This week’s pause is about “wondering”. I spend the majority of my life wondering about various sorts of stuff: ideas, silly thoughts, significant life and death matters, worries, and marvels. Wondering includes the gamut of thoughts and feelings I collect, seek to relish, understand, or learn from. Wondering allows me to live with the questions, curiosity, dreaming, and awe. It requires nothing less or more from me than presence, attention, and engagement with the wondering itself. Wondering, when done wonderfully, can inspire, entertain, elevate, and navigate magic, miracles, grace and possibility into living presence and wakefulness. Wondering, when used as a driver for worrying and pre-occupation is not the kind of engagement that encourages growth in awareness, awe, or being; rather, that kind of negative wondering gets to be permanently stashed in a locked closet as far as I am concerned.
Wonder of wonders, the wonders of creation, wondering as I wander…all expressions from songs and words. Those kinds of expressions describe wonder as a delight. Wondering is to be diligently embraced as one of the highest and best ways to navigate life. Seeing the miraculous in everything, wondering when the next wonderful synchronicity will appear. Life lived as a witness to good, love, and possibility. Life lived attentive to what is and what’s next while seeking to find the wonderful in all of it is the constitution of wondering. A life comfortable questioning, thinking, feeling, all the while wondering at everything crossing its/his/her path is a life open to good, love, and possibility. Blessed are they who wonder, for they will be graced with awe, inspiration, and surprising delights.
What does it take to live the life of a wonderer? Comfort with not knowing it all, acknowledging that I am rarely if ever in control, in charge, or the authority. Openness to mystery, surrendering fear, judgment, competition, and comparison. Willingness to sit, to be present to whatever is and wonder what could be the gift of that present moment.
I often wonder if I’m living my dharma as authentically and purposefully as I could be. I wonder because I don’t know. And, I keep dreaming, exploring, savoring, and celebrating the gracious gifts of discovery, inspiration, delight, and surprise I find when I wonder my way through life today. I wonder how you are delighting in life today.
My least favorite words on the planet are negating words: the “uns”, the “nots”, the prefixes, suffixes, and adjectives that take a positive or neutral word and turn it into something denying what the first word (without the un or the not prefix, adjective, or suffix) is trying to say. I’ve wondered why in the world we have words that deny words in order to embrace what we mean to say.
I suppose it’s an historical thing. In studying historical literature I’ve read of people denying something in order to claim something. For example, I loathe cottage cheese, but I love yogurt. Especially found in religion (not the food, the denial to affirmation piece) I’ve always imagined it as the letting go/emptying that leads to intention/filling. In that ritualistic methodology, denial/affirmation works as a kind of purging/creating process which may or may not work for a spiritual aspirant of life.
There are some “un” words I like: understanding, universal, unicorn, united, unique, until—to name a few. “Un” is an acceptable word for the game, Scrabble. Not is a good three letter game word, and an often-heard admonition in school and parenting. “Not now”. “Not right”. Often associated with the word, “NO”, not has negative written all over it.
How we use our words is important to me, and “un” seems a very good example of a “less than” compilation of letters to express what I intend to say. When I say I am unhappy, wouldn’t a better word choice be a word that describes what I am rather than what I’m not? Am I sad, angry, despairing, forlorn, lost, searching, bored, caught in the in-between, grieving, mad, heartbroken? Un in front of a word creates a lot of wiggle room, (like the word “nice” or the word “okay”) We’ve been gifted great vocabulary, music, art, and dance to express ourselves. Let’s be intentional about saying what we mean and meaning what we say. No more ‘uns” or “nots” about it.
Gratefully blessed by my own company, I write this ode to Solitude. My definition of Solitude is presence with soul (I) and “the dude”( my colloquialism for God as friend, spirit, mentor, guider, truth). I hear, see, feel, touch, and taste good, love, and possibility when I create alone time for myself and the Holy Spirit that is my very source, essence, and soul of being. When I choose alone time, I allow my spirit to reach toward the loftiest vibration of being. I slow down significantly. I empty. I pour. I fill. I accept. I give thanks. I become a vessel to grow into. I become inspired, mentored from beyond, and led by unseen visions of my best self and the highest and best aspirations from my Source for being.
