Let The River Carry You

It was a warm and moonlit night.  As the air cooled and the light faded from the mountaintops, my boyfriend and I decided to go for a swim.  He put me on his back and began to swim laps through the warm water.  I listened to the sounds of the evening, and allowed my body to melt.

Faster he swam, pulling me behind him, creating currents in the formerly still water.  The currents began to pull at my legs; I could feel my limp muscles creating resistance as he turned one way or another.  And so I began to shift slightly with his movements.  A small movement here, another one there, and again I began to slide easily, effortlessly, through the water.  And I realized that non-effort does not mean no effort.

Sages counsel us to be where we are, to accept the moment we are in, to practice non-resistance.  But sometimes doing nothing–allowing your body to go limp while the rivers of life carry you–creates its own unique resistance.  To truly accept the moment, we must play our part.  That part is always gentle, subtle and completely aligned with what is happening around us.  It is a kind of non-doing, because it arises so easily and spontaneously.  It is effortless action.

Awareness of the moment means to accept it as it is and the part that you play in it.  Sometimes the appropriate action is to float; sometimes it is to swim.  Find the effortless action, and then allow the river to carry you.

Wishing you effortlessness,

Jennifer

Awakening

These pages are, as Emily Dickinson once said, my “letters to the world.”  But although Emily felt that her letters were to a world that “never wrote to me,” I feel instead that the world is constantly writing to me, with every flower that blooms, every breeze that touches my face, every moonrise and sunset.  With so many letters written across each moment, I want only to write back.  To answer in some way the messages of Love that surround me.

Do I always see the world this way?  Of course not.  My true self, or buddha-nature (“buddha” means “awakened one”), is often sleeping and forgetful.  I am often caught up in fear or desire, asleep to the beauty and abundance that surround me.  But each day, I try to remember.  Each day, I strive to wake up, even if only for a moment.

There is an old saying about enlightenment.  Reaching enlightenment is like throwing a ball into the air, over and over again.  It goes up; it comes down.  But one day, when you toss the ball into the air, it stays there.  The secret is only this:  keep tossing.  Each moment you wake up is a moment transformed.

Wishing you wakefulness,

Jennifer

The Three Treasures

I have just three things to teach:  

simplicity, patience, compassion.

These three are your greatest treasures.

Lao Tzu

Tao Te Ching
(translated by Stephen Mitchell)

Simplicity.  Patience.  Compassion.  These are the greatest gifts you can give to yourself and others.  These are the keys to finding peace on a windy day.  Yet in the whirlwind of our lives, we often neglect our treasures and then wonder why peace feels so elusive.

We practice so many things throughout our days.  We practice working hard; we practice mastering new skills; we practice the roles of friend, mother, worker, lover.  How often do we practice the ways of peace?

Peacefulness is a skill.  One who does not practice patience cannot expect to find it during difficult times.  One who does not practice compassion cannot expect to feel unconditionally loved.  One who does not practice simplicity cannot easily enjoy the pleasures found in quiet times and places.

We protect the things we value.  We nurture the qualities we choose to focus on.  If you want to create peace in your life and in the world, then give your attention to the practice of peace.  Nurture the parts of yourself that are best and brightest.  Then when you face challenges you will learn from them and grow stronger rather than weaker.

We live in a world of complications, but we can find in ourselves a place of refuge.  Be still.  Be silent.  Listen to the voices of the moment, and the quiet voice within your heart.  Visit the spaces that fill you with peace, savor their sights and sounds.  Listen to the music that soothes you.  Open to the joys that bring you home to yourself.  Then carry that feeling into the world so it may bless others.

Wishing you simplicity, patience and compassion,

Jennifer

The Muses Are Singing

We are creators, born to create and to share our creations with others.  When we create, out of joy rather than desperation, we enter a state of grace.  We stand beside the Muses, alive to our gifts and the privilege of sharing those gifts with others.  We flow with the current of life, turning every precious moment into something transcendent and eternal.

We forget that we are creators only when we attempt to divorce art from our lives.  But art is not something separate from the everyday.  True art reaches us wherever we are, as naturally as air reaches our lungs.

Don’t hold your breath.  Let yourself create.  Slip into the realm of creation, the place of possibility.  Give life to your dreams, wherever and whenever you find them.  Let your life be a work of art–open to new interpretations, full of fire and passion.

The Muses are singing.  It is time to sing back.

Endless Love

Love is a gift.  Not a promise.

The only promise is this:  that love will never end.  It may change forms.  It may not appear in the way you expect.  It may surprise you, challenge you, change you.  But it will not end.  All it asks is that you say yes to the gift, without clinging to it.  Clinging to it denies what it is–ceaseless, bottomless, endless–and kills what it might become.

Be grateful for all of the love in your life, whether it comes from a cherished partner, a new friend, or the breeze of a summer day.  The more love you are willing to accept into your heart, the more love will appear.  Cherish whatever form love takes, and whatever ways it grows and changes.  Surrender to the love you already have, and you will never find yourself without it.

We cannot capture time, cannot stop the world.  Savor what is here and now.  Open your heart to what is before you and within you.  Learn to listen and to wait.

Nothing belongs to you.  Why would you want to own anything?  You would only become a slave, rather than a lover.

Music For A Windy Day

Recently I’ve discovered a new path to peace:  the musical creations of Dr. Jeffrey Thompson.  Dr. Thompson is a scientist and musician who experiments with sound and its effect upon the body–particularly the ways in which sound frequencies, built into musical soundtracks, can entrain brainwaves and trigger various health benefits.  By using certain frequencies, often combined with beautiful music and soothing sounds from nature, we can encourage our minds, and then our bodies, to enter into deeper states of peace and connection.  I have found that this music creates a lovely atmosphere when used as background music, but it is even more effective upon one’s mental, physical and emotional state when played through headphones and used during meditation or even sleep.

Here are a few of my favorites:


I hope you will enjoy this music as much as I do!  And if you’d like, please leave any comments or musical suggestions of your own below.

*These CDs (and many others by Dr. Thompson) are also available on iTunes.

Unexpected Storms

Yesterday I dreamed of rain.  The air was thick with water, turning my desert home into a living memory of ancient oceans.  Clouds were thick on the mountains, covering the rocks and earth in a blanket of gray mist.  The rain was steady, undisturbed by wind, falling in sheets.  The sound of rain and distant thunder permeated everything–indoors it was felt as much as heard.

We learn to cherish rain in the desert, for we can see it for the gift it is.  We welcome its cool kiss, damp on our skin, the air washed clean.  We linger beneath the rain drops, breathing in air that is heavy with moisture.  We find sanctuary within unexpected storms.

But as suddenly as it began, the dream was over.  The clouds began to part and the birds to sing.  The light returned, clearer and brighter than before.  The air was still heavy, but now it sparkled.   The light, at first golden behind gray clouds, softened into tones of pink and purple.

We need rain to clear away the past.  We need storms so that in their aftermath we can see the light that surrounds us.  Within the half-light of these unexpected storms, we can find love where we never before thought to look, as rain falls all around us and even the wind rests.

It was a brief dream.  The hot desert air returned, with only the memory of rainfall left behind.  That is why, when the rain comes, we must open to the pleasures of the moment rather than wish them away.  For this is the reason we are here:  to learn how to accept the beauty that is offered to us, and to learn how to share that beauty with others.

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