This, too.

When I first began meditation and mindfulness practice in earnest, I set as a reason/intention for practice these three things:

to unravel the causes of negativity
to cultivate equanimity
to grow in kindness

As time has passed, these intentions have remained my primary motivation for spiritual practice. This year, I am focusing on the second of these – cultivating equanimity. To aid in this endeavor, my mantra for this year is, “this, too.” It is from this sentence: “I accept unconditionally the unfolding of this present moment in whatever form it takes – this, too, is allowed and accepted.” This, too. As life unfolds each day, as each experience blossoms, I can choose to take a breath and remind myself. This, too.

I’ve been reading about the bodhichitta practices to awaken and nurture open-heartedness. One of the teachings is about the “Four limitless qualities”. These are: loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. These are all qualities that bloom out of my life when I have nurtured a level of well-being. One of the bodhichitta practices is Metta. This is a prayer of sorts, spoken over myself first and then those I love, those I feel neutral about, those I struggle with, and ultimately all beings. Here are a couple of examples of metta that I incorporate into my meditation practice.

May I feel nurtured and loved.
May I be peaceful and content.
May my body provide me with strength.
May my life unfold like a flower in the sun.

May I feel protected and safe.
May I be contented and pleased.
May my body provide me with strength.
May my life unfold smoothly, with ease.

The last line of the metta has been echoing strongly lately. May my life unfold smoothly, with ease. It is slowly dawning on me that this has little to do with the circumstances – rather it is coming to a place of rest and ease in ALL circumstances. Asking for ease isn’t about asking for a break from the unrelenting challenges but rather asking for the expansion of my heart/mind that allows all things with the same open heart and peaceful mind. It is saying an unconditional “yes” to all of life as it unfolds, learning to surf the waves of samsara.

This, too. To dwell in equanimity is to be free from attachment and aversion. This, too. This small happiness, this moment of sorrow, this anxiety, this gratitude. All of it. All of life with its sorrows and joys, paddling toward that wonderful shore of “no preference”, where each moment is welcomed and cherished equally.

We all – each of us – will encounter illness, old age, loss, and death. Equanimity isn’t about escaping the challenges but about opening our hearts to what is difficult with equal measure of the joys of this precious life.

“The everyday practice is simply to develop a complete acceptance and openness to all situations and emotions, all to all people, experiencing everything totally without mental reservations and blockages, so that one never withdraws or centralizes into oneself.” ~Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

george christakis2

At the Moment

joanne rose bird

Suddenly, I stopped thinking about Love,
after so many years of only that,
after thinking that nothing else mattered.

And what was I thinking of when I stopped
thinking about Love? Death, of course – what else
could take Love’s place? What else could hold such force?

I thought about how far away Death once
had seemed, how unexpected that it could
happen to someone I knew quite well,

how impossible that this should be the
normal thing, as natural as frost and
winter. I thought about the way we’d aged,

how skin fell into wrinkles, how eyes grew
dim; then (of course) my love, I thought of you.

~ Joyce Sutphen
art ~ Joanne Rose

crushing certainty

 The more I’ve learned in my life, the more acutely I’ve felt my hunger and blindness, and at the same time the closer I’ve felt to the end of hunger, the end of blindness.

At times I’ve felt myself to be clinging onto the rim – of what I can hardly say without the risk of sounding ridiculous – only to slip and find myself deeper in the hole than ever.

And there, in the dark, I find again in myself a form of praise for all that continues to crush my certainty.  ~  Nicole Krauss


The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.’ —Luke 3.3-4


Strange how one word
will so hollow you out.
But this word
has been in the wilderness
for months.

This word is what remained
after everything else
was worn away
by sand and stone.
It is what withstood
the glaring of sun by day,
the weeping loneliness of
the moon at night.

Now it comes to you
racing out of the wild,
eyes blazing
and waving its arms,
its voice ragged with desert
but piercing and loud
as it speaks itself
again and again:

Prepare, prepare.

It may feel like
the word is leveling you,
emptying you
as it asks you
to give up
what you have known.

It is impolite
and hardly tame,
but when it falls
upon your lips
you will wonder
at the sweetness,

like honey
that finds its way
into the hunger
you had not known
was there.

~Jan Richardson

Dive deep into love


Love comes with a knife, not some
shy question, and not with fears
for its reputation! I say
these things disinterestedly. Accept them
in kind. Love is a madman

working his wild schemes, tearing off his clothes,
running through the mountains, drinking poison,
and now quietly choosing annihilation.

You’ve been walking the ocean’s edge,
holding up your robes to keep them dry.
You must dive naked under and deeper under,
a thousand times deeper! Love flows down.

The ground submits to the sky and suffers
what comes. Tell me, is the earth worse
for giving in like that?

Don’t put blankets over the drum!
Open completely. Let your spirit-ear
listen to the green dome’s passionate murmur.

Let the cords of your robe be untied.
Shiver in this new love beyond all
above and below. The sun rises, but which way
does night go? I have no more words.

Let soul speak with the silent
articulation of a face.

–Jelalludin Rumi 1207 – 1273
Coleman Barks version

it hurts

later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
and whispered
where does it hurt?

it answered
– Warsan Shire

The Summer Day ~ Mary Oliver

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?


Stealing a Glance

What cost, your gaze?
You steal my likeness from me, make it yours
All those hours, all those years
I’ve thought and shaped
And chosen and acted
And not acted
To become me
And you glance at me
So easily
So lightly
Stealing my image away into yourself
Beyond my reach
And you walk away
And you think you know
But you do not know
And you cannot know
And I would tear out your eyes
And take it back
If I could

~A. Scott White

Joanne rose
Joanne rose

opening to this one moment

Walk Slowly

It only takes a reminder to breathe,
a moment to be still, and just like that,
something in me settles, softens, makes
space for imperfection. The harsh voice
of judgment drops to a whisper and I
remember again that life isn’t a relay
race; that we will all cross the finish
line; that waking up to life is what we
were born for. As many times as I
forget, catch myself charging forward
without even knowing where I’m going,
that many times I can make the choice
to stop, to breathe, and be, and walk
slowly into the mystery.
~ Danna Faulds

Finally, after decades of start/stop efforts to have a regular meditation practice, I have found my way. I guess I’m a slow learner. I can’t put into words the difference this is already making in my life. It has freed me, slipped into my every moment, opened my heart, and given clarity to what were foggy perceptions. In short, it has changed me from the inside out. Just a few short moments sitting in awareness, just the kind intention to befriend myself, just the non-judgmental noticing of my thoughts. I look forward now to those few moments of quiet, kind awareness. These few moments transform me, working outward to transform all of the moments in my day. I sense a shifting of my default mode from numbness and forgetfulness into mindfulness and engagement. I feel such gratitude.

come dance

The 14th-century Persian poet Hafiz wrote:

Every child has known God,

Not the God of names,

Not the God of don’ts,

Not the God who ever does anything weird,

But the God who knows only four words,

And keeps repeating them, saying:

“Come Dance with Me.”

Come Dance