Solitude is a holy, sacred space for being and becoming. It’s a, “Here I am Lord!” in fullest expression journeying to the highest summit of union, congruence, and bliss. Solitude is choosing to enter a state of grace with humility, gratitude and allowance for the spiritual unfolding that always happens when Spirit invites me, and I accept my calling to journey at one with God.
From my soul time with God, I gather inspiration, connection, and creative ideology for forward movement. In my contemplative prayer, meditation, and deep listening, I let go, surrender, and empty of what doesn’t serve my best self or the highest good. I grow awareness of ways of being supporting what I’d love to bring to my experiences of life in this world, my dreams, and desires. My solo time graces me with clarity essential to moving forward in my life without fear or regret. When I’m alone in sacred time with spirit, Love holds my hand, heart, and soul. Thank you, God.
Being lonely, alone, or solitary isn’t the same as the sacred space of solitude. Solitude is sanctuary: holy, transformational, wonderful, and as necessary to my soul as breath is to my body.
Wishing you the joy and blessing of solitude as we embrace the wonders within summer’s splendor.
A Pause to Remember the Letter R with (one of her 5+favorite vowels) E…
Also Known As…
Random Thoughts About “RE”.
Many, if not all of you, can relate to the relays we relish in life. My current lifestyle of choice and repeated change may be revealed as a reminder to smell the roses, go with the flow, be present now; AND, it includes rapid action, bold maneuvers, and on point action: an integration of being and doing at an accelerated rate, hopeful to be regulated by what day it is, what step I’m on, what I’m doing, and where I’m going to remain present to whatever possibility is.
RE is a word that takes me home to myself. Second tone on a major scale, radiating light of the sun, abbreviations for many meaningful words (especially my super sister’s nickname, Susie-RE). Re as a prefix to many a word means to begin again, (refresh, renew, recreate, resurrect). To begin and to begin again and again and again, is what life is about for me. Memos often cite, “re:”, an expression relating to informing, concerning, regarding. We are relationship beings: all we choose to be, seek, find, create, do and have are guided by (a.k.a., in relationship to) that with which we resonate, what we revere, and how we relate to our vision through our chosen intention.
I especially like the word, Remembrance. For me remembrance is form of worship. It is a word that deletes the myth of linear time. Remembrance is merging all of my experience into the here and now and being blessed by all of it.
Another “re” word I love is Reveal. If all in our world could authentically reveal individual vulnerabilities, inspirations, aspirations, and share stories, fears, and longings, we can meet on common ground. Revelations and references of diverse cultures and creeds could, perhaps, seed and nourish the ultimate healing of our world with abundant peace, love, good, and possibility.
Relevant to that revelation is the reparation of what love requires in all of us. If we commit to a gracious creation for Love’s giving and receiving, we reorient our return to the reverence and radiance we were called to be as Love incarnate.
“Re, a drop of golden sun…” May light shine the way through every beginning again, leading us home to compassion, mindfulness, presence, and openness. May we bring the light and love we are to every relationship. And so it is.
This week’s pause is to consider the gift, art, and blessing of questioning as an inspiring means to navigate through life. I believe answers are ethereal, subjective, non-absolute because they continually morph into more questions. This belief justifies my proposition that the only way to reach any kind of resolution is to infinitely question and be open to what questioning unfolds. Our lives were created for discovering, uncovering and recovering. The way we travel most efficiently and gracefully is wading, wandering, and wallowing in the questions, learning to be comfortable with the asking rather than the receiving; the uncertainty, rather than the knowing; remembering that what we think we know today may be a fragile foundation for tomorrow. How one question resolved itself yesterday doesn’t assume it will do the same or similarly in the here and now.
Questioning allows us to greet every moment with hope, inquiry, and possibility; making room for surprise and inspiration to color every becoming, unfolding adventure.
To question is to ask. It is to assume I don’t know what I don’t know. I get to allow infinite opportunity for my questions to unfold into my experience and learning. When I ask, I receive—answers or more questions. It’s the unfolding of the questions that gifts me life experience: learning, loving, and God/Good, Love, Possibility.
