following the path you can’t see, part 2

A few months back, I wrote about the challenges of following the spiritual path, which more often than not involves long stretches of not being able to see where you’re going or why, climbing and climbing an uphill route with no idea what you’ll find when you get to the top and can finally glimpse the next leg of your journey. Sometimes when you get to the top, you’re no more enlightened: you may find yourself standing at the top of the hill looking down at a fog-filled valley, unyielding and inscrutable.

The curve balls (lessons?) along the way can be jarring and disorienting, making it hard to keep one’s footing and stay on the path—especially the big ones, like divorce or the loss of a job, the ones that really turn your life on its ear and make you wonder, How the hell am I going to get through this, and what is my life going to look like when I do? Continue reading

time warp

I popped in here last night and was surprised to see that I hadn’t posted anything in more than a week—not even a quote du jour. Then again, my schedule the last couple of months has been morning til night, seven days a week (plus a house guest for ten days)—and this coming on top of a 6- to 8-month period that’s been pretty intense emotionally. No sudden, earth-shaking events or anything, just a lot of emotions coming up, recognition of patterns and realizations about my life, about where I’ve been and where I am now and where I want to be. Big life stuff…yet outer things have demanded my attention and left me little time to sit and sort and assimilate these thoughts and feelings.

When I finally got past a big deadline on the 12th (opening night for a show I’d choreographed), it all fell down around me, so to speak. I felt heavy and sad and listless and overwhelmed, depressed and unable to focus. The ice storm and single-digit weather last week didn’t help, keeping me mostly indoors for several days running, layering cabin fever on top of the cloud that was already hanging over me.

Now, ten days later, I’m finally feeling a bit more normal, but there’s still a sense of “Now what? Where do I start? What do I think? How do I feel? How do I sort this all out?” I’ve been pushing hard the last few months, but now that the pushing is over and I have some breathing room, I don’t know how to act.

So…I’m trying to give myself some time to adjust, to find my center (which has been AWOL for some time now) again. I need some long(er) walks in the woods, less time on the computer, more time reading and writing, a lot of time in the garden, and a lot of time just being. I need to find my inner rhythm again, to find the middle ground between fast forward and full stop.

Thanks for your patience in my absence. I am (sort of) back now, and I’ll be posting quotes du jour and sharing random thoughts on a regular basis soon.

the truth about morning ~mark nepo

There is a vastness that quiets the soul. But sometimes we are so squarely
in the midst of life’s forces that we can’t see what we’re a part of.

The truth about morning is that it is the small light of the beginning breaking through, again and again. It is a wisdom so large and clear, one which carries us through our lives so quietly and completely that we seldom see it.

Day after day, we are covered with the dust and grit of what we go through. It tends to weigh us down, and then we think and scheme and problem solve. Then we worry if it will all really work, and if it is the right thing to do. It all makes us dark and cluttered.

But despite our stubbornness of concern, we tire and must turn what has happened over to the hammock of night. This is a good thing. For no matter how unfinished we seem, the letting go into sleep is nothing short of a quiet miracle.

This letting go into sleep is an innate, reflexive form of meditation, no different than a fly rubbing its face or a doe licking its fawn. Sooner or later, without discipline or devotion, despite our resolutions and mistakes, we each must sleep. We must surrender to the quieting of all intent and regret, so that the small light of the beginning can rise in us, again and again.

There is no escaping this profound simplicity: what happens covers us like dirt. It covers our hearts and minds, till, at the shore we call exhaustion, we slip into the waters of sleep in a daily sort of baptism, so we can begin again.

So whenever you feel urgent or overwhelmed, whenever you feel pressed to figure things out or to rethink the unthinkable…rest…so that the endless beginning—which some call the voice of God—might break through what has happened. And you will wake feeling like dawn.

~Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

fringe dwelling

I’m a latecomer to the Eat, Pray, Love party. I bought the book five or six years ago, but didn’t connect with it at the time, so it sat on my shelf (or, more recently, in a box in a storage facility), unread. This is not unusual for me; I’ve often bought books and not read them until later—sometime years later. I’ve come to believe that I read books when it’s the right time for me to read them, and this was certainly the case with Eat, Pray, Love.

