just be it It’s about the work involved in establishing a dedicated practice to feelings of a bigger belonging through practices aimed at increasing feelings of compassion, gratitude and forgiveness

Lauds…the Lighting of the Day

There’s something magical about the first light of the day. There’s a ‘waking up’ to the conscious state after being asleep. As we celebrate the coming of light we’re each destined to express the divine mystery in our own unique way. I’ve always loved the breaking of silence that comes long before the sun’s rise, the first bird to sing. As a youngster I was taken with curiosity and enthusiasm for the day, raised on a farm filled with the mystery of life. Now in my latter half of time in this body, entropy has made this task more challenging given the typical aches in the body. Yet, there’s tremendous gift to be recognized, honoring this special gift of the next breath. Brother David Steindl-Rast has written:

If we were to learn to avail ourselves of those countless opportunities to enjoy, to dwell in the gift of being alive, then, when the moment comes to do something difficult, we could see that, too, as an opportunity and gratefully take advantage of it. p. 31 “The Music of Silence”

He calls this celebration of the gift ‘joy’. It’s the kind of happiness that doesn’t depend on our expectations. He calls it our ‘wholehearted response to whatever opportunity is given to us in any moment’. Then we can be happy no matter what. He points out the mistake to think we’re grateful because we’re happy. Better to realize that happy is a necessary consequence of gratitude. Lauds is a perfect time of the day to fill with thanks for grace given in our rising, meeting life’s next breath.

There’s a guided meditation that’s nothing but breathing in “yes” and breathing out “thank you”. During this lighting of the day, it’s a beautiful way to fill with mana for finding strength in meeting whatever comes up. It’s fuel for holding positive energy and for dismissing negative, complaining thoughts. This is a wonderful time to re-affirm our vows to not cause harm, to foster harmony, to not take what hasn’t been offered, to be careful in our speech and relationships to others, and to commit to further awakening rather than numbing ourselves to sleep with intoxicants.

As a youngster, I held more concrete beliefs about the divine mystery. My ancestral religion, Lutheran, asked me to profess my belief in certain thoughts. Yet, my deeper relationship to the divine came in these early morning hours. This is where spirituality was found:

“Spirituality is not religion. It is a path for us to generate happiness, understanding, and love, so we can live deeply each moment of our life.” ‘The Art of Living” by Thich Nhat Hanh

I’ve heard that successful aging is practicing this ability to ‘live deeply each moment of our life’, to meet each moment new. Our joy is robbed when we lament the loss of what we could do in our youth or grow fear about our imminent entropy and surrender of the body. Today, I meet the lighting of the day in a different way, seeing it more as a lighting of the spirit. In youth I seemed to put more attention to waking the body and mind. Today, it’s more about finding balance and stability in the body/mind as the work/discipline is undertaken to waken spirit in readiness to the vast divine mystery. I see, hear, smell, taste and touch things more deeply. More work is put to ‘not taking things for granted’. We can deny impermanence, attaching to our achievements, material accumulations and any other number of identifications, or we can embrace the surprise of what comes up in pure wonder. Einstein said we can see nothing as a miracle or everything as a miracle. Lauds is the easiest time of the day for me to fill with awe for the miracle. It’s the time to humble ourselves in that which is so much bigger than our concept of who we are, a time for the ‘self to settle into the Self’, it’s a time to ‘be still and know God’.

Good morning sunshine… you light my spirit and fill me with strength to find the gift in the given.


Vision Poster

Finding Balance, Finding Peace

Complete balance is found when we’re in complete presence. Full awareness to the unfolding present moment comes in that space between thoughts. Thoughts are verbal and by nature, dichotomous. There’s a subject/object division that’s working. The felt experience of complete balance comes when we’re free from the thinking mind, free from judgments, totally engaged in just being here and now. However, it’s of our nature to continuously move in and out of this experience of presence. It’s why a dedicated practice is so important. The more we work with opening this nonverbal space, the more we can extend it, the more solid our life experience is. While the stress in our life is the space between where we are and where our dissatisfied mind wants to be, the peace in our life is found in the gap between thought. While our thinking mind is forever busy chattering away, the stilled mind is solid, fresh and spaciously settling into something much bigger than our typical small identifications, the ones which have led to the illusion of our separateness.

Within the event of present moment awareness comes a deeper knowing. Not only do we find balance, but we touch the yoga moment, that instant where we break past our illusions of separateness. One teacher describes this as a ‘bounce’, because as soon as our conscious mind recognizes this awakened state, poof, we’re back in the dual world. Yet, the more we meet the present moment fully, the more we smash the illusion of division, the more our faith brings us back to dedicated practice. There’s no notion of attaining an end to our restless, verbal mind. That kind of grasping just works against the peace we so enjoy. Rather, there’s an urgent sense to be more careful with a deeper commitment to not cause harm. This moment of awakening brings us to realization that we are each other, that everything is connected, and when we cause harm to any thing or being, we’re causing harm to ourselves. It’s within a deeper awareness of the arising present moment we find our best action. Finding balance and rhythm is finding that spaciousness between thought, touching the nonverbal in a deeper awareness.

A ‘verbal detox’ is about being our best in action, thought and emotion because we’ve deepened our sense of awareness to the interconnected nature of all things. It’s about rhythm, balance, harmony and moments of stillness as we witness the opportunity of each arising moment. It’s about cultivating skills in dismissing the storehouse of negative thought and emotion and growing the storehouse of positive action and thought in deepening experience of gratitude, forgiveness and compassion.

Gravity from the negative mind of dissatisfaction works us throughout our day. A ‘verbal detox’ retreat is meant to be your opportunity to heal from the energy drain of these thoughts. It’s designed as a space to refresh, clear, and build an inner confidence in facing what’s coming up, no matter what, with a new found grounding. That’s our vision, to ‘show up, deepen our attention, be our best, and let go our grasping for control of the results’, touching a deeper balance, a deeper peace.

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