Life passing us by

That’s why we are always stressed, because we are always looking at something in the distance. If you are always looking at the top of the mountain you are climbing, you cannot be aware of the grass and flowers growing at your feet. We are always looking ahead, aren’t we? And then the actual thing, the actual living, passes us by. We are locked inside our brains, cut off from the present moment, always centered on something beyond our reach. We are imagining this mirage of happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment which will magically appear once this and this and this happens. But what’s happening right now is “it” and it’s the only “it” we have. The rest is just fabrication.

Tenzin Palmo

To let things settle

I can hear the rooks and jackdaws busy gathering twigs for their nests in the trees above my window. The Buddha, it is said, was so still in meditation that the birds were able to nest in his hair. Similarly, St Kevin, an early Irish saint, was so calm when praying with his arms outstretched that a blackbird came and built a nest in his hand, laid her eggs and went on to hatch them. Images of how the mind can become steady, settled in the present moment, even in the midst of so much change and ongoing challenges.

Nothing can help you more than a trained mind, not even your loving parents.

The Buddha

We can make our minds
so like still water
that beings gather about us
that they may see,
it may be, their own images,
and live for a moment with a clearer,
perhaps even with a fiercer life
because of our quiet,
our silence.

W.B Yeats, The Celtic Twilight: Faerie and Folklore

Alone and mirrored clear in love’s deep river,
‘To labour and not to seek reward,’ he prays,

A prayer his body makes entirely
For he has forgotten self, forgotten bird
And on the riverbank forgotten the river’s name.

Seamus Heaney, St Kevin and the Blackbird

Statue of Saint Kevin by Timothy P Schmalz at Knock taken from Knock Shrine website

When you are feeling low

Feelings are often born from a matrix of conditions beyond your control. Just as you can’t control the weather or your boss’s mood, you can’t control the feelings in your body. They are just passing through, like clouds in the sky. They too, dissipate o n their own.

But if you take them not too seriously and start internalizing them as part of your identity, then you will resuscitate them every time you think about the past. Remember you are neither your feelings nor the story your mind tells about you to make sense of them. You are the vast silence that knows of their emergence and their disappearance.

Haemin Sunim, The Things you can See only when You Slow Down

To be celebrated

A new month dawns. Brighter days. Moving further into Spring…

Once upon a time,
When women were birds,
There was the simple understanding
That to sing at dawn
And to sing at dusk
Was to heal the world through joy.
The birds still remember what we have forgotten,
That the world is meant to be celebrated.

Terry Tempest Williams, born 1955, American writer, educator, conservationist, and activist