When The Soul Moves

We tend to distrust these feelings and avoid them at all costs because we are scared of being uprooted. We need to lose this fear.

Pema Chödrön, Living Beautifully

Whenever I think of you my soul moves. Not just one, but very few of you and I’m open to more coming.

Perhaps you know what I mean? Your soul can move with your mate or it can move suddenly and out of place.

In my experience, when the soul moves it’s startling.

I’ve heard parents say the soul moves for a son or daughter. Twins who say their souls move in tandem.

However it appears, know it’s the soul moving inside you.

Focus on form rather than time or speed.

Focus on the now rather than eternity.

The soul conditions you to surrender to your hunger for food.

On a much larger scale, the soul opens your eyes to truth.

I have feared the soul, its ebb and its flow. The soul is mischievous and breeds in darkness.

The soul is a sublime piece of cake in a world where we count calories.

The soul can feel sneaky and disarming and I worry about gluttony.

It’s not wrong to pay attention to the movement of your soul because  you will want more.

Become aware and you’ll be alright.

Choose the soul and you’ll be satisfied.

But know this. When the soul moves, tears fall. The life of calories ends.

That is why we need soul stretching exercises. Learn how restlessness and uneasiness are stages of the journey.

We need to practice leaning in to the soul’s yearnings and loving unconditionally.

We need schools that teach a course on the workings of the soul so we can track its course and discover the treasure.

 

 

Rely on Your Strength

As we move into the next phase of recovery, many of us are suffering from anxiety. I think it’s because we know it’s time to move forward but we don’t know what to expect. We also can’t be sure that we’re not going to cause more harm to ourselves or to others. My morning meditation evoked a memory that boosted my spirit and I thought I’d share the story.

Several years ago, a friend and I went on a trip to Puerto Rico. While sitting on the beach sipping a drink, we stared at a small island in the distance. We were both about to turn 40, so we began tossing around the idea of whether or not we could reach that island by swimming.

Behind us, there was a small kiosk selling an assortment of beach items including snorkeling gear. The sales clerk was quite friendly. We inquired about the distance and she rented us the equipment easily.

We stood on the edge of the water and put on the black goggles and positioned the mouth piece. I was looking forward to scuba diving, like in the movies. I teased my friend, she punched my arm and we started our journey. Within seconds of my face hitting the water, I knew the goggles were tight and overwhelming. The mouth piece felt enormous. It wasn’t a very good feeling at all.

My friend took the lead and slowly, I got the hang of it. I kept my thoughts steady. I was careful not to let water get into the tube. I didn’t like the sound of my breathing, but I carried on. At one point, my friend turned around and gave me a thumbs up. A few silvery fish swam by. They were so small and curious.

About twenty-five minutes into our journey, I accidentally ducked my head too far under water causing trouble with my mouth tube. The gurgling sound alarmed me and I realized I was about to inhale some water. I had to stop swimming and empty the tube out. How was I going to do this while floating simultaneously? The idea worried me. I always struggled juggling two things at one time. I bounced to the top and got on with this strange maneuver. Meanwhile, my friend swam ahead. She had no idea that I had stopped. In the midst of all this, I looked up to take stock of our distance. The island appeared so far away. How was that possible, I wondered, we had been non-stop swimming? It dawned on me that we had veered off with the current.

My heart beat quickened and I felt my body weight. I started to doggie paddle while desperately trying to get my mask back down over my face. Regrettably, the inside of the goggles had steamed up and the mouth piece was still burbling. That’s when I lost it and began to go under. More water poured inside my equipment so when I opened my eyes and tried to breathe, it became agonizing. I was really panicking now. I realized I could drown right there. They’d find my swollen body floating in the great in-between.

The water was relentless. The silver fish, adorable just a minute ago, looked like piranhas. To my left a monstrous coral reef. I had to do something quick. I finally yanked off the mouth piece and goggles and tossed them into the water and now free, I swam my way to the top and gasped for air.

Thankfully my friend was nearby. She had seen me lag behind and had come back to fetch me. Both our heads were bobbing in the water, my eyes red and my breathing heavy.

“You alright?” She called out.

“No,” I stammered. “I can’t make it.”

