Concentrated Stillness — A Path to Healing

"Nothing in all creation is so like God as stillness." Meister Eckhart

I woke up a few mornings ago with the whirlies.  Technically, it’s called, Meniere’s disease, which is an inner ear disorder that affects balance and/or hearing.  Here’s how this dis-ease manifests itself in me; I feel as I’ve been living on a small boat adrift at sea for months on end. Even though I’ve been given permission to come ashore, my sea legs carry me like a drunken sailor and the horizon becomes one big teeter totter, moving up and down, to and fro.  My stomach goes on the fritz, the wiring in my brain gets tangled, and I become terribly, terribly tired.  My ‘To Do’ list is replaced with a ‘Can’t  Do’ List.   I can’t: read, write, cook, practice my healing arts, do yoga, ride my horse, drive, care for my family or friends, tend to my animals, take a walk in nature — can’t really participate much in the doingness of my life.  With no fuel in the tank, no wind in the sails, unmoored, and shipwrecked on an isolated island called, the Duxiana, I sip peppermint tea and water, peck at Basmati rice, and rest.

Concentrated stillness. I read those words in a book by Sue Monk Kidd.  She writes that stillness can be the prayer that transforms us. Maybe the whirlies show up to get me to stop spinning like a top, and become motionless; to stop doing and start being.  With nowhere to go, with no place to be – where can I go but within? Inside myself I come face to face with my anxiety, I greet my restlessness and I give sadness a hug.  I reacquaint myself with judgment whose vitriolic voice chides me for taking time ‘off.’  I let these feelings flow through me, and work diligently on NOT beating myself up; I see that medieval club I’ve used for most of my life, sitting there, calling me, but I ignore it’s song.  Okay, maybe I do pick it up, but thank God for the whirlies, (did I just say that?)  I don’t have the strength it takes to lift that weighty stick and start pummeling myself. I resolve to remain in concentrated stillness; to just wait in the moment and do nothing.  Zilch, zip, nada, this is my morning mantra.

Three days later, I awake with great care and open my eyes.  My dog Eli, lifts his head and stares at me.  The room is still, I smile at him, he wags his smile back with his tail.  I get up and I walk a straight path to the bathroom.  I Am back on terra firma and it feels wonderful!

Mid day I meditate on my beloved porch and ponder the teachings bestowed upon me as I navigated the turbulent sea of the whirlies.  This is what has been brought to my awareness:  Perhaps our greatest healing manifests itself in stillness.  Perhaps in stillness we can truly touch our heart and spirit with a hushed reverence.  Perhaps there we can hear the voice of intuition whispering to us that which is true, necessary and healing.  Perhaps in stillness we reawaken to our Divine strength and wisdom.  Perhaps.

So, it is back to life I go.  Back to the doing of life, but even in this world where achievement rules supreme, where drive thru experiences take too long and instant manifestation is a spiritual practice, I will rest.  And do you know why?   Because “In six days God made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day rested and was refreshed.”  And if it’s good enough for God, it’s good enough for me.

Trees – A Dance Between Heaven and Earth

We experienced a horrific storm here in Ojai the other day.  I knew we were in for some ‘weather’ because I had broken my ribs on the right side of my body many years ago, and they get achy hours before it grows damp outside.  I’m a walking barometer!  I awoke that morning to the sound of gale force winds and falling rain banging on our bedroom windows as if it had to come inside or perish. Personally, I don’t like the wind.  I’m like my horse that way; it makes me feel like there’s some type of danger lurking around the bend.  I feel chaotic inside my body and I go into hyper alert mode.  I’m not much of an alarmist, but I definitely had a foreboding feeling as I stepped outside with my husband to attend to our animals.  Our dog, Emma, God’s purest expression of joy, was glued to my side, tail tucked, head down.  She usually romps with such exuberance and freedom.  If I hadn’t been feeling apprehensive myself, I’d have thought that Emma was abducted by aliens and replaced with a ‘walk in.’ It took us several hours to clean, feed, and settle the critters, (chickens, bunnies, guinea pigs). Battening down the hatches with tarps for extra protection made me feel like I was on board The Andrea Gail preparing to face ‘the perfect storm.’

