Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It's in There

As I was putting my Son to bed and he was turning my peace-sign pendant over in his fingers, as he usually does, now that he's learned not to tug violently at it, a thought occurred to me. An imagined conversation. I played out the obvious questions he might ask me when he is able.

"What does this mean?"
"It's a symbol for peace."
"What is peace?"

The simple answer came pretty quickly. Then took a second to take hold...

"Peace is the absence of conflict."

I thought about it for a while (I would like to say I meditated on it but, isn't that kind of the same thing? If it's not, I'm not sure the difference. Maybe that will come to me one day too...maybe while I'm meditating...or not.), and it really held true, for me. The notion that really rang, when this thought struck, was the one about peace being within; About peace not being something to attain but, something we innately have. By this definition, it was obvious to me that peace is something we come with; Our natural state. Because, what conflict is there, before we start analyzing? It brought me to the idea about enlightenment being a destructive process. A process of tearing down all of the things we've built up in our minds. All of the conflicts we perceive, and create, in ourselves and in the world, with others. I see how difficult it can be to be at peace with the world, in this context. I see how many things are actually working against us. But, I also understood, on some deeper level than before, that the internal conflict really can be completely done away with. That there is a way to just let there not be internal strife. Now, I'm not saying I have resolved or dissolved all of my internal duals. But, I have experienced peace. The not fighting myself practice continues....

Along these lines, before I started typing, I did some searching of the interwebs, and found a few quotes saying "Peace is NOT the absence of conflict...", it is some more complicated blar blar... So, I started to wonder if I was wrong. I even thought about not typing this. But, I went back to the practice, and re-experienced what I felt when I had this insight. It was real. So, here is this.

It'd been quite a while since I wrote anything. I'm glad I did.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"No Practice Practice" or "Practiceless v. Practice Less"

Today was one of those fluid days. You know those days, where you don't even notice how smoothly everything is going, or how neatly everything is linked together because you are just in it? (At least until you reflect a bit.) Yeah, one of those days.

Today's log looks something like:

530ish: Jog with dog.
730ish: Arrive at work.
1130ish: Lunch with a friend I haven't seen for a while
1230ish: Bumped into another friend, I haven't seen in a while.
1245ish: Jumped into (well in front of) yet another friend I haven't seen in a while.
4ish: Phone call with a loved one I have spoken to for a while.
4:30ish: Dinner with nephew I haven't seen in WAY too long a while.
630ish: Get home to play with Zen while he is in fireball mode.
745ish: Baby bedtime songs and snuggles.
8ish 20 minute sit.
8:41: Typed THIS.

I wrote it like that to give you a sense of how it was for me. Each event in the timeline was just the next thing that happened. It wasn't until I was telling my wife how my day was that I registered a theme, or the seeming serendipity of it all.

I also didn't notice until now - something that I have noticed in the past - that running seems to be a part of my day, on a lot of the days that I am at this level of ease or "connectedness". That was the word I used to describe how I felt to Jane. "I just felt connected today." I think you can see why, looking at the above chronology. But, I didn't even really identify the feeling until I was telling her about it. It was one connection after another.

I wasn't even trying. I wasn't "being mindful" or "setting my intention". I just was wherever I was.

Alarm went off...time to run.

Wished Tony a Facebook "Happy Anniversary! Congrats and Love!"...hey, long time, let's have lunch!

Hug Tony goodbye, turn around to head for the bank..."Whattup Simmer?!"

Keep stepping on my errand, after a chat..."SPRIZE Ethelind!"

My bro, my nephews' Dad...phone call to talk about life changes...

...just happened to have plans with his Son tonight.


I just kept thinking "that was really nice"...all day!

Now I am writing...reConnecting with this practice. Continuing to reConnect with this practice...

I am tempted to produce and describe some thoughts about what this all means (or might mean or my understanding of it); About how practice turns into fluid, intuitive, living. But, I am not going to think much more deeply about it than I have already.

Keep the link.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Desire and Nature


   Just got back from a really nice run. Last year at this time I would have called it a short run, because I was training for a long ass race I didn't end up running, but now this is just a run. I run about 2-4 miles when I run now, I do do it for just for the exercise and enjoyment. I REALLY enjoy it now.

So, I haven't written for a few days. A couple quick notes about that:

  1. I tried a couple times.
  2. Writing near TV is pretty much not writing, for me.
  3. I'm not going to write every day.
  4. Sometimes, when I write it will be gibberish. Pure nonsense.
  5. I just needed a 5 to round out the list. Like how you never have an even number of flowers in a bouquet.
Some days are busy, others are full. Not many of mine are neither. Today was full!  Worked a full day, came home and mowed the lawn, ate dinner while working from home some more and playing with Zen, took the little Fyahball for an evening walk over the bridge to see the lake, read him a couple stories and put him to bed, rocking and singing.  Then I went for a run. Here's that story...

