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Breath of the Fall

The leaves are now yellow, red and orange.  We find them as a blanket on the ground whether in the woods or on the sidewalks.  We are in the midst of the letting go so characteristic of the Metal Element and the Autumn.   We can let go of things of the past, or wounds we carry from our own past.  We always remember, but we don’t have to make the past the present.   When we accomplish this, there is a freedom and accompanying receiving.  

And as it is every year, I find that I go to bed earlier and I sleep later, eat more and am happy with the quieter times.  But in this particular year when most of us are still in the quietest time of our lives, what can we expect?    Can we do as we always do and gather and cultivate our Qi?  Can we be sure not to scatter our energies and work on our breathing to ensure the process of cultivation? Perhaps, just perhaps, because things are ‘different’ there will be the possibility of balancing and flowing as we journey this time toward the quiet coming this Winter.  

I would suggest that if we work on breathing though the lungs that we will build our immune systems, detox and establish a realization of the work of the network inside that allows for a splendid kind of calm and stillness.  I promise to focus on this tomorrow during Monday’s meditation at noon.  We will breathe into the organs to find calm and stillness within.  The calm allows for the building up of inner strength and is in keeping with this Autumn/Metal time.  To quote one of the great Chinese Medicine scholars, Elizabeth Rochat, “ Breaths are the yang of life, the dynamism, vitality, and movement of life, and spirits preserve the good direction of life in you.  You have to protect he vitality in yourself, and the most important aspects of it are the Spirits and the Breaths.” 

Let us live in appreciation of the movement of life through our breath this week!  How amazing it all is to be alive.

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Finding Meaning

Ring the Bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering 

There is a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in.

Leonard Cohen

When we discuss the value of our lives I think first of these words by Leonard Cohen from Anthem.  Forget your perfect offering – it’s how the light get in.  In this fall season and the Metal element there is the conversation about what is of value in us.   

Metal can be about bringing a sense of closure for people because when we truly let go of all the long-held memories and beliefs, then we make room for other possibilities.  Tonight, is Yom Kippur and tomorrow in prayer we will mention a long list of all the ‘sins’ or actions that one shouldn’t take and repeatedly ask for forgiveness.  Through that letting go the possibilities are there for living a life that is closer to a sacred way.  The hope is that by the end of tomorrow after prayer and fasting we will face the meaning and value of living another year.  

As with all sitting or prayer there is stillness as we move through the Metal element.  Also, with the breath we connect to all that is and nature as a source. The breath takes us to deep spaces within and often connects us with all realms of heaven and earth.  Sometimes the search for meaning a person focuses on regret or that thing that she/he thinks is wrong about them.  The work is realizing that things are fluid and that transformation comes with each breath and the breath transforms everything.

The emotions that need to flow smoothly for a person through Metal is grief or longing.  Often Longing starts from grief.  We are looking to empty and to refill again.  Can you remember longing?   Longing has some desire in it but it’s bigger than that.  Longing also relates to that which touches us deeply, the divine.  To find the Holy Grail is to know God and have truth but it is also a longing in our everyday life. Longing is a soul leveled desire.  Some people long for children and others don’t. It’s not only psychological, it is the soul knowing that which they must have to fulfill their lives purpose.  Again, to give their lives meaning. 

I invite you to practice breathing in and out of the belly for 5 or 10 minutes in the next few days with no expectations but just to see if you can find the means of your own reset.  Experience your lungs at the same time.  See what you might discover about yourself.  

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Flow

September 6, 2020

On Flow

In 2002, I lived in Marin County in California.  It has a high percentage of Buddhists practitioners.   Everywhere I would go there were announcements of offerings or articles on display.  On hot afternoon, I went to the local ice cream parlor and there was an article with snapshots of the Dali Lama’s face expressing various emotions in a short period of time.   You could see surprise, sadness, joy, anger, and fear.  It was a study of the experiencing emotions without holding onto them.   And then there was a kind of calm photo.    Since the article said it was done over a half hour interview, I was delighted to see how he could flow from one emotional landscape to the next.  

There are few of us who possess the fluidity to move from one emotional state to the next.  Most of us, though not all, seem to arrive back to a familiar place of anger, sadness, worry, grief or anger.  It isn’t complicated really.  We get stuck in some ways that seem quite realistic to us. It’s easy to keep returning to one place that colors our perspective.   We don’t flow from one emotion to the other without having to release the last moment that we have stored in our bodies.  