Over a decade ago, I felt inspired to live my questions into an experience. A workshop called GRACEFUL DIRECTIONS was the result. Twenty women joined me for a ninety day foray into exploring our personal foundations for living the questions of our lives. The focus and our mission were to live our questions centered in grace (and its human equivalent) and to be comfortable with where we were in the moment with “just enough light for the step I’m on”. Every week brought questions and more questioning. It was unique and connecting transformation for all of us.
The power of blessing and change that comes from a methodology of questioning allows me to grow and empowers my choices. Questioning and the vulnerability it brings me lead me to accept what I don’t know (and that I don’t need to know everything) serving me a transformative method at its finest: beginner’s mind, humility, a commitment to new beginning and beginning again (a.k.a., “Here I am, Lord.”).
My favorite questions include, “Who am I? What is my purpose? What can I learn? How can I love? Where is the gift of this experience? Where are you, God? What do I long for? What do I vision? How may I serve?”
The question, “WHY?”, repeats itself over and over and over again in my heart, soul, body, and mind as I question the horrors, suffering, pains, and monstrosities in our world. There are NO answers to “WHY?”. I keep asking God to help me to live all of my who, what, where, when, and how questions into authentic being so that I may be an instrument for love and peace in the world. How can I be better? How can I serve the highest good? What can I pray?
And, at the same time that I question my striving to be the best me I can be, I recognize that we’re all living in this crazy Earth school together, so perhaps a more noble question becomes, “How can I forgive and love myself and extend that love and forgiveness to all experience—every sentient being, creating room for light, possibility and hope?”
There are SO many words beginning with “P” that I love: Perfection, Paradox, Positivity, Persistence, Perseverance, Pursuit, Promise, Pardon, Premier, Please, and Possibility, to name a few right off the top of my head. My preoccupation with “P” words is probably phenomenal in its proprietary, problematic, pseudo-psychological pondering, but it works for me whenever I pause to pick to be present with parades of pregnant perusal. I ponder foods, drinks, and names beginning with P. Countries, categories, measurements, and chemicals…The list for P words is vast and scattered everywhere (unlike Q, X, and Z) which follow P’s prevalent position in the alphabet.
Perhaps, my Pause this week is for PARIS! As you read this essay, I am doing my best imitation of Mary Tyler Moore joyfully spinning around Minneapolis in her sitcom, except, I get to do my happy dancing in the awesome City of Lights. (More about Paris, after I’ve lived it!) Probably, as I purvey the political landscape I could passionately choose to prime the pump for pontification and parody; however, it is prudently pervasive in my awareness that today’s pause , the precursor to posthumous production, the ever-permeable prick of poignancy, the P word that pervades every possibility from birth to death, as I live fully into present awareness, the primary pinnacle of yoga: PRANAYAMA, my most beloved “P” word, is the subject of this week’s pause.
Pranayama is simply defined as the regulation of the breath through certain techniques and exercises. In Sanskrit, prana means life force or the breath that sustains life, and ayama means to draw out or extend and (paradoxically) restrain. Pranayama as prana+ayama= breath extension/control, awareness of the breath as a powerful agent of transformation. In the yogic tradition, the breath is believed to carry a person’s life force. The study of pranayama provides me a methodology for tapping into my life force, to grow awareness of who I am, and to discover what possibilities I can create for my life: what a “big picture” life is, and how I can bring my centered vision of wholeness to a primary oneness with congruence, a type of healing unity inclusive of all positively created experience. For me, the practice of pranayama is the most important piece of my physical yoga practice. Some yogis I respect support my vote for the priority of this limb in/of Patanjali’s yoga sutras. Learning to control my breath to coordinate with intentional thought and movement supports opportunity to open portals for physical healing, emotional release, and spiritual accessibility. Bringing me present into the here and now, pranayama empowers the clearing of my mind’s clutter, preparing me to be available for the gifts of purely being. Pranayama blesses my yoga, my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual encounters with all of life’s flow.
