Light and darkness

Go slowly
Consent to it
But don’t wallow in it
Know it as a place of germination
And growth
Remember the light
Take an outstretched hand if you find one
Exercise unused senses
Find the path by walking it
Practice trust
Watch for dawn.

Marilyn Chandler McEntyre, What to do in the Darkness

Sunday quote: All is here

The shortest days of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. Yesterday was very foggy here in Ireland. Darkness and light, shadows and haze. Metaphors for the different experiences we have to work with in our lives.

A certain darkness is needed to see the stars



Past present and future

The past is already past — don’t try to regain it. 

The present does not stay, don’t try to touch it from moment to moment. 

The future is not come, don’t think about it beforehand.

Layman Pang, 740 – 808, Chinese Chan layman.

Finding your Song

Harry Roberts was one of my teachers when I lived at the San Francisco Zen Center’s Green Gulch Farm. Harry liked to boil almost any instruction down to 3 essential tasks:

The first, and not necessarily most important task, is to quiet the busyness in your mind.

The second is to find your song.

The third is to sing that song.

Finding your song describes your ability to access your deep power — which is your appreciation for being alive. This embraces both who you are and all that you have right now as well as the greater possibilities you imagine and envision for the future. We can hear our song more easily when our minds are quiet, when we can reflect on what is truly engaging and important to us — what brings us the greatest sense of belonging and of accomplishment. Finding our song means discovering our fierce and tender heart, where we feel deeply connected to all that surrounds us. 

Mark Lesser, 3 Practices for Simplifying Your Life

Sunday Quote: Working with the conditions in our life

Another storm system passing over Ireland today, in the very wet Autumn which we are having.

As the Arab proverb says: 

“The nature of the rain is the same,

but it makes thorns grow in the marshes

and flowers in the gardens

Anthony de Mello, Awareness

Forest bathing

We all know intuitively that going outside is good for us, and a growing foundation of science and neuroscience underlies the health benefits of being outdoors. In the 1980s, the secretary of Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries coined the term shinrin-yoku for making contact with and being affected—both physically and mentally—by the atmosphere of the forest. Shinrin-yoku translates in the West as “forest bathing” and is part of what I call the green cure: connecting with the natural world to help us thrive physically, cognitively, emotionally, and even spiritually.

You need only the most basic equipment: Leave your camera, your journal, and your guidebooks behind, and turn off your mobile devices. Forest bathing is about being, not analyzing.

Find some trees….Find somewhere to sit or lean, where you can be still for 10-20 minutes or more without being in the way of bicycle traffic, ants, or poison ivy.

Now do just that — be still.  Be aware of your breath, but don’t force it. Let the experience come to you, don’t analyze. See what you see, hear what you hear, smell what you smell, feel what you feel. Light through the leaves…skittering or birdsong…blossom or decay…calm or grounded…

Alice Peck, Let Nature Heal You, in Mindful