"Are you going to go all frolicky style?" says her Wifeness.
"We'll see how I feel." says I.

Sometimes, since abandoning regimented training, while running around (going to 'run around' always sounds more fun than going 'for a run', and I like stuff to be more fun, so I say it in a more fun way) I will jump on stuff, and balance on things, and stop and gawk and just generally gallivant about the place. (See doesn't that sound fun?!) I don't always, but sometimes I do. Sometimes I just run around.  I never really know. I also am not too sure how far or exactly where any more. I have a general idea when I set out but, I will let shiny things draw my eye. Like different paths, or water, or trees, or critters, or just a gut feeling.

I ran a familiar route tonight. Felt good right away. It was so so nice out! I love not living in Uptown on days like this. The lakes are ridiculously crowded. There's something to be said for that too but, it doesn't jibe with a relaxing run, for me. I left home and ran around a small pond, where there must have been thousands of crickets and who knows how many frogs chirping away. It was getting to be dusk, so they were really going!  I skirted the trail and ran over to a little nature center nearby. I ended up taking the short trail around the grounds. The short trail's less than a mile and has a floating bridge across the lake there.  I did do a little hopping and balancing but, that wasn't the inspiring part.

Whenever I cross the floating bridge, on a run, I do a little Tai Chi walking. See, the floating bridge is hard to run on. You might think it would be nice and soft but, it's not soft like a padded mat. It just keeps giving, then returns in a whole different rhythm than I generally run. So, the first time, I went and tried to run across, it was like running on Jello. It really didn't work. So I started the walking. I am a very novice Tai Chi student so, I can use all the practice I can get. Plus, in addition to being meditative, and a nice break from the cardio, I discovered another benefit: enhanced balance! While the trails were icy this Spring, I went for a run over there, and sort of slipped and slid my way to the bridge. After Tai Chi walking for the last couple of panels of bridge, I ran much more steadily, the rest of the lap.

Today, as I approached the bridge, I was taking in the surroundings. Tall reeds. Calm water. More chirping bugs and frogs. A beaver streaming by. The wild life there is not completely wild but, not completely trusting, like city park critters, either. So, they disperse when I come running up the path. A story came to mind of a man (I want to say a monk but, I don't remember the origin of the story) who was so at peace with his own nature, and the the whole of nature, that truly wild animals would note flee when he was near (deer is what came to mind from the story; now that I'm typing this it might actually have been Buddha. LOL.) I wanted to be that at peace with the beaver that just swam by, and the ducks that were hustling off in the brush. But, I realized too that that desire, to be at peace was by it's very name (desire) a barrier to that type of experience. I laughed at that to, and just went back to enjoying the place, as I approached the bridge and slowed to a walk.

I stepped from land onto the first section of bridge, slanting down to the second (and first floating) section. Just over the joint between the 2 pieces, I stood and bowed, as we customarily do to open a Tai Chi form. As I came up from a deep bow, the critters seemed to crescendo and chirped in different way and at a different pitch for just a moment.  I couldn't help but laugh again. I began to slowly walk. Usually I just do legs. Just Tai Chi walk, paying close attention to where my weight is, how my feet and body are aligned, and where my energy is. But, tonight I did arms too. At first, I couldn't really keep them straight and did a combination of 2 different moves (Parting Wild Horse's Mane and Brush Knee). After 4 or 5 steps, I settled into the Horse's Mane, and did that for a few more panels of bridge. This is a long bridge (maybe even longer than this blog post) so, I usually do a little walking at the beginning and a little walking at the end.

This was when it got really fun. Based on my previous grounding, and balance enhancing experience with this bridge walking practice, I thought I would try to jog part of it tonight. Here, something else came to mind, which is maybe too much of a tangent to go to much into but, hey that's kind of how I do....OK, briefly: I have been reading about photography as a contemplative practice, and the notion of receiving photos rather than taking them, resonates deeply with me. I thought of that in conjunction with my decision to jog. I thought, I would pay attention to the bridge, and the way it was behaving under my feet. Rather than running, the way I do on land, and dismissing the bridge as problematic, I would just run and pay attention to what the bridge was telling me. I would receive the bridge. At first I had a similar sensation as first attempt. Finding a rhythm wasn't as easy as just running at a steady pace. The bridge would dunk, under my footfalls, and not return in time for the next foot but, rather mid stride about 1 and a half steps later. Gradually, I began to wait for the bridges return, to put my foot down. At first it was a really awkward run , as I had started with a heavy foot and I had to wait at irregular intervals for the bridge's buoyancy to return it to level. But, as I got the hang of it, we did fall into rhythm. The bridge and I did. The water, and the bridge and I were all in step. It was such a cool sensation. I felt like I was running on the water! My gait was shorter and a little bouncier than usual, but, it was what was agreed upon. At each at each peak of the bridges bounce, the ball of my foot would strike and the bridge would go just slightly back down. It was like running across turtle shells in a cartoon! "So fucking cool!" I thought, as I stopped tip-toeing across the lake, in time to save myself a few panels to walk, before shore.

