Archive for June, 2009

A year and a day

This past weekend we celebrated the Summer Solstice. My friend Jim and I took up the challenge of dedicating a-year-and-a-day to doing the good things in life that increase our personal health and energy.

One major component of health and energy lies in the spiritual. It is the quality of our connections to the land, the people and the gods, that determines the amount of energy we have in life. And this is the mindset in which I took up this vow.

I equate energy with consciousness. So my year ahead is one dedicated to waking up, waking up all my senses so that I can live life as conscious as possible. I know that when I do the work and exercises to wake up, my life is more full of the “good” things in life: joy, purpose, connection, freedom, courage… (It isn’t that life doesn’t have the “negative”, it is that when I am faced with the darker things in life, I find inspiration in them. I don’t shun or fear them. I embrace them fully, moving deeper into the mystery and wonder of life. So I try not to break this down to dualistic concepts of good and bad, positive and negative).

One important premise in in the process of waking up, is to realize that the body isn’t a vessel for consciousness. It is consciousness itself. There is no mind/body separation. Everything I have experienced in life tells me this is so. And as one who doesn’t run on belief, I am using this as a principle from which I operate. So my work begins in the physical. I need to wake up my senses of touch, taste, and smell. I need to get stronger, more fit, more cleansed of the poisons of processed food. I need to move my body. While working out three hours a day at the gym is unnatural, so is sitting in a cube for nine hours a day. My thought is to build natural fitness through body movement, running, jumping, swimming, lifting things up and moving them about – basically all the types of things humans have been doing since we came into being.

Spiritual development is simple. Starting is simple. Basically when I am active and fit, I am more conscious, more awake. When I am more awake, my relationships are better, deeper, and more fulfilling. When I am conscious, finding and stepping into the flow of inspiration in life is much easier.

I am not suggesting that one has to be an athlete to be conscious, but one does need to live and engage in the world. And living and engaging fully in the world can not be separated from the body. So even when our bodies “fail” us, we experience the word through touch, taste, smell, hearing, and seeing. This are not transcended.

I planted a mulberry tree as a “symbol” of this dedication to a year-and-a-day. I like this symbol as it is a living growing one. A-year-and-a-day will pass but the energy and result of doing this work will live on, grow, develop, and bear fruit. When I eat of the tree, I will be reminded of this year and the lessons I learned.

So it has begun and I want to say thank you to my friend Jim for being a co-creator of this next year. So, let me ask you the reader this:

What vow will you make to yourself that will help you become the kind of person you wish to be? What can you commit to?

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Nothing ordinary exist

Heavy rain this morning and hard to leave my cozy bed. But alas, the demands of earning a paycheck won out. So here we are in morning traffic in the rain and part of me is still back in bed. I am going through the motions. I think about the rain and remember what it is to have wet clothing. And then it hits me, what an amazing thing it is to be able to move along at 50mph and be completely dry and comfortable. What an amazing thing the automobile is. And then I am more awake and I think about other things such as the clothes I am wearing and what a remarkable thing it is to have machines make such extraordinary weaves. And then I see how lush Maine is this year, like a rain forest – every tree and bush unique yet intimately connected. I am completely surrounded by things beyond my comprehension.

So throughout the day everything I look at seems extraordinary if I actually take the time to really look and notice it. Today has been a day of realizing just what an amazing complex and mind-blowing thing reality is. If we take the time to stop and really look at the world, I don’t see how anything could be labeled ordinary. Nothing ordinary exist in the world I live in.

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I am sitting at Union Station Plaza in Portland, Maine waiting for my wife as she has a drum lesson (yes she is that cool :>). As I watch people pass by, I am noticing how my first impulse to judgment as to what each person is all about, is consistently wrong. My first judgment is based on my eyes. After a watching a bit more, I take in more information and that first judgment seems silly. Not only is it based on my vision, it is also based on my preconceptions.

What do we really know of the world around us by using our eyes. What we take in for information visually is simply the light that is reflected off from an object. We actually see nothing of “them”. What can we really know of someone without seeing with more than just our eyes? To really begin to know the world around us, we have to close our eyes. We need to awaken our sense of taste, touch, and smell. We need to learn how our own soul feels next to another. Think of how much a child learns in the first few years of its life – a whole language, how to use its body, what is family structure, what is outside of it. They do this by touching everything. They put everything in their mouth to taste it and to smell it.

Learning and understanding are not based in seeing. They are based in hearing. Hearing implies we hear another’s story, another’s song. Listening to the song implies that we take the time to hear it. It also implies we can see how is fits with our own song. Harmony or dissonance? We think that children are not good at listening. The truth of the matter is they are brilliant at it. They just aren’t good at multi-tasking. They are so engulfed by the songs of another, they shut the rest of the world out. They dive into relationship with their whole being. They learn and understand on a very core level. They seem to understand that things are not what they look like.

And I have to ask myself, how can I get myself to hear as well as I when I was a baby?

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I spent the weekend at a friend’s log cabin in the mountains near the tiny town of Byron, Maine. I was there with my wife and a friend. Each time I visit this place it causes me to stop and rethink my way of being in the world.

This simple cabin was handmade from trees off the mountain by my friend and his family. There is a wood-fired sauna, gravity fed water, and gas lights. No electricity. The first thing I always notice when I get there is the lack of hum from AC power. The silence is so refreshing. The sauna so cleansing.

We spent the weekend hiking in the woods, making good food, playing music, staying up late and napping. There are no clocks. One starts to run on natural time. The days of the week have no meaning until it is time to get back home to our jobs.

Having this break was such a wonderful gift. I feel clear. Now I am envisioning my life in a different way, a life that is more simple and one free from the hum of AC. We are planning on building a cord-wood sauna at our place. I am dreaming up solar electricity for our home (its DC instead of AC).

When I get back to Nature, I find peace and creativity. Then the demands of modern life crashes back in and I lose that sense of simplicity, that inner calm. So now I am envision a life where there is no getting back because I will have never left it to begin with. Life is too important to not have peace on a daily basis. Peace = a lack of need. I am learning to separate need from desire.

Do you crave a more simple quiet life? What can you do to find quiet simplicity? How can you renegotiate your life to better meet your needs, to find peace?

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