Meditation

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Wouldn’t it be awesome to have this kind of serenity during meditation?  After forty-three years of practice, I’m not there yet.  However, the small moments of peace I do achieve, when the mind silences, keep me meditating regularly.

I was initiated into Transcendental Meditation in 1976.  Mantra meditation is what I still do, though the mantra changed when I met my guru in 1989.  There are many approaches to meditation.  Sometimes I attach the mantra to regulated breathing when I’m very unsettled.

For a lot of people, meditation can feel like this:

angry meditator

I’ve been there, too.  One thing I’ve learned, though, is to let the anger and the self-criticism go. The mind is a very busy monkey. Just come back to the mantra.

My most frequent personal distractions are fidgeting, planning, and writing my books in my head.  I get some great story ideas, but that’s not meditation.

A friend and long-time meditator told me that his guru said that meditation can be difficult in our present times, called the Kali Yuga in Hindu tradition.  The guru said to turn to chanting instead.  Chanting is another way to calm and focus the mind.  It can be less stressful than trying to meditate when one is agitated.  Chanting engages the whole body and all the senses, with ears, breath, voice, posture, vibration.

One of my favorite singers of kirtan (Hindu chants) is Krishna Das.  I like the warmth and ease of his voice.

There are lots of recording of chants available on YouTube.  Some other singers I enjoy are Deva Premal, Snatam Kaur Khalsa, and Ty Berhoe.

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Flamenco Fiesta! October 12 & 13

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Rosendale Theater, October 12, 4:30 pm

Tickets at www.unisonarts.org   or 845-255-1559

Fiesta Flamenca at Unison

Workshops in rhythm, dance, and guitar

Beginners welcome, no experience necessary

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Come experience this venerable, exciting art form!  Get your tickets now!

HVFF!  HVFF2

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Rituals

  1. noun: a religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order

Meditation:

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Every morning with few misses, for 43 years. No matter what, we settle into our respective chairs.  Do alternate breathing.  Lord’s prayer and gratitude to the Guru.  Awaken the reiki.  Reach inside to connect to the shakti.  Seek that surge up the spine, the sinking deep into the waveless lake. Sometimes it’s found.  Sometimes maya intervenes. More about this later.

Children:

Always the bath before bedtime.  Always reading aloud, side by side.  Then a song with a soft chorus and lots of verses.

My daughter fell asleep sucking her thumb and wrapping my hair around her finger.  Once she twisted our hair together.

Saturday morning cleaning the bathroom:

I’d call my Aunt Joan and talk while I cleaned the shower.  One gloved hand managed the sponge, the other bare hand held the cell phone.  A good time and activity for philosophical conversations. Now Aunt Joan is gone, but every time I clean the shower, I want to call her.

Reading before sleep:

It’s important to choose the right book out of the few I’m reading. The text can’t be violent or disturbing.  Maybe a little boring is good.  Too interesting, and it’s hard to put the book down.

 

 

 

 

Leonard Cohen, again

In high school, I listened to Judy Collins sing Suzanne.  My friend and I sang it in harmony, sitting in the stair well of the college library.  The acoustics were great–never mind that people were actually trying to study on the other side of the wall.

Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye, Sisters of Mercy, Bird on a Wire–

I listened and I loved the words. I’m sure I didn’t delve deeply into meaning.

Not long ago, and many years later, someone posted Hallelujah on Facebook.  Sung by a sweet boy and his classmates at P.S. 22 in Manhattan.

For days, I could not get the song out of my head.

Cohen came back to me last week, in the lines from a poem I’ve remembered for forty years.  There is so much truth here, so spare and fine.

A kite is a victim you are sure of.
You love it because it pulls
gentle enough to call you master,
strong enough to call you fool;
because it lives
like a desperate trained falcon
in the high sweet air,
and you can always haul it down
to tame it in your drawer.

A kite is a fish you have already caught
in a pool where no fish come,
so you play him carefully and long,
and hope he won’t give up,
or the wind die down.

