rock store with her brothers and sisters back in the 1950’s. They were storekeepers–independent business kids, trading rocks with one another. In the family driveway, there was merely gravel (seen from a grownup’s point of view) but to them there was beauty in those tiny flecks of color on the stones. Children decided what was beautiful; it was all in the perception. Parents had no say with the stones.
Half a century later, a grownup remembers her fascination with rocks. Of course, she now has a zen reason to justify her longing for a rock garden. There is truly no real need but she is retired and has time to create her own projects. She could use the stones as an excuse for work in her backyard. A rock garden would cut down on mowing. It would be a point of focus from the garden bench. The row of rocks along the back fence could be used for walking meditation. She saw her rock garden forming a microcosm of the creek beyond, with its rocks providing stability for the roar of the water.
Then there is the statue—female, some honored goddess. She believes her to be a form of Kwan Yin. She had been the centerpiece since the house in Northside years ago. She’d been moved from the front to the back, her stone head’s fallen off and been glued back—it hadn’t been the easiest journey for this goddess. Still, she cannot be ignored when one is sitting on the bench: a person comes face to face with her own divine self (it can’t be ignored). Now, besides the circle of stones surrounding the goddess, behind is a landscape of small calico rocks (for that’s what they’re called in their bags at Home Depot).
Working out at Victory Lady surely helped. Even though the 50# bags got wheeled across the yard with a dolly, they still had to be transferred from the car to the ground. Now the yard mistress got in touch with her Amazonian roots. Although she could hardly move the following day, she was grateful for her health to do this work, her rightful place in the universe, and rich material for sharing this story.
Although it’s not Winter Solstice for a few days, you could fool me. I was as excited as a kid to wake up and see the snow. Where I live there are lots of trees. There is a woods behind me and several trees on two sides. Only from the front window do I see a road and a neighbor’s house. The branches on these trees look glorious. That’s a word I don’t use too often. An online dictionary tells me glorious means “characterized by great beauty and splendor.” Yes.
I am not quite a monk but almost. The writing class I was taking and the one I was teaching are over now. All week I have gone out only twice — once to deliver meals and once to get dog bones and wrapping paper. Most of my days consisted of reading, writing, meditation, and keeping up with the outside world through my laptop. It’s hard to be in silence when you live with three dogs. They are spoiled Western dogs but you’d think they were starving on the street the way they act sometimes. Still, they calm down eventually and sometimes I do, too, enough to chant OOOOOOOMMMMMMMM. I like it especially when I awake before it’s light outside. Granted, sometimes I carry my first cup of coffee into my Meditation Room.
I have come to the conclusion lately that I’ve been too hard on myself. If I don’t leap out of bed, eager for an early morning meditation, I’ve failed. I set near impossible standards for myself. I also realize how much I worry about . . . well, lots: money, the future. I find it hard to stay in the present although being retired, I “have” more time to try. I worry about Mr. G with his bladder cancer; he has moved to Pennsylvania in a retirement village close to his son. At 88, he will have to decide whether to risk bladder surgery or “just” do the radiation and chemotherapy. I call him every Friday when I deliver meals and he’s not there. I am a codependent bodhisattva — yet isn’t codependence part of the personality trait of someone who vows to save the world?
I’ve become excruciatingly aware of my Witness and my ego/self. Guess it’s a natural evolution of my life right now. I’ll just keep watching and listening and occasionally I’ll share some of my life here.
Posted in dogs, meditation, nature, retirement, winter
Tagged bladder cancer, bodhisattva, codependence, Meals on Wheels, meditation, snow, winter
Most days I do my OM japa, i.e., I take my 108 beaded necklace and chant OM slowly as I work my way around each bead. My favorite place to do this is on my garden bench. Then I get the additional joy of hearing birds and other sounds of nature. Sometimes, though, I actually meditate in my Meditation Room. I am fortunate enough to have a home with enough space to have a room set aside for my puja [altar] to the Siddha Yoga lineage, including my guru Gurumayi. I also have a puja to my mother who recently passed from this earth March 2007. Many of my sacred books as well as my spiritual journal are kept in this room.
For seven years (more or less), I meditated the Buddhist way (mostly zen but also vipassana). This way recommended that your eyes be open but not looking, either at a wall or a spot on the carpet. You chanted nothing, only watched your thoughts float by. You could count your breath or just breathe. The goal was emptiness. Nothing added.
The Siddha Yoga way has you chanting the mantra Om Namah Shivaya (or So’ham). Om Namah Shivaya means “I bow to my Inner Self/I bow to the Lord (Shiva).” So’ham means “I Am That.” We close our eyes. Now, when I was meditating the Zen way, we were informed that closing our eyes meant more chances for dreamy reflection which could get in the way. Having done both ways, I prefer closing my eyes. I have sometimes been graced with wonderful visions. I have also been bored. Most of the time, my meditations are something in between. Being in the present is the aim of both traditions. Although ‘just’ sitting peacefully for a half hour or more is perfectly fine, I was amazed to perceive what I call ‘visitations’ of Gurumayi and, a few times, Baba Muktananda.
