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

Thinking About Wingin’?

I’ve seen some magazine articles touting how easy it is to learn the Wing board. I have a different opinion. I’m 72 years old and have decades of experience placing my body on a single surface board. I first started with windsurfing in 1981, kite boarding in 2001, surfing in 2011, windsurf foiling in 2014 and started with wing surfing five years ago. There’s a progression that happens as we become more proficient in any new tool. We first have to be more involved with the head, listening to others, watching videos, learning the step-by-step procedures for better riding. The term “water time” is key to understanding our progression. Today’s turnkey mentality wants rapid success. Yet, there’s a fair amount of time needed before we move from the head to the heart in our riding, and this is certainly dependent on our age. When I see what people are doing with the wing board I am humbled and recognize I am far from expert. I see youngsters who have a small fraction of the water time I have taking it to the limits I’ll never know. Yet, I may have more wisdom in what’s going on and hope to express it to you so that you have an easier time learning. When I first started to wing board I had over 30 years experience using a wing with a snowboard in the winter. The creation of the inflatable wing was a major renovation. The first year they came out there were problems, but today the rigidity and design elements have made them true works of art. Each year, just like designs in windsurf and kite boarding are forever tweaked for easier and better performance, designs in wing boarding continue to evolve at amazing progress. These innovations make it easier to surrender from the head to the heart in our riding. Just like jazz is taking the handcuffs off, fighting for freedom to move from sheet music to freeform, freedom in riding is the same. It takes the empty mind, the ‘don’t know mind’ that can surrender to the next surprise around the corner, to allow the equipment to move into new territory as it’s presented by nature. When we’re moving to the extreme, just past our level of ability, we can’t be thinking about who we are, how good we are, who’s watching us, etc. There’s a place where we move past the “subject versus object“, fully surrendered into the unfolding present moment. This moment is fresh, it’s solid from the confidence from hours, days and years of water time, it’s clear and spacious. This experience is part of our practice in deepening alignment, balance and awareness. It’s why it fits so well with yoga, meditation practices, and music. The intention is to wake up to the illusion of being separate. The intention is to become the water, the wave, the wind, the sun, the clouds…beyond any notion of who I “think“ I am. With this comes a deeper connection to nature, to others sharing the elements on the water or in the song, a deeper sense of belonging. There’s a “great fullness“ in the body. The sense of a wheel out of kilter diminishes. We cultivate that place of “no complaint no complaint“. This feeling good is so powerful and lets us know what we’re here for.  Many would say we do this as an addiction for our own selfish pleasure. For me, it’s an important part of my practice, the practice of breathing in “yes“ and breathing out “thank you”. It’s the practice of finding the gift in the given. It’s the practice of never taking things for granted and doing the hard work of deepening balance and alignment in the midst of most turbulent times. No doubt, we all experience the earthquakes of disease, injury and eventually the shedding of the body. We have the capacity to face these difficult conditions in rhythm, with harmony, and appreciation for the grace given by allowing us to “just be”.

Meditating on the Same Platform as Bees

One of my favorite sitting spot is in the forest looking at the sunrise. I can hear the birds, the frogs, the wind and the occasional passing car on the distant road. It’s a process of just putting attention to the breath, returning to the present moment and letting judgment go. No doubt, emotions arise and the work is to allow them and see how they change, forever letting thoughts go as they arise. Sitting with bees takes great awareness since they seem to be able to sense fear. When I was young we had the state’s largest cottonwood tree in our yard. My father’s high school friend was a beekeeper. One afternoon our yard was filled with bees that had been living in that tree without our awareness. We were terrified looking at the prospect of multiple stings. When the beekeeper and his children arrived they told us to relax and allow the bees to land on us. We thought they were crazy. Soon their bodies were covered with bees without incident. They encouraged us to stand with equanimity and allow the bees to be our friends. We, too, were covered with bees without being stung. This seems to be a primary goal in life, to hold equanimity in the face of perceived danger. Some have used the acronym for fear as “false expectations appearing real“. When we lose our balance, reacting from anger or fear, the action usually has collateral damage. Last night my son‘s dog was filled with anxiety from fireworks. He came to me with pleading eyes and barked loudly directly in my ear. Almost instinctively I slapped his head in anger. I felt awful. My wife looked at me and walked away in disgust. I later apologized for my actions, to my wife and to the dog. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every time we lost equanimity and struck out in defense if we could see the collateral damage immediately? Wouldn’t it also be wonderful if we were like the bees knowing that if we stung we would die too? I believe we would come to better know that the damage we caused others we caused ourselves. There’s no doubt that when we take the life of another our lives are deeply impacted. Whether it’s the altered life of a homeowner who shoots an intruder, the policeman who takes a life of a perceived threat, or the combat soldier who is taking the life of a father, their lives are generally changed forever. The collateral damage is often mental distress, suicide, post traumatic stress syndrome, etc., the list goes on and on. Rarely can someone say I’m so glad I killed that person. I often wonder why the Divine didn’t help us in this matter by giving us one shot like the bee gets. If we knew that any time we shot someone taking their life we would lose ours as well the number of killings on this planet would be tremendously reduced. I suspect we would continue to have those with fundamentalist beliefs willing to sacrifice their lives in the name of their ideology. Whether it be kamikaze pilots, suicide bombers, or young children hoping to be initiated into a violent gang, murders and killings and wars would be radically diminished with the exception of the martyr/hero mind. I suspect we would see less violent murder and glorification of war in our media. I’m sure gun ownership would radically diminish. I suspect those who had guns would take it much more seriously training themselves in awareness to responsible use. Could it be the Japanese understood this with their very strict laws on gun ownership? I recently heard deaths from gun violence in that country were less than 10 a year while the United States has 45,000 deaths a year. When we look at our own personal safety being carried away by fear, by false expectations appearing real, it would seem our best barrier is to stay away from media that promotes fear and anger. It would seem our best defense is to practice awareness and equanimity in the presence of bees. And when mosquitoes arrive to suck the blood from the body it would seem best to apply repellent rather than trying to kill them all. This is what the practice of meditation on a beehive is about. I can only hope that if when we use lethal force it comes from love rather than fear. I can only hope that the police officer responding to a violent situation has a primary intention of establishing peace through skillful means rather than exerting lethal force as the parental authority figure entitled to take another life without consequence. When we can look at the mess it’s created from taking another life we may come to see that we are much like the bee that stings and then dies.

Can you imagine our medical system changing more and more to this strategy? Rather than fighting the cancer cells and challenging it to fight back, perhaps it’s better to educate the cancer cell to realize that when the whole body dies it will die too. Similarly, when humanity recognizes that are fighting each other leads us closer to our species annihilation, whether it be the release of a nuclear weapon, continuation of wars, ignoring of climate change and refugees, the dirtying of our water, or the uncontrolled weaponization and willingness to kill each other, our thought of “us versus them” is an illusion obstructing true healing and wholeness.  The bee is me.

Moving to the Light

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