When we are able to move with flow our current interactions are more compassionate and skillful.  Once in the last 1980s, I was in England studying Acupuncture, and my roommate and I turned on the TV one evening and began watching Dr. Ruth interview a sports figure.  She asked a question that clearly touched a sensitive area, and she pulled back within seconds and substituted a different question.  My friend and I were in awe that she could be so attuned and able to make an uncomfortable situation comfortable again.  She was in an emotional relationship with flow and able to move with kindness and understanding with him.  If you asked me how many things I remember watching from that same decade I would have to admit that this is the only one.

In all healing traditions there has always been the inclusion of the emotions.  Chinese medicine is no different.  The overall basis for everything is the flow of the seasons, Autumn flows to Winter, Winter to Spring, Spring to Summer, and Summer to Late Summer. Each season is associated with an organ and is a metaphor for its nature.   And each organ has its own emotional landscape.  

AutumnWinterSpringSummer Late Summer
LungsKidneyLiverHeartEarth
Grief/LongingFearAngerSadnessWorry

We all experience every single one.  Some roll into the next easier.  How many of you have had a fight with your family where you end up laughing?  Just like with the seasons we flow from one to the other.   But there are places where we can’t quite find our flow.  But please know that don’t have to be in only one of the continual landscape of emotions.

The best is to be like the Dali Lama and to be able to move quickly in emotional reactions from one to the other.  Most of us need to do more work to get there.  Often, acupuncture helps.  But for me, it is meditation and doing Qigong that truly does the excavation to release the buried yet present emotional junk.  The real aim in it all is of course to be able to flow from one to the other with no effort.    Until I get there, I can be found doing my Qigong. 

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Staying at Home Produces Earth Relief

With all the craziness that this pandemic I was wondering if the Earth felt some relief from our slowing down of our movements and get togethers.  It might be bigger than a donation.   I am pleased to share a number of countries and organizations are looking at this and the greenhouse emissions are down, the troublesome trash at the beaches are decreased, but recycling is down.    Some researchers are already concerned that we are rapidly going back to our old ways as businesses return and our care and attention to these issues disappear.   And it does show that we can make positive changes for us all.  For me, it’s encouraging.  Sometimes I think that we have made a huge mess for the next generations.   I want something to halt the direction that we are going. 

Here are a few articles of interest: 

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/07/200709141538.htm
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969720323305
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/07/seas-silenced-by-pandemic-could-improve-health-whales/

And a slightly more pessimistic analysis in the following article:https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/06/why-covid-19-will-end-up-harming-the-environment/#close

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The Earth Element and transitions

I started to write about the Earth Element at the first of July.  Here we are a month later and we remain in the midst of it.  The humidity is thick, and it doubles the heat.  I even feel it while I am writing at the computer. This morning, while walking the dog I felt like a wet noodle. The jeans that I jump into early in the morning stuck to me as if they were wet.  And while it is uncomfortable it is all about the Earth element.

What we get from the Earth is about being grounded, centered, nourished and supported.  Once we find our rootedness, how do move from it and transition into the next phase.  Sometimes it almost feels like it requires giving up that rootedness, but it isn’t about that.  It’s about accepting the flow.

Usually at this time of year we would begin the new year in college, school, or work projects.   It is the time of transitions in general.  But this year, in particular, our transition might be the question of can we create a new life during the pandemic.  What calls you next?  Is it service? Is it art?  Is it Qigong?  Is it meditation? Can you vision into the future of what is next for you?  As we go from Earth to Metal (the Fall) we ask the question, ‘what is of value’.  The Metal is about being precise, inspired and clear and recognizing the meaning in life.  And within all those questions recognizing your self-worth.  That is the landscape of the Fall. In the midst of it all there are constant transitions.  Wherever there isn’t flow there is some kind of stagnant energy that needs to move.  

For myself, I move forward as I determine the value for me of what’s next.  I’m back working at the office.  I’m not seeing people 5 days a week as I was 6 months ago.  I see people 2 days a week.  Is it the same?  No.   With the new protocols I talk with the person the day before in place of what I used to do in the office.  I need to listen and see in a deeper way without them being in the room.  And I get to recognize the elements and the transitions from one to the other.  The great thing about the elements is that there are all these transitions as we flow from one to the other in the creation and ending of each cycle.  It is always there.  With the lengthened focus on people I consider many strategies.  It reminds me of the time decades ago when I was a student and I would sit with how to help a person for a week, sometimes writing a 10-page paper on how to support the elemental flow. I’m sure that I might be embarrassed by the far-flung ideas from those days.  However, it was a time of carefully considering as many options as possible.   And it is a recognition of how the transitions we make can remain centered even in these times.  I am reminded that there are always a million ways to do things.

Enjoy the last weeks of the Earth energy. Nourish yourself and feel the way toward adjusting to the transitions in front of you.

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