I looked back and saw the waves that the bridge, the water and I had created. Rows of them, seemingly...no they HAD to be...equidistant, radiating out from the bridge on both sides. Smiling like a goof now.  I turned, and stepped on a seam of a 2 bridge pieces, bowed, and began my slow, mindful walking. As I did, I noticed a (different?) beaver, swimming toward the end of the bridge where I was headed. I kept walking. I think I did 3 or 4 panels, which is probably 10-15 steps. I stopped just before the bridge-to-land gapper, and just as I was coming out of slow motion, the beaver, who had been just floating at the edge of the bridge, splashed and went under water. For a second there, I had forgotten the desir to be connected, and I was. The whole place popped to life even more vividly! So much sound. So many more creatures! There were frogs all along the path, on this side of the lake which, I had to watch for, and a turtle, and more birds, and the rise and fall of the frogs' and crickets' song. But, to tell the whole story, at this point, having come out of that place, I couldn't wait to write about it! I went back and forth the rest of the way home thinking about what I would type, and reminding myself to just run. I enjoyed that too. Inspiration is a great feeling. I was reminded of an aphorism on the way back, about not being any more excited at the last step of the journey than the first, and really tried to find that middle way. 

Practice is fun. Toady was full.

By the way, I didn't type anything I thought I might...ha.


Friday, April 27, 2012


I said I would write something. Today, I am practicing doing what needs to be done. Instead of writing at 9, which I am already really enjoying, I continued to work. These late hours are part of the job sometimes. Now, it's time for a movie with my partner. Which, is also more important, and ties into the previous post about flexibility. I suppose I could have just not written anything but, hey maybe next time. We'll see. I am certainly interested to see how this practice develops.

I will share these lines, I read today, before logging off: "And so, dear friend, if you find yourself judging anyone these days, including yourself, chill. It's a total waste of time — especially when you could be enjoying the very thing you were born for.

" [source]


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Case in Point

Practice practice practice. It is so important for me to remember that it's all practice. Now, some might say there is NO practice. That this is real life. Game on! But, to my mind it all shakes out the same in the end anyway so, it really just boils down to approach. It's kind of like saying no one is exactly like anyone else. So, that means EVERYone is unique and special...just like everybody else. It may seem like semantics but, I think a subtle shift in perspective is so often makes all the difference in how we experience a moment, a day, or whatever span the shift lasts.

For example, I know that a lot of us live by a routine. So much so that it can sometimes seem like we are doing the same thing day in day out. Although, we certainly aren't. My eldest daughter once explained to me how every time is the first time, for everything. I was intrigued by this, and she expounded saying that when you've never done something before, and you very first try it, it is the first time you've done it, and there will never be another first time. I was like, uh ya, that's what I'm saying...only 1 first. Ahhhh but, she went on to say, the next time you do that thing will be the second time you do it. Right? Right. But, the jewel she dropped was that, this is the first and only time you will be doing that thing for the second time. I'm smiling deeply just recalling the look in her eye, and how happy felt when I grasped the perspective she had just revealed. Everything is always new. Every inch we wiggle, every floor we sweep, every work day, every meal, every breath is unique and special...just like every one before and after it.

So, what's that got to do with practice? So, yeah, I get that it's real life, all the time. That this is IT. When I say practice, I don't mean in the sense of preparation for some later "event". Like an athlete or performer would practice, to get everything just right, for a game or a show....

I just got stuck there, while I was typing away...I started to feel like I was making an argument for something, or against something. The truth is it is practice like that too. It's not either like that or like this. It is practice with idea that working at things improves our abilities. The idea I started out with here, and where I think I was dividing theses types of practice, is that there is no end game, for these life practices, other than to benefit from the practice, and to improve the practice itself. Maybe the practice evaporates eventually. I know it definitely becomes more organic, as I do it. But, I know I am certainly still applying disciplines to engage the world the way I want to.

