You are silence and life, stillness and motion, the space for all emotions, and the vibration of bliss. You are everything and nothing, and your birthright is joy.
You can live from a place where wisdom speaks to and through you, where problems offer up their own gentle answers, and where healing comes from your own smile.
You are now, and not a future or differently-imaged version of yourself.
A hiker who joined my silent hiking group asked me what I did, and I said I write spiritual books — but am thinking about teaching meditation in either group sessions or one-on-one.
They asked me how meditation can be taught, rather than just practiced, and I thought about it for a moment. Whenever the mind is stopped, silence welcomes me. That silence, of the trees, the shy sun ducking behind a cloud, and the dust swirling from the group’s footsteps, all answered for me.
I said, to help another on the spiritual path you only have to share an ounce of yourself and a pound of Truth.
You only have to stand, not facing each other, but side-by-side, looking to the sunrise together, as you speak or not, walk or not, laugh or not, all from the connected, silent appreciation of dawning light.
To share, you only have to dip into yourself deeply enough that there is no one left to share from.
I moved over to Santa Barbara from Ojai recently. Ojai is a beautiful town, filled with room for contemplation and surrounded by mountains welcoming hikers with watching embraces. It is a tiny town, with little traffic, noise or distractions, but it was getting a bit too isolating for me.
I will never forget the gift that the three years in Ojai gave me: reconnecting to the quiet within to such a depth that it birthed a desire to open up my heart and share it somehow… with writing being the current expression of that.
Today I hiked up Rattlesnake Canyon Trail, along a babbling creek, pestering flies, and heavy heat. I was thrilled by the lack of stillness in me, the dance of that center inside, that made-up, simultaneous victim and controller of the story that spins like a top, unable to stop flipping between pasts and futures.
I was thrilled by the lack of stillness because it made it more precious when I dropped back to stillness every now and then on the hike. It felt like a sigh coupled with a smile, an easy-going free-ness, a return home.
More poetry from my next book, Little Bites of Truth. I quickly make these images with free clipart, and I am liking how the background image does still the mind as the poem is read.
So, if my next book does well, I might take a selection of some of the poetry and put them out in a full-color image book.
The weather was beautiful this morning, with cool breezes tasting warm skin as I hiked the side of my favorite mountain. Volunteers had recently trimmed the grasses beside the trail — some of which, after this especially rainy winter, had been taller than I — so it was nice to be able to see down to the valley while walking.
Some days my hikes bring silence, where nature itself seems to tiptoe in and whisper its breath into my head to calm it to acquiescence. But today my mind was particularly noisy, always wanting to fall back to daydreams. I projected Zubin into the future and past, making him the star of imagined vignettes, ranging across titles such as, What to Write Later On, or, I Remember When…
Every time something would bring me back to the moment, such as passing another hiker, or a startled bird taking off at my approach, I melted into the now, disappearing enough that the heat, dust, and nature-smells were the only things hiking. But then, just as easily, another daydream would filter in to displace the mindlessness.
I remember hiking when I used to live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and being obsessed with having a quiet mind. I would think that I was failing if I wasn’t hyper focused on nature, and would force myself to always return to whatever my senses were feeding in.
Today, I stood at the top of the trail and rested for a moment while looking down at the city. I chuckled to myself, for I saw haze forming clouds and breeze fanning bushes, and also clearly saw I was nothing other than the source of both daydreams and silence.
I was busy with work and so only took a very quick walk this morning at the VRP (Ventura River Preserve). I haven’t been there in almost a year, so it was nice to walk the dusty, familiar trails. A few people out on horses nodded as they passed. The horses seemed to nod too, but perhaps they were just trying to get rid of pestering flies.
I walked by a tree with peeling bark and thanked it for its uniqueness, and by the time I got to the uphill part of the path, began thanking my heart for picking up its beat. The river was full of water — the fullest I have seen it in two years, so I stood for a while to hear the laughing of its motion. I found the boulders to walk across, but couldn’t leave just yet, so I stopped and thanked the water for its aliveness.
As I stood, I felt a free and open space inside. That space was a mix of openness, appreciation, self-recognition, and happiness, all due to seeing and feeling — over the past few weeks — that my stubborn habits had dissolved forever.
Even though I lost a hundred pounds fifteen years ago, my peace with overeating was always tenuous. Some years I’d be active and eat healthy, other years I’d go through patches of binging, of once again running from life and pain to food.
The last year I went through a challenging dark-night, where the habit of escaping seemed to come back as strong as when they were first born. I binged and binged, had some clear weeks where I breathed easy, but then the whole thing repeated. It felt like dark hands tightening around my neck and life.
Every time the urge to run to food arose, I tried to look at the sadness underneath it, for I had seen in the past that that sadness was only a rumbling of love. But even so, my thought patterns were too overpowering in their bargaining. They would win out and I would give in.
Over the past month, I began looking at other energies, at boredom, at happiness, at shapes and forms like trees and chairs, and began getting more entrenched in seeing all these energies as me. Armed with this ‘spiritual breathing room’, when sadness returned, I dove more fully into it, and saw it so clearly. The intensity of the emotion translated to an intensity of Loving self-recognition when not run from.
The trickling of the water took me out of the inner free space and to the freedom of the outer. The water was no different than me, as were the trees, rocks, and flitting lizards. The energy of habits painted the sky and two stubborn clouds still lingering, for that energy was no different than the plain elusiveness of me as everything-ness.