Plugged and Unplugged
I think, untampered, days are designed to open up like flowers. They each offer a universe of multidimensional feasts to the senses, teeming with rich, multifaceted life on this flowing earth plane.
I have spent the past 9 days visiting my son and his partner, my daughter and son-in-law, and my 6 month-old grandson in New England. I've seen great cities, forest-ringed ponds, and rock-strewn,wild ocean shores. I've seen history greatly matched with the current HBO special, John Adams, about the founding of our country, and yet continued to be very much plugged in to the world with its equally poignant, peaking political struggles.
One short Day Far Beyond the City
Day-to-day life doesn't care about all this. It just flows and grows within its own unfolding rhythms.
A few short miles from the bottlenecked east-coast interstate I lay on great warmed rocks, casually placed as if strewn by a careless giant, alone except for the ever-pounding surf gently spraying its salty foam before me in small explosion after explosion. The overgrown trail hasn't even sprouted rose buds, only prickles that easily grab and entangle my hair as I hike, but the radiant sun high in a cloudless blue sky promises spring, and it seems to me the ocean laughs and rejoices.
Nearby my youngest daughter, soon to come of age, stands triumphant on the highest rock, arms outstretched to touch the bright blue sky, laughing at the crashing waves far below. We just took a day, a great day to see what the newly-opened earth was up to, even far from the rest of our family who live so close to land's end.
The next day I'm knee-deep in my grandson's lopsided smile as we sit in an old, slanted Adirondack chair in a tiny closed yard surrounded by peaked houses, in the midst of the vast metropolitan spread. Birds don't care about all this - they just sing, and my grandson continues to turn his head seemingly by degrees as he listens intently to their trilling chorus.
If we let it be and partner and rejoice in it, life embraces us and sweetly leads us to its treasures. But we have be able to survive first, and be given space and opportunity to surrender to what's naturally real - not to mention, of course, centrally be willing to be present.
Meet the Challenge to Survive
It really doesn't take much, said Henry David Thoreau, who, over a century and a half ago, spent a year in a small hut overlooking the pond I walked earlier this week writing his memoirs, as a guide to restoring rhythms. He reminded us that we otherwise "lead lives of quiet desperation", which I believe is the price we pay for being out of touch with who we are and what we are, minus our attachments and conditioning.
A year was his choice, and an amazing choice it was - such a guide to us all, who continue to so greatly profit by his sacred record, On Walden Pond, which reads like a flowing meditation. A day was my choice, and when I return next week to my home so far away from here, and my work, it will be an hour or two as many times a week as I can grab.
Perhaps I'm greedy, but I don't think so. I'm just trying to survive, knowing long ago without my rhythms my Self is gone forever.
The only way to know yourself is to know your rhythms. How ironic that when we settle back in a comfortable, supported position, close our eyes, and tune in to our deepening breath, we enter our sacred center from which we can then radiate outward in corresponding essence partnership with the natural world.
So here, of course, are my recommendations - today's Top Ten:
1. On as regular a basis as you can prioritize, get yourself out in nature for an hour or longer.
2. Every day spend five minutes or longer simply being fully present and singularly focused on your regular, deep breaths.
3. Spend fifteen minutes or longer each day observing the world you live in with all your sense fully "plugged in" - see, hear, taste, touch, smell.
4. Let yourself be lovingly touched by life - animal, plant, human, earth, air, water, fire - beyond judgment.
5. Be greatly honest with yourself and others.
6. Listen unconditionally to your feelings, and watch them release themselves like waves beyond your ego-driven interference, miraculously offering their meaningful gifts to you.
7. Spend five or more minutes every day sitting outside, empty - by that I mean, not thinking or doing anything.
8. Sit by a body of water as regularly as possible.
9. At least once a month, take a half-hour and record your worst fears, asking your restored rhythmical self to accept and, through its endless flow, release them as You Will.
10. Every day, say to yourself 10 things you love about life, and take a moment when you've finished to settle back, close your eyes, deepen your breath, and say, "Blessed Be".
(Picture downloaded from Wikipedia Commons. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Henry_David_Thoreau.jpg)