I want to talk about Baba Muktananda’s book Meditate. Before I found an out-of-print copy to purchase, I had borrowed it from the public library. Later I realized I had received Shakti [awakening of Energy] from touching, reading, and imbibing the words of that book. Reading his words, I went into a state of bliss. It was as if He were speaking to me in the room. Baba has a special way of telling stories. His words remind us of the greatness that we are. He encourages us to remember that we are not separate from the Inner Self and from the Divine. His message is one of great Joy. I love these words from his book, “In meditation, we become the witness of all our states. This is the state of God, of the inner Self, and through meditation we can attain that state because it is within us.”
Again and again, I sit down
to witness the world which is not
separate from the one within me
Posted in 108 poems, bliss, Buddhism, chanting, Gurumayi, meditation, Siddha Yoga
Tagged Baba Muktananda, Gurumayi, japa, meditation, Muktananda, Om, Om Namah Shivaya, Shakti, Siddha Yoga, So'ham
It is approaching midnight. Hours have passed since I went into my meditation room. I did my OM japa then sat in silence. It was dusk when I began and now it is late.
I let the dogs out. Ah, it is nearly full moon! But it is something more . . . I was scanning Baba Muktananda’s book Meditate, then I looked through Meditation Revolution. There is a quote from Gurumayi saying “It doesn’t matter how far away you are. You come in my dream, or you come in my thoughts, or all of a sudden, I hear you calling my name.”
I dreamed of her the other night. When I awoke I had the distinct feeling of being in her presence. There are photos of her several places in my home so not a day goes by that I don’t think of Gurumayi. I wonder if her ears are hurting from all her devotees calling her!
Guru of mine,
finding you has
made my life sublime
Posted in 108 poems, Gurumayi, meditation, Siddha Yoga
Tagged dream, full moon, guru, Gurumayi, meditation, Muktananda, Om, Siddha Yoga
All week I’d been quite busy. So when I went to bed last night, I looked forward to an extended sleep. I had nothing I had to do until Saturday night.
My bedroom window faces east so I usually can’t sleep in much when the brightness of the sun shines in on me. I awoke at 7:00 a.m. and let the dogs out in the back yard. There was a young deer in the woods across from the creek. Not a doe, but young. It was so quiet and camouflaged, I didn’t realize it was there. Only Mia’s frozen stance and upturned tail called my attention to it. It slowly climbed the steep tree-filled hill. Feeling groggy, I decided it was not really going to be the start of my day yet. I lay on the couch for a morning nap.
It felt great! So when I awoke (again) two hours later, I was refreshed. I fed the animals, made my organic decaf, and shuffled out to the garden bench. This was not an ‘official’ meditation although I could call it a ‘nature meditation.’ I spent time listening. How often do we just sit and listen? It was early enough that the mowers and weed whackers were not yet in action. All I heard were birds and an occasional car. This is one of those retirement moments I had waited for. I am very active with organizations and friends but have learned to make sure I ‘schedule’ days off. It seems ironic but it’s true: I must consciously choose to spend time alone.
I know how fortunate I am. For this day, I am grateful.
Tonight I am taking myself on an artist’s date to the May Festival. I want to hear the Verdi opera the Festival is doing. They will perform “Luisa Miller” in concert. Verdi has always been one of my favorites. So I expect that tonight’s poem will be my response to a wonderful musical evening.
Posted in dogs, gratitude, meditation, music, nature, retirement
Tagged deer, gratitude, Luisa Miller, May Festival, meditation, opera, retirement, Verdi
It happened for the second time: I missed a day writing a poem a day. I woke up on my couch, a cat on one side, a dog on the other. Went to bed. So two today.
What to write? The Global Audio Satsang for Baba’s Birthday yesterday? How nine of us celebrated with glorious chanting? How I experienced a great meditation? What does a great meditation consist of anyway? For me, the voices are quieted at least for a little time. I relax and float into Oneness. After all, I was internally chanting OM, the primordial sound. And what a great amrit afterward! I had worked up a hunger and it was satisfied so delightfully.
Later I mowed. Back yard, the partially wild preserve — I used the push mower. Now when I say push mower, I don’t mean gasoline I mean just manually push. Evidently the blades need sharpened. Still the yard is starting to look as if there’s a plan. I have the stone circle, the bench, the little vegetable garden, the compost bin, the wood pile. I have a winding path carved from dog routes and reinforced with mulch. Now I have some low lying grass instead of high growing weeds. My plan is to have more wildflowers by next spring. The backyard is really my place of refuge.
I also mowed some front and side yard. This is with the John Deere riding mower. The third summer and I am still stymied by this piece of machinery. It took several tries to start it (and it’s automatic!). Finally I thought, OK, when I turn the key I’ll wait five seconds like the manual says. Success! What took me so long? For an automatic, it’s more complicated than you might think. But if I start my car without anguish, surely by the end of this summer the mower and I will come to peace. Once I’m in the rhythm of it, I love seeing the instant feedback of mowed rows and the smell of grass. Yes, I even feel powerful riding that horsepower.
Sitting on the deck. Birds are happy. My dogs and cats are, too. I drink homemade lemonade and lazily watch the world.
homemade lemonade & a beautiful day
is this really all I need
to find contentment?
Posted in 108 poems, chanting, meditation, nature, spring
Tagged Baba, cats, chanting, dogs, Global Audio Satsang, John Deere, meditation, Muktananda, riding mower