A kite is the last poem you’ve written,
so you give it to the wind,
but you don’t let it go
until someone finds you
something else to do.

A kite is a contract of glory
that must be made with the sun,
so you make friends with the field
the river and the wind,
then you pray the whole cold night before,
under the travelling cordless moon,
to make you worthy and lyric and pure.

What I’m Reading

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Almost Everything–Notes on Hope 

by Anne Lamott

“I am stockpiling antibiotics for the Apocalypse, even as I await the blossoming of paperwhites on the windowsill in the kitchen,” Anne Lamott admits at the beginning of Almost Everything. Despair and uncertainty surround us: in the news, in our families, and in ourselves. But even when life is at its bleakest–when we are, as she puts it, “doomed, stunned, exhausted, and over-caffeinated”–the seeds of rejuvenation are at hand. “All truth is paradox,” Lamott writes, “and this turns out to be a reason for hope. If you arrive at a place in life that is miserable, it will change.” That is the time when we must pledge not to give up but “to do what Wendell Berry wrote: ‘Be joyful, though you have considered all the facts.’”

-Review on penguinrandomhouse

I love Anne Lamott’s writing.  She is profound, funny, self-deprecating, and so very wise.  We listened to her read Almost Everything on a long car ride.  Here’s one of many humorous but pithy thoughts that stuck with me: She quotes Ram Dass, who said, “If you think you’re enlightened, spend a week with your family.”

One tiny complaint: Anne Lamott doesn’t read aloud well.  She’s too monotone for my ear, but that didn’t stop me from buying a copy of the book and savoring it slowly, again.

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The Magician (Secrets of the Immortals)

by Michael Scott

After fleeing Ojai, Nicholas, Sophie, Josh, and Scatty emerge in Paris, the City of Lights. Home for Nicholas Flamel. Only this homecoming is anything but sweet. Perenelle is still locked up back in Alcatraz and Paris is teeming with enemies. Niccolo Machiavelli, immortal author and celebrated art collector, is working for Dee. He’s after them, and time is running out for Nicholas and Perenelle. For every day spent without the Book of Abraham the Mage, they age one year-their magic becoming weaker and their bodies more frail. For Flamel, the Prophecy is becoming more and more clear.

-from the Goodreads review

Having read The Alchemist, I had to find the next book.  Since I wasn’t paying attention, I didn’t know that this was a series of six.  I suppose I’ll make my way through all of them eventually.  Right now, though, I must find out whether Sophie learns to control her powers, and if Josh’s powers are awakened. Lots of magic in Scott’s book, with Greek mythology thrown in.

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The Wicked King

by Holly Black

I consider Black a truly masterful writer.  The language flows, and the plot has so many twists and turns that I’m left open-mouthed.  There has to be a third story, because I can’t believe that our dark heroine, Jude Duarte, will accept the fate that ended this book. Truly a great read.

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The Tapping Solution for Manifesting Your Greatest Self

by Nick Ortner

Say what you will, my experience is that tapping (aka Emotional Freedom Technique) works.  I took advantage of Ortner’s offer to purchase this workbook for a mere $4.95.  So far, I’m on Day 2, and I woke up feeling more positive and less grumpy than I have in quite a while.

In the first chapters, Ortner explains the scientific basis for tapping and cites the research that corroborates the technique.

I freely admit that I’m one of those people who likes to try out different diets and self-help strategies.  When friends scoff about tapping, I think, “But WHAT IF it helped?” What if the pain in your shoulder, your self-doubt, your stuckness, diminished or even–gasp!–went away entirely?

Tapping works for me.  What if it works for you?

www.tappingsolution.com

Flamenco Live!

HVFF!

Passionate and powerful!  Lyrical and graceful!

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Flamenco has its roots in a gathering of cultures from India to Morocco to Spain.  The rhythms are complex; the lettras speak of love and pain, but some are clever and funny.

Come immerse yourself in this amazing art form!

Mark your calendars and don’t put off getting your seats, as last year’s show sold out. Tickets are available through the Unison website:

www.unisonarts.org  or call the office at 845-255-1559

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