Anyway, I began following Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook a few months ago, while I was in my limbo period at my mom’s, waiting for the house in NC to become available. I think someone re-posted a quote/status update of hers that I liked one day, and when I realized she had a page, I thought, “Why not?”

As I read more of her posts, I decided that I rather liked Liz, and suddenly I very much wanted to read her book, so I resolved to do so when I finally got to the new house. Once I’d unearthed it from the mountain of book boxes, I read a bit at a time, which allowed me to mull over things that Liz or ‘Richard from Texas’ or some other person in the book said that struck me. Several times, I found myself wanting to post whole passages from the book here on pathwriter, but kept thinking, maybe later.

Then I read Chapter 69. The tears welled, and a lump rose in my throat, and I knew this was the passage I had to post.

Continue reading

quote du jour ~gilbert – the resting place…

The resting place of the mind is the heart. The only thing the mind hears all day is clanging bells and noise and argument, and all it wants is quietude. The only place the mind will ever find peace is inside the silence of the heart. That’s where you need to go.

~Elizabeth Gilbert; Eat, Pray, Love

to sit or not to sit

So I sat and meditated—really meditated—this morning for the first time in a very long time. I’m way out of practice, and there was some serious monkey mind action going on, but I stuck it out for probably 15 minutes, and I give myself credit both for making the commitment to sit and for lasting even that long, given that my mind was a veritable pinball machine, with my thoughts pinging and dinging across my brain at lightning speed the entire time.

I know the benefits of meditation. When I was married, my husband and I attended two 10-day Vipassana meditation retreats in Massachusetts, and I meditated regularly off and on while we were married. I think my practice began to go by the wayside as the marriage began to fall apart (I know, I know…that was just when I could have used the calm and equanimity that meditation can bring), and though I’ve attempted to re-establish a regular meditation routine numerous times since then, for some reason, I just haven’t been able to get back there. I’ll meditate a day here and there, maybe even for two or three days in a row, but then I let life get in the way, and there it goes again.

But it just so happens I’m reading two books right now, both of which have passages about the authors’ time spent in an ashram and their experiences with the challenges of meditation. I guess the double hit of meditation talk is what finally got me to plunk my derriere down on the cushion this morning, and—in spite of the brevity and restlessness of my sitting this morning, and in spite of the fact that I got way too little sleep last night and was dragging physically today as a result—I did feel the difference. I felt generally more at ease, less overwhelmed by all the changes and adjustments that I’m dealing with as a result of the move.

Will I sit again tomorrow morning? I don’t know. All I can say for sure is that that’s my intention. One day at a time. Step by step. Breath by breath. Sit by sit.

quote du jour ~arrien

I trust the mystery. I trust what comes in silence and what comes in nature where there’s no diversion. I think the lack of stimulation allows us to hear and experience a deeper river that’s constant, still, vibrant, and real. And the process of deep listening with attention and intention catalyzes and mobilizes exactly what’s needed at that time.

~Angeles Arrien

note to self (3)

Just as you tend your garden with care and attention—turning and enriching the soil, pulling the weeds, pruning back deadwood—so, too, must you tend your inner garden, turning and enriching the soil of your soul, pulling the weeds of doubt and fear, pruning back the deadwood of old habits and beliefs that no longer serve you.

Soil that is depleted and lacking in nutrients cannot support the growth of the plants that are placed in it; your soul is the same. You must feed it, give it the elements that will make it a fertile place to grow a life and fulfill your purpose.

Do you know that you are blessed? Of course you do. You see it clearly when you are able to quiet the fear and anxiety. Make the time to go within…and receive guidance. Check in with your body. Return to awareness.

You have been given the gift of time. Receive it. Appreciate it. Let it fill you and bear fruit. It will, if you allow it.

~pathwriter’s guidance journal