All day long, the tempest raged.  Even in the comfort of our home, Emma and I were behaving like nervous Nellies.  Right before sunset, the winds stopped, and the rain fizzled to a drizzle.  We stepped outside to check on the animals.   It was eerily quiet, and the yard looked as if it had been through a blender; bits and pieces of tree limbs and shiny, newly sprung leaves were strewn everywhere.  Walking the entire property, we discovered that we had lost a pepper tree and a pine tree, but what brought me to my knees was an uprooted oak tree.  I love, love, love the mighty oak.  They grow abundantly here in California.  This particular oak was probably well over 100 years old.  It felt to me that she had intentionally missed our barn by inches.

After the initial shock of seeing this magnificent, old tree felled, I walked over to her, touched the trunk of this fallen angel, thanked her for gracing our home, for being, and then I cried at the sight of her demise.  For me, losing a tree hurts like hell.  I’m a tree climbing, tree hugging, tree planting nutter.

Trees ground me. They’re a perfect balance of heaven and earth.  Trees reflect an uncanny willingness to join earth and sky through their roots, trunks and branches and channel the energies of both. They dance with the wind, change with the season, grow tall and strong, quietly, devotedly — embracing their beauty, and realizing their potential.  They’ve mastered the fine art of ‘give and take.’  Their roots absorb from the earth what they need, taking in moisture from the soil, returning it into the air via their leaves.  They welcome with open arms the light from the sky, using it to nourish its foliage, converting carbon dioxide into oxygen, promoting good, clean air for us to breathe.  They are a shining example of an ever-evolving ecosystem with an easy-going, co-operative work ethic that we can only hope to model some day.  They give us shelter, fire, fruit, lumber, soil, paper, and shade, and house many a critter.

Please don’t tell my girl, Emma, but…a tree just might be man’s best friend—the most noble and giving form of life here on earth!

Do yourself a favor…Sit beneath, beside or in front of a tree.  Now wait, wait, and wait some more.  Be still, very still. For here you will find the possibility of growth.

Lions and tigers and blogs…oh my!

I can’t believe I’m doing this…blogging, that is.  I feel like the cowardly lion in the Wizard of Oz.  I don’t have the COURAGE it takes to reveal myself; to show up, so to speak.  I was amazingly good at hide and seek as a child.  Who knew, I’d use those skills for most of my life.  It’s hard for me to even fathom that what I actually believe or have to say is relevant.  I Am the cowardly lion.  No, wait.  Not the cowardly lion, no, I Am the tin man.  DO I HAVE THE HEART to blog?  I had a heart when I was young.  It was alive and well and living in the San Fernando Valley, a long time ago.  It pumped joy, play, and wonder.  If I submerged myself in the bathtub, held my breath and lay there quietly, I could hear it.  No, wait, I’m not the tin man.  I can definitely hear my heart beating.  I think my neighbors can hear my heart pounding away in my chest because this is my very first blog and I’m terrified.  It’s just that my heart feels more like a hard hat heart, just doing its job — the joyful, playful, awestruck heart is hiding in a very safe place.  Wait.  I’m not the tin man; he was my least favorite character of the three.  Seriously, I liked the flying monkeys and the wicked witch better than the tin man.  I Am the scarecrow. I love the scarecrow.   I used to have a BRAIN.  A pretty good one, if I say so myself. It was witty, wise, whimsical and sometimes downright insightful.  But the fog of menopause rolled in and took all of that away.  My brain is on pause…If I can just get through this never-ending, 24 hour, 7 day a week roller coaster ride of hot flashes, (Is anybody else sweating like a long distant runner in the Mojave Desert?), mood swings, (I love you, no…I hate you, I really, really hate you!), weight gain (I do believe the dry cleaner is shrinking my clothes), insomnia (My beloved dog, Eli, refuses to sleep with me because I have restless sleeper syndrome) I know my brain will reveal itself to me.  Olly, Olly, Oxen free!

I just realized I Am Blogging…I do have courage.  I do have a heart.  And, I do have a brain.  And I have many, many things to say.  Of motherhood, marriage, family, near death (not once, but twice), dis-ease, spirituality, friendship, animals, books, cooking, movies and menopause aka mind-on-pause.  I hope you’ll read my blog. Perhaps together we can enlighten, ease the feelings of aloneness, step into our magnificence, sit with the fear, frolic in the poppy field, and find our way home.