Life is Me

 

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We are not here to hide
behind the veil of our fears,
glimpsing out into the world
as though it is not always
running wildly within us,
as though we are not
part of the bright evolution

We are not here to be
more faint, muted or faded
than the world we balk from
as though we need to be smaller,
or for our actions be less brave
than the the bold expressions
that stir our souls everyday

We are here to sing like the opera
that glitters under our skin,
to dance to the rhythmic cadences
that spring from Earth’s core,
to sculpt our bodies like gold and
feel it rise through us like fire:
This life is ours to claim!

– TS

All the Brilliant Things

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sometimes
i want to gather
the most exquisite patterns
the most transporting paintings
like a mural-sized piece of outsider art
I found once by a Japanese artist in Toronto
that put a lifetime of colour and emotion onto one plane
together with the books
that fold all the way through time
that i can only spread out in my imagination
and it is not a spreading out so much as
a tunneling through, an accordion expansion
so that i can traverse them as i would
a dense forest trail in which everything lives
and also every loved one
i would like to gather
all of this brilliance around me
like a pile of crisp autumn leaves
and I’d like to take a deep breath at dawn
and finally, finally understand what i have,
and say thank you for waiting, and dive right in. TS

Seeing Peace

mandala of love (from one of our wedding photos)

like pouring love
over an open field
 
or making hot tea
made of comfort
 
finding moss
made of patience
 
an elixir of innocence
in freshly-fallen snow
 
like the sun turning
flitting leaves to gold
 
like a hug that
changes the world
 
we make our way there
through here and now,
 
tinting what we find
with our aspirations,
 
inflecting these with
our every action,
 
so that we can see hope
so that we can touch peace. – TS

Our Many, Our Whole

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My body, my land.

Containing all the stories

all the world in it,

but they are not all my own.

The whole is not simple,

vague or even pure.

We must never stop

listening to how this swirl

this totality morphs into the

particularities of me and

you, as we strive

and struggle to bring ourselves

to the whole with compassion

and understanding.

We are one, yes,

but it doesn’t end here;

we are still so incomplete

in our knowing,

if not our being.

May we always

listen

honour

respect

commit

to the mosaic of our

distinct stories.

Our bodies

Our landscapes,

Our jewels

build something

beautiful together. – TS

Come Undone

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undo the knotted breath
loosen the tightened grip
 
unsee the ordinary view
unhear the stained words
 
unmake the false construction
tear down the soiled edifice
 
unlearn the tainted lesson
ungrow the poisonous weed
 
say no to incoherent ideology
stand against the bile of untrue
 
unbelieve what feels wrong
unattempt to fit right in
 
unlove what has condition
unadmire what leads astray
 
unemcumber your beautiful body
unclutter your precious mind
 
but don’t stop here,
don’t stop here!
 
ours is a world to create
ours is a love to discover
 
let us first unravel the mess
so as to learn and build again. – TS

15 Ways To Make Friends With Your Mind.

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You know them when you see them: people who radiate joy, don’t sweat the small stuff, naturally attract people to them and who seem to be in a pretty constant state of peace.

What do these people have in common? Well, they’ve all worked hard to tame the beast within and turn their minds into their greatest allies. For the rest of us, life might look a little bit like this: worrying, regretting past actions, stressing out about potential future events, spinning out of control, retreating to worlds of fantasy and distraction … sound familiar?

You don’t want to feel like this. You might be thinking about starting meditation and mindfulness practices, to become more Zen, but don’t know how where to start. As you work up to your Namaste, then, it can be helpful to try a few practical things aimed at familiarizing yourself with the lifelong companion that is your mind, which you definitely want on your team!

1: Recognize that you are not your mind.

Here’s a telltale sign: you can actually observe your thoughts and feelings as they come up, which means you are not inextricably bound with them. This awareness is truly a revolution, and the first step toward empowering yourself to begin the work of calming the mind down and getting it on your side.

“To find out what is truly individual in ourselves, profound reflection is needed; and suddenly we realize how uncommonly difficult the discovery of individuality is.” – C.G. Jung

2: Become a witness of your mind.

Your mind is capable of extraordinary things once you learn to take the reins. One of the main purposes of meditation is to connect to the present moment by accessing your inner witness. Rest quietly and become aware of your body and immediate surroundings. Observe thoughts as they arise and slip away; they will do this over and over. As you distance yourself from your thoughts and feelings, you’ll start to wonder you we attach so deeply to ephemera that come and go like clouds in the sky.

“To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.” – attributed to Buddha

3: Be careful what you put into your mind.

In some ways, the mind is very simple: it builds on what you feed it. If you funnel negativity into it, it will soon be hard not to feel negative, because the mind – which is not your enemy, just doing its job – adjusts and happily works with what it’s given. This is known in neuroscience as “plasticity” : our brains work with new stimuli no matter how old we are. Letting the good stuff in will actually, if slowly, make it easier for you to feel positive over time.

“I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.” – Mahatma Gandhi

4: Explore your mind like it’s a foreign country

The best kind of travel is all about being curious, having no expectations, and being ready to be dazzled, even enlightened by what we find. Take the time to be in stillness with your mind and contemplate the thoughts and feelings you find there; they have a lot to teach you about your coping patterns and how you have come to view the world over time. In short: discover yourself!