“Try to relax. You can make it. Where’s your gear?”

“I tossed it. I was getting an anxiety attack. I can’t breathe with it on.”

She turned and looked at the island. “We’re not that far,” she said but looked worried.

“I think I’ll just swim now. I’m good at that.”

“Alright. I’ll stay close. Let me know if you need me.”

Screen Shot 2020-06-22 at 3.00.45 PMSuddenly, I remembered that I was a pretty good swimmer. In fact, I was awesome at the back stroke. I felt a burst of energy and began to move quickly. I flipped over on my back and within seconds, I felt my body glide ahead at a vigorous speed. My arms moved effortlessly through the water like oars. The strength returned to my legs. I didn’t stop and I didn’t think— I just sped through the water straight.

After some time, I turned over and slowed down to look where I was. The island was just a few meters away. I swam until I hit land. When I stepped out of the water, I looked for my friend who was close behind. I couldn’t believe we had made it. We fell hard onto the white, sandy beach and looked up at the sky. Then, we laughed.

“You scared the shit out of me,” my friend said.

“Me too,” I said, shaking my head. “I don’t know what happened. I just freaked out. I couldn’t breathe. That stupid snorkeling equipment just wasn’t working for me.”

“Well, you didn’t need it. You were amazing once you let go and relied on your back stroke.”

 

If you’re wondering what mindfulness is really about

Mindfulness is really about love. Love and creativity. I know these are foolish, simple words these days, but sometimes it’s that worn out picture book in the library that speaks truth… generation after generation.

When we choose the practice of mindfulness coupled with a daily, contemplative discipline like meditation, we are cultivating our capacity to love. Mindfulness is love in action, so to speak. Learning to love yourself and love others. It is really very simple.

The three essential components of mindfulness are Time, Space and Energy. Mindfulness education is about learning the function and interrelationship between each of these three alchemies.

Time. When we give anything in life a regular dose of sanctioned time, we communicate value, concern, and care. We spend time with those we love, we spend time with our life’s work. The amount of time we give or receive radically transforms our perspective. Over time we grow old and wise. When we are present, time is eternity.

Space. When we provide ample space for something unknown to exist, we are opening the door of possibility. When we are full or constrained whether it be physically or in thought, there is no room for novelty and expansion. When we declutter the space, starting with our mind, we are inviting the whole world in.

Energy. Life requires energy. We learn to metabolize energy wisely in order to survive. Choosing a natural source of energy is best, because it doesn’t cause harm to yourself, others or the planet. Through sustained focus and understanding the field of energy that connects us to the earth and each other, we increase our life potential.

Mindfulness is about putting our best nature to work for us. It’s a very fair and equitable practice because we are all equipped with the tools we need. In teaching and learning, we can give the gift of time to our students. We can create space and novelty by doing right brain activities. We can help children become aware of energy and point out how we can communicate with each other without speaking.

We don’t often hear that we are learning how to put love into action when we practice mindfulness. We’ve been socialized to believe that love is too subjective and non-academic. Do we really need love to teach? Do we need love to succeed? Yet, when we really think about it, love is central to every exceptional school and every exceptional family. We learn how to love ourselves and take care of our bodies, we  learn how to interact with others with respect and compassion, we work together to keep our environment safe, healthy and happy.

When a teacher says “I love my students,” what is she saying exactly? Do we question her integrity? Do we think she is lacking? Perhaps we wonder if so much love has made her biased and we question if she can assess her students’ performance accurately. These are all important questions.

Mindfulness can be a self serving, egotistical practice if we get too absorbed in it. It is possible to lose clarity and balance, like when we are infatuated. This is part of the human condition and the universe is very clever! So, yes, we must be careful and vigilant about mindfulness. We need to question what we are doing and ask if our actions demonstrate love in action. We must remain innocent and open.

Making a commitment to a guided contemplative practice such as meditation can help.  When we engage in silent reflection regularly we allow our mindfulness practice to evolve and grow with deeper awareness. It is also a good idea to share your experience with others so that you can see the world as one whole. Sometimes we need each other to see and understand our surroundings more clearly.

Mindfulness is about love and creativity. It really is that simple. Sometimes foolish, simple words are all we need.

love