This actually gets me back to the idea I had when I started typing (I didn't really mean to type all that but, I'm not going to edit much either. Just going to let it out). Yesterday, I had what I am calling an insight to clarity. Something that some might say was an epiphany. I used to use that word to but, it has this air of deliverance that doesn't quite feel right to me any more. Like it came from somewhere outside me and that something has been produced before my mind. These days, these insights feel more like the truth (I would have capitalized truth there, not too long ago too), was just always just there, and just in that moment, the light (woulda capitalized that too), was just right, and my perspective just so...that I caught a glimpse of something I just hadn't seen before. Or just hadn't seen this way, or understood it differently. Whatever it is, mocus-pocus, or refraction of consciousness or whatever, the feeling and resonance that comes with is delightful. So, this thought that occurred to me, it took me a while to put it into words because of course, I wanted to share it. I have long thought said that words are a reduction of thought. So while you can understand something completely, it can take a good deal of effort to try to reconstruct a representation of it from characters and sounds. Which, as an aside, is part of why remembering and explaining our dreams can e so tricky. We just KNOW so much about what is happening, that we could really never relay it all. So, this thought...haha...I have to wonder if anyone will actually follow all this...but, I also am loving writing it!! The thought came, I reduced it to words, in my mind, but, I didn't record or report it anywhere. Later, I would try to recall it and not even be able to remember the topic. Sometimes, these things are just for us...

Sometimes these things are just so specially for us...yesterday evening, while walking and talking with my wife and our infant Sun, she said a word that brought the thought back, in a flash: "flexibility". BOOM! The thought hit me again, the clarity of what it meant, the depth of it's effect...but, this was mid-conversation, and i hadn't the time to think of the words to describe it...I told Jane that what she said just brought back this insight, and I started excitedly explaining, conjuring the concepts fro the ooze of enlightenment as I went, thrilled I was revisiting this, and knowing I was getting a grasp on it....it has to do with this illusion of polarities and how when we apply them to each other they are so complimentary, and that we can be busy and peaceful, and determined but fluid, and...she interjects "I REALLY like your new shoes! 'oh, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt. They just caught my eye. Go on." ...uhhh...uhhh...F! Lost it, again. I am like that. I can set my car keys down, spin around in a circle, and they are missing!

There I was, on the brink of crystallizing this gem, and it was lost again. I thought for a few seconds...nope. I was bothered for a few more...when I had to laugh at myself,here I was launching into this detailed explanation of the way to apply a discipline of flexibility, and beginning to stiffen at the idea of not being able to tell it....yeah, it's a practice. So, I said, it's still there...it will come out sometime...or not, and I meant it.

As I was typing this, just before that last paragraph, and again excited about this fruit of my practice, I set down the computer, and helped Jane make the bed. As, I always do, just as we lay the quilt on top, I flipped up my the edge at my side, and brought it down again, whipping an air-bubble underneath, to smooth it out. My wife laughed at me: "You just have to do that, don't you?" Said I was sort of rigid about it. I am too...damn!


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Write On!

So, I am starting a blog. I am doing it for a few reasons. All of them are addressed by the title I've chosen. As with many of the things I will likely type, it is a word play (I'd like to consider myself a bit of a linguaphile but, mostly just because I like that word. I don't think I'm devoted enough to really claim it). You will also notice, if you continue to read, that I may tend to overuse parenthetical and some other potentially awkward mechanisms. I will also make up words. I love to create a portmanteau and will purposely re-spell a word for effect or meaning. Which may seem funny because it drives me nuts when people misuse words accidentally. But, I really like it when they do it on purpose. A.A. Milne comes to mind. If you're not sure why, I recommend re-reading some of the classic Pooh stories. So, yeah, this will all probably be very stream of consciousness...

But, back to the title of the blog. This is about my experience, and from what I can tell, a lot of what determines how we live is a matter of practice. So, yeah, Practice Matters. The blog itself is a practice. First of all a writing practice. I really enjoy writing but, have not written much for several years. It's also a vulnerability practice. I really believe in the value of being connected with people, and furthermore that those personal connections are forged and nurtured through openness of heart. I intend to be as open with my feelings and experiences as possible. To the degree that this is already a practice of mine, I have seen marked progress in the degradation of ego. However, I am well aware, I have plenty left to let go of. Another benefit of this connectedness, and an intention I am setting (or again continuing from my life outside of this blog) is helpfulness. I really think we all have something to offer, and that by simply sharing our lives we help each other. A phrase I use often, and will likely expound on here, is "Help helps, no matter which way it's flowing." Or just "Help helps." Meaning, it is helpful to both parties. It is good for the person helping, as well as the person being helped. So, it is my hope that by sharing myself here, it will help me further develop my practices, and that readers may find some value in them as well.

My plan is to type on a pretty regular basis. Every night, our kids have an hour of reading and writing time before bed. I plan to utilize that same time, before going in to tuck them in. I likely won't write for an hour every night. But, I will write something. I will write about the things I am practicing, how they're working for me, and what I am learning from them. Sometimes I will babble on, like this, or I may write a poem, or maybe just a thought. But, whatever I do write, my main practice will to be as transparent as possible.

Lastly, I am sharing a video. I have shared it with many people, many times. But, it is a fitting intro to this blog. It's an excerpt of one of my teachers, who I was introduced to almost 20 years ago, when I needed guidance the most (thanks, Nancy), talking about practice...