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” – Dalai Lama

5: Distinguish between knowledge and wisdom

Knowledge involves learning facts and developing the intellect. You might come to realize that accumulating knowledge does not make you feel any happier. Wisdom, on the other hand, involves learning from our life’s experiences about what is meaningful so we can live our best possible lives with heart. Learning things is great, but acquiring wisdom is invaluable.

‘Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers.’ – Lord Alfred Tennyson

6: Embrace compassion, the gateway to happiness
As we focus more on wisdom than gathering information, we come to understand whey we are really here: to benefit others and know deep within that we don’t want anyone to suffer, as we ourselves don’t want to suffer. Cultivating empathy compassion through meditation and contemplation is one of the best things we can do by encouraging the mind to serve our purpose of being agents of good in a world that badly needs it.

“More smiling, less worrying. More compassion, less judgment. More blessed, less stressed. More love, less hate.” – Roy T. Bennett

7: Seek truths that thought cannot produce

The rational mind computes, analyzes, discriminates and assesses very well, but left to its own devices, it does not naturally guide you toward greater consciousness. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get there! The mind just need some coaxing. Attempt to remember your dreams. Comb your mind for things people have said to you in the past that struck you as wise. Don’t dismiss insights; write them down. Embrace synchronicities that seem to fall on your lap. Recognize wisdom and deeper truth for what it is and let it support your conscious life.

“To understand the immeasurable, the mind must be extraordinarily quiet, still.” – Jiddu Krishmanurti

8: Listen to your heart and your gut and let them win

Contrary to conventional belief, it’s been shown that reason and emotions are not two passing trains in the night. Our emotions actually guide our rational and cognitive functioning to a large extent, and our “gut” area has come be known as our second brain. Don’t rationalize your gut instincts away: take the time to listen to the messages you receive from your body and inner wisdom.

“When the heart speaks, the mind finds it indecent to object.” – Milan Kundera, “The Unbearable Lightness of Being

9: Tend to your mind like a garden

Before we start on the garden, it looks like a mess of jumbled weeds and dried clumps of earth. Who wants to go there? But with effort, you end up with a gorgeous kingdom of your creation, full of beauty, nutrients and wonder. So it is with the mind – with a little pruning, love and care, persistently attended to every day, it can grow into a gorgeous and fruitful splendor.

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” – Plutarch

10: Develop equanimity

Equanimity means regarding the things you experience without judgment. Stop liking things so much that you can’t live without them, and stop focusing energy on despising things, which only strengthens their iron grip on you. Practice observing your reactions to things, and notice how naming and being aware of these reactions helps make them less intense over time.

“It is simply sitting silently, witnessing the thoughts, passing before you. Just witnessing, not interfering not even judging, because the moment you judge you have lost the pure witness. The moment you say “this is good, this is bad,” you have already jumped onto the thought process.” – Osho

11: Allow wonder in

Little kids are so full of awe at everything they encounter – we can be that way again too! The world is really a playground, and we are infinitely lucky to be in it. Life isn’t always going to be easy, but you can access that innocent, childlike wonder anytime by opening eye and heart to the magic all around us. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself for it!

“There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million.” – Walt Streightiff

12: Slow down and be silent

We’ve all experienced the overwhelm that comes with trying to be productive all the time. It’s time to stop burning yourself out. Carve time in the day to spend time with loved ones, enjoy the rewards of your labor and reflect on your life. There’s a reason we’re afraid of silence; here we are forced to confront ourselves, and it’s not always pretty. But in coming face to face with our demons, you can overcome them and ease through to peace and harmony.

“Silence is the language of Om. We need silence to be able to reach our Self. Both internal and external silence is very important to feel the presence of that supreme Love.” – Amit Ray

13: Know that you don’t have to be defined by your stories.

Humans have an amazing capacity for storytelling and to create identities based on the stories we tell. It’s key to keep in mind that in choosing which stories you tell and whih memories you latch onto, you are reinforcing certain aspects of your identity, for better or worse. Stories are fluid and can always be rewritten.

“A student, filled with emotion and crying, implored, “Why is there so much suffering?”
Suzuki Roshi replied, “No reason.” – Shunryu Suzuki

14: Replace “what ifs” for “thank you’s”

One of the “best” ways we waste time is to pine over mistakes and wonder, what if we’d done things differently? Well, we didn’t! The life we are living now is a product of the decisions we’ve made, and the best antidote to regret is gratitude. Express thanks for all the million ways in which your life is awesome and worth celebrating, and more of that is bound to come

“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.” – Maya Angelou

15: Take a walk in nature, be wild and write a poem about it

You don’t have to literally write a poem, but tapping into your creativity is also tapping into your nature. Nature and creation go hand in hand. Humans are among nature’s most awe-inspiring creations, and so much of the discord we feel comes from how far we’ve strayed from our roots. We are designed to think and feel more clearly when aligned with nature’s rhythms. Doing things like breathing clean forest air, sitting under trees and using our natural-born creativity – whether you think you are “good” or not – will do wonders to restore the mind and get it working in your best interest.

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.” – John Muir