Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A hell of a good universe next door... let's go.

"A bouquet of clumsy words: you know that place between sleep and awake where you’re still dreaming but it’s slowly slipping? I wish we could feel like that more often. I also wish I could click my fingers three times and be transported to anywhere I like. I wish that people didn’t always say ‘just wondering’ when you both know there was a real reason behind them asking. And I wish I could get lost in the stars. Listen, there’s a hell of a good universe next door… Let’s go." ~E.E. Cummings

The sun peeks up over the hills and a slow, thick mist is hanging over the water. It's time to rise for early morning practice but the stillness that surrounds me keeps me under my dew covered blanket to reflect. 

I've found that while retreat location is elemental and significant,  it's the people that make it. I simply cannot replicate the atmosphere and energy that each unique person brings to a retreat even when I venture to the same location time after time. 

There is, however, something awakening and transformative about Thailand and Asia overall as a retreat destination. When your journey's end is challenging to get to, it's a commitment to voyage there. For those coming half a globe away, 24 traveling hours brings a sense of acceptance or resistance. Once arrived, if you can let go of the resistance and allow the flow of the experience to take you into the fabric of the culture, the magic begins.

It is the genius of the location when it transports you to another time and place in your being. It might remind you of where you've been in years past, a bit like déjà vu or be completely and uncomfortably unfamiliar. So much so that you realize you left your world behind with all the comforts of home and familiar haunts. 
If you saw her in these moments, you might think she was collecting her thoughts in order to go forward. But I see it another way: Her mind is being overwhelmed by two processes that must simultaneously proceed at full steam. One is to deal with and live in the present world. The other is to re-experience and mourn something that happened long ago. It is as though her lightness pulls her toward heaven, but the extra gravity around her keeps her earthbound.~ Steve Martin, The Pleasure of My Company
Finding the perfect ingredients for escape, healing and uncovering what you didn't know you desired in a place where time seems to stand still. There is only now, this moment. The luxury of time and simplicity whispers in your soul... be still. And your expectations melt away while all your senses come alive to the tastes, exotic colors and unusual alluring smells. 

In the quiet spaces, this setting simultaneously reminds you of everything  you've ever wanted to forget about home and everything at home you're grateful for. It whispers how you can live with less. Life can be simpler. Here, in the world's largest continent, the Internet spotty at best. All homes do not have air con and toilets, and toilet paper is still a luxury in some parts of this world. Everything and nothing is perfect. Drive for perfection begins to drop away layer by layer as you learn to be comfortable without what you once felt was essential and important. 
"You’ll ache. And you’re going to love it. It will crush you. And you’re still going to love all of it. Doesn’t it sound lovely beyond belief?" ~Ernest Hemingway, The Garden of Eden
World view expands, and you begin to see people and colors beyond your visual range. You feel infinite as time pauses. Just when you embrace a rainbow of experience, in this magical setting, it's time to journey onward. 

Going home, you feel free again and a new acceptance and appreciation for your past and future blooms in the rebirth. 

Retreat with me:

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

love in make-believe

“Until we have seen someone's darkness, we don't really know who they are. Until we have forgiven someone's darkness, we don't really know what love is.” ― Marianne Williamson

Cried this morning when I read this quote because isn't it so that we cannot see the beauty in others until we can recognize it in ourselves?

And, on the other side of that same token, we cannot be free, fully free to love without strings attached, unless we acknowledge that we are all broken, cracked and rough around the edges in some way. Our perfect little imperfections make us both prone to incredible blunders and to hugely wonderful things.

Focusing on to their darkness as a reason to not forgive that person doesn't allow genuine love to surface.

Without forgiveness it's just love in make-believe.

Monday, September 2, 2013

it begins and ends with love

Everything, absolutely everything is from the vantage point of our own filter or lens through which we see ourselves, our life and those around us.

"We do not see things as they are. We see them as we are."
~ The Talmud

We perceive things and forget to step back and view the entire picture. It's like the scene in Ferris Bueller's Day off where they hop around Chicago seeing all the famous sites, including a visit to the Art Institute of Chicago. Cameron stands, viewing the Impressionist work of A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat. Through pointillism, the arrangement of dots form shadows and light and characters and nature and beauty. All at once he feels like he is apart of something greater as if he were in the composition containing a seemingly infinite number of dots of color.

Just like the mind blends color to form an object, our minds blend our circumstances to reveal one thing. If we step closer and even closer it reveals the secrets and misunderstandings and the hidden images that make up the whole of the masterpiece.

You and I are made up of the sum of our experiences and when we look at people at their face value rather than the radiance just underneath their mask, we're tempted to make false assumptions, jump to conclusion or assume things about them that perhaps aren't true.

My job is to remain pliable as I gather new and better information that enables me to see the entire painting. Can I allow my perception to change and harness judgements? Moment my moment, perhaps.

Judgement is the thief of compassion, just like comparison is the thief of happiness. In the end, every dot, every work of art, every human healing begins and ends with love. It's the journey of a lifetime that extends beyond my comprehension.

And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry
likeness, image of
I felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke loose on the wind.
~ Pablo Neruda