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Sunday, June 24 2018

 

Human Meets Divine

 

         I’ve been planning to share a passage or two from a book by Lorin Roche, The Radiance Sutras, a poetic and contemporary translation/interpretation of Vijnana Bhairava Tantra – a sacred Hindu text of tantric meditations, honoring human sensory and sensual experience as a doorway to divine connection.  I’ve been touched deeply by the power and beauty of so many of the Sutras and have been puzzling about which to share with you.

 

         Last night, I hosted a fondue dinner for a small group of dear old friends.  Our meal lasted nearly 6 hours.  With fondue forks in hand, we speared morsels of meat and various vegetables, cooked them in pots of boiling aromatic vegetable broth and dipped them in one of several spicy, flavorful sauces. 

 

         The leisurely pace of the fondue meal allowed us time to savor the fragrances and flavors and textures of each bite and to enjoy the laughter and lively conversation that peppered our main course, sweetened our dessert and energized the time in between.  Dessert featured a warm, candle-heated, creamy, dark chocolate fondue sauce, in which we dipped strawberries and bananas - and which, as the evening ended, we spooned over Haagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream.

 

         Remembering last night’s delights and re-reading the Sutras today made my decision much easier.  Here are Sutras 72, 73 and 74.

 

 

                           Sutra 72

 

         Tasting dark chocolate,

         A ripe apricot,

         A luscious elixir –

         Savor the expanding joy in your body.

         Nature is offering herself to you.

         How astonishing

         To realize this world can taste so good.

 

         When sipping some ambrosia,

         Raise your glass,

         Close your eyes,

         Toast the Universe.

         The Sun and Moon and Earth

         Danced together

         To bring you this delight.

         Receive the nectar on your tongue

         As a kiss of the divine.

 

 

                           Sutra 73

 

 

         All around you, in every moment,

         The world is offering a feast for your senses.

         Songs are playing,

         Tasty food is on the table,

         Fragrances are in the air,

         Colors fill the eyes with light.

 

         You who long for union,

         Attend this banquet with loving focus.

         The outer and inner worlds

         Open to each other.

         Oneness of vision, oneness of heart.

 

         Right here, in the midst of it all,

         Mount that elation, ascend with it,

         Become identical

         With ecstatic essence

         Embracing both worlds.

 

 

                           Sutra 74

 

         Wherever, whenever you feel carried away,

         Rejoicing in every breath,

         There, there is your meditation hall.

 

         Cherish these times of absorption –

         Rocking the baby in the silence of the night,

         Pouring water into a crystal glass,

         Tending the logs in a crackling fire,

         Sharing a meal with a circle of friends.

         Embrace these pleasures and know,

         “This is my true body.”

 

         Nowhere is more holy than this.

         Right here is the sacred pilgrimage.

         Live in alertness for such a moment, my Beloved,

         As if it were your one meeting with the Creator.

 

 

Embodied, present, here, now – human meets divine!

Posted by: AT 11:57 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Sunday, June 17 2018

The Vitality of Mindful Presence

 

         I recently finished an extraordinary certificate training in mindfulness.  I needed the CEU’s, I needed the break, and I needed a few days of meditative practice in a beautiful setting with delicious, healthy food and like-minded folk – all of which I got.  What I did not anticipate were the powerful learnings that awaited me.  Here are two related ones.

 

         By way of background, I’ve known for some time that being embodied in the present moment is a good thing.  For me, embodiment has been a work in progress.  I tend to hang out in my head, often caught up in imaginary conversations, past regrets and future frets.

 

         Late into the retreat, we had a day of silence – which I approached with the general intention to stay present and no specific plans for how to do so.  At breakfast, I found myself staring at my bowl of food for several minutes before taking a bite. The textures and colors of the granola, berries and yogurt seemed unusually vibrant.  The first mouthful, slowly and deliberately taken, exploded in a burst of flavor as I bit into it.

 

         Lunch was a similar experience, but even more profound.  Again, I was amazed and mesmerized by the beauty on my plate – the lush and varied greens of lettuce leaves, sauteed asparagus and poblano peppers, the soft browns of the pinto beans, the fragrant basmati rice, the many hues and shades in the generous dollop of guacamole, the topping of pumpkin seeds – each seed uniquely sized and shaped, each subtly different in color.  Across from my big plate, was a smaller dish with one giant, ripe organic strawberry dipped in dark chocolate and garnished with a delicate drizzle of bright white sweetness. 

 

         Despite my watering mouth, I was in no hurry to start eating.  At that moment, the feast was primarily visual.  Mind empty, I sat transfixed for many minutes before taking a first bite.  Each forkful was slow and deliberate, with long pauses in between, as all my senses savored the delights before me.

 

         One lesson for me in all this was the “wow” of focused and spacious attention.  The power of my surrender to full engagement was much stronger than similar experiences in the past.  I felt joyful and alive and serene. 

 

         The second, more powerful lesson came with the shift that occurred – maybe 45 minutes into lunch when my plate was still half full.  I became aware that I’d left the present moment.  I was still gazing at my food, but my mind was elsewhere, engaged in an imaginary conversation.  That’s when I noticed that the vivid colors on my plate were noticeably duller, dimmer, more drab.  During the rest of my meal, vibrant intensity returned with mindful presence and departed when mind wandered. 

 

         What a difference!  The knowing that had been theoretical suddenly became very real for me.  The connection between mindful presence and vitality of life had never been clearer.

Posted by: AT 04:22 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, June 02 2018

Discomfort Dread

 

      I’ve noticed, in myself and in my clients, a tendency to treat uncomfortable feelings as if they were a threat or a problem that needs to be fixed – a sign that somehow we’re spiritually lacking or flunking mental health.  We get adversarial with ourselves – moving automatically toward analysis of “what’s wrong,” in an effort to defeat “the problem” and control how we feel.

 

         I wonder about a gentler, more spacious, more peaceful approach to our inner discomfort - an alternative to the tyranny of self-improvement.

 

         I wonder about offering companionship and a compassionate heart – and not so much analysis and judgment – to our experience of discomfort. 

 

         I imagine honoring the feeling - maybe saying:  “Thanks for letting me know.” 

 

         I imagine noticing how the feeling is expressed by tightness or discomfort in the body.  I imagine breathing gently into those physical sensations – sending nurture, kindness, forgiveness, light. 

 

         I imagine listening more deeply to the feeling, appreciating its underlying request.

 

         I imagine remembering that no feeling is permanent, that the natural course of all feelings is to move freely through us.  

 

         Often, we fail to bring this kind of spaciousness to ourselves.  We disregard our feelings or we tighten down on them or get caught up in stories about them or fight with them or try to push them away – all of which only adds to their stubbornness and our suffering.  And all these sufferings, when mindfully noticed, offer new opportunities to practice self-forgiveness and self-compassion.

 

         With practice over time, we learn that no inner experience is beyond our capacity for compassion and companionship.  We deepen friendship with ourselves - and trust.  We discover an inner spaciousness that is larger than any feeling or any problem we could have.   

 

         Discomfort, then, is not so dreaded.

 

 

 

        

Posted by: AT 08:15 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email

 "James has a very welcoming presence and an easy going demeanor in addition to an excellent sense of humor . We are all free to be our own goofy selves."
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