Jesus said, “My yoke is easy. My burden is light”. As a student of good, love, and possibility (a.k.a. GOD) and as a lover of yoga, my reinterpretation of this scripture is “My yoga is easy, and it will ease the burdens you carry when you choose to follow my example.” Breath. Intention. Vision. Conscious practice. Choosing to be responsible, contributing to/for the greater good, committing to bring the best I am for the highest expression of/for good, love, and possibility, authentically proffering the blessings I am gifted for the positive transformation of experience and for the experiences I share with others. Breath provides the fuel for life. Inhale. Exhale. The Pause between the inhale and exhale. Subtle, practical power and purpose. A way to proclaim gratitude for the grace, blessing, and wonder of life’s mysteries, beauty, and synchronicity. Breath is a prerequisite for movement, for walking our walks and talking our talks; singing our songs and running our races; being present in our physical bodies and maneuvering our mental machinations, emotion’s mountains and valleys; a constant for growth and opportunity; a way to be one with spirit whenever we feel called.
My beloved yoga studio in Indiana (Blooming Life Yoga) has a wonderful pranayama class led by one of my favorite yogis, a great teacher and person. Mike Marcus leads our yoga practice with presence, resonance, heart, and humility. His primary focus is breath, and when he teaches a pranayama practice or any flow class, I learn so much, feeling so grateful for every moment I breathe—on my mat and in my world. Thank you, Mike.
Pranayama is a forever learning experience. It is a challenge to fully embrace ins, outs, and in-betweens of intentional breathing. Sometimes breath is easy, and sometimes it is forced and labored. Learning how to breathe on and off the mat is a commitment to choose conscious opportunity to support union in the body as a way to congruently live my yoga on and off the mat. Pranayama is a lifelong learning, blessing me with the tools for loving the absolute wonder, mystery, and miraculous possibility of life in a body in the here and now.
OM can be an abbreviation for “Old Man” or “Operations Management”. Those meanings of this extraordinary expression of the universe are not considered in this essay. My pause this week is, “OM”: pronounced “AUM”, a reverent sound to produce, witness, experience, and savor; a healing sound, vibrating to the number 9 (God-energy, success, completion), a holy tone conveying blessing, the perfection of the universe, and the oneness, the OM that connects all of us. I pause today for/ with/ about OM, and I am thankful.
Some “O” words I considered were “opinion”, “option” and “offer”. OM seemed beyond them all, and yet encompassing everything I could imagine writing about. An immense word, concept and energy, OM is the “IT”, the everything in vibration, conception, experience, and circumstance. “OM” is the center of all that is. Om is the resonance for Source/God/Creator/Spirit and all included in that created circumference, the good that begets the good package of birth, life, and death. OM.
I grew up in a Christian religion and was taught the cross and Jesus were my “go-to” always. For much of my life Christianity was my end-all, be-all, do-all. As I’ve creatively and responsively experienced life, that religious come-from is no longer my “go-to”; rather, it is the foundation for my spirituality, the teachings I bring with me to my experience of life, and the interpretations, subjectivity, and witness I bring to my every encounter in life.
I began questioning my beliefs at an early age. Never a dogma queen, I learned about theology and christology; pondered, questioned, and prayed (As John Wesley did) and, as life “happened”, my thoughts and feelings evolved with fluidity into my more or less justifiable beliefs. Organized religion,as I experienced it, could no longer contain my expansion in its box with a lid. The cross merged with the Star of David, the OM, an ankh, a crescent and a star, a dharma chakra,and a khanda. Add a picture of Ganesha, and I smile as I continue to open to the illusion of the other. So many ways to discover God, ourselves, and each other.
The traditions of religion are spectacular and bring me home to myself when I seek to live beyond a “come- from-go- to” kind of life. Spirituality demands we abandon that exclusive means of maneuvering through our faith journey; rather, I am a pilgrim on a journey with a “draw to-draw- from” philosophy of life, love, God experience. An entirely different track. AND, I’m not riding on a train anymore. The path is before me, and no one is telling where to go or how to travel. It is up to me, listening to that inner voice that leads me through every valley, up and down every mountain. All is good, love and possible. Every way I traverse leads me to OM. We are one. No longer separated by the auspices and creeds of religious rule. Rather, we choose to bring ourselves beyond our individual faith stories to a shared garden of peace, joy, hope, and beauty. Together we chant “OM” as we plant the seeds of love that heal us all.
OM Shanti. Shanti. Shanti. Peace, Peace, Peace. OM.