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Posts Tagged ‘Mark Nepo’

The last few days I have been intuitively drawn back to read my friend – though I have never met him – author Mark Nepo. I find such comfort in the kindness and wisdom of his writing, but moreover, the ability of his words to help center me.

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Work, and its sometimes seemingly endless demands, can pull me farther and farther away from my self until I feel lost. Especially with Thanksgiving upon us, I wish for my mind, heart and spirit to be in a far different place. This morning, tuning into Nepo’s The Book of Awakening helped me rein myself back into a place where I want to be … calmer, more content. He writes:

“The goal of all experience is to remove whatever might keep us from being whole. The things we learn through love and pain reduce our walls and bring our inner and outer life together, and all the while the friction of being alive erodes whatever impediments remain.
“But the simplest and deepest way to make who we are at one with the world is through the kinship of gratitude.”

He asks that we sit quietly and meditate on what keeps us from knowing ourselves, inhaling gratitude and exhaling what stands in our way. I know that when we are feeling most whole, when we have separated what we “do” from who we are, that we experience greater peace. And when we are at peace, we love more easily, breathe more easily, give more easily. So beautifully connected.

Knowing ourselves and releasing all that we are not taps us right into the magnificence of spirit, our Oneness. This Thanksgiving I share peace and thankfulness with you.

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When was the last time you danced?
A question put to the sick by a Native American medicine man

This headed up the June 24th post by Mark Nepo in his The Book of Awakening. And I had to stop. When was the last time I danced? When was the last time I sang? Or really laughed hard? And the answer I came up with was that whenever it was, it was too, too long ago. And that got me pretty bummed. I love to dance.

There are periods in our lives when dancing is just so low on the agenda that we forget all about it. Although I vaguely remember dancing about the kitchen, holding one of my cats when she was really not doing well. I thought a loving waltz might help. I’m guessing it did, I’m sure as much for me as her.

Dancing is wonderful and I’ve been dancing for as long as I can remember. Lately? Not so much. With all that’s been going on I’ve barely listened to music or read a whole book. Yesterday, with a number of stressful situations at least partially resolved, I decided to change all that. I looked through my CD’s and put on a favorite that I haven’t listened to in a long time, p.s. A Toad Retrospective from Toad the Wet Sprocket. I  came across them in the early 90’s and  have several of their albums; I love their sound and this compilation is their best.

I hit “Play” and grabbed my book, Skinny Dip, something cool to drink, and sat down on the sofa and read. And read. And read `til I finished the book. (Yes, I did make dinner for all those who were hungry and then continued reading.)

OK, I didn’t dance.  But I listened to music I love and allowed myself something I rarely do … to simply relax and enjoy. I admit I am still feeling a wee bit guilty, but all the things I didn’t do are still right here waiting for me, and today is another day. Dance? That might happen at any time.

So you might ask yourself … when was the last time you danced? sang? laughed so hard you couldn’t stop? I’m certainly no medicine man, but if the answer is anything like mine was … maybe you, too, need to carve out a little “you” time. Put on the music and see what happens.

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I believe it was the Christmas before last that a dear friend gave me The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo. Nepo is a poet who writes a daily (prose) offering of guidance for the reader, drawn from his own experiences, from others who struggle with their own humanness as well as the wisdom of the great traditions and teachers. Every day is a different subject and a beautifully written piece.

When I first got the book, I diligently followed along every day, enjoying the wisdom offered for the entire year. Now I dip in when I feel the call to do so which almost always assures me of a nugget of truth which is exactly what I need to hear at that time. I opened the book this morning to where my bookmark sat, May 25th, Through the Wall of Flame. The first paragraph reads:

Living long enough, we each find ourselves surrounded by an old way of being, thinking, or loving that is going up in flames. In that unexpected moment, we usually find ourselves full of fear, feeling trapped by an old way of life coming in on us. But this is the passage of rebirth that we must move through if our lives are to unfold. It is the momentary and painful crossing from what is old into what is new.

Nepo goes on to say how understandable it is to stall at this wall of flame, not wanting to go through, but that old ways can burn forever, and we can waste years in the waiting for the flames to go out. And they often never do.

I find there are times in life where things seem to be going smoothly, where we are moving easily forward in positive ways, where our goals and dreams are clearly in view. And then there are other times when they are obscured by Nepo’s described wall of flames … time to learn another lesson to help us grow. Oftentimes, the lessons are the same ones we have been learning and struggling with all along, but now at a new level, a new depth, with a greater challenge and … with a greater reward for pushing through. Even though we may occasionally lose sight of it in the trying.

Over the years, I have been told to be thankful for these challenges as they are opportunities to grow and to grow closer to my dreams. It’s not always easy to cross through the flames, and, while our hands are burning hot, to be grateful as well. The choice, however, is to stay safe at a far greater cost. What I have learned to do when it seems there are flames all about me is to just put one foot in front of the other and believe. Believe that I am always loved, believe that I will always survive the jump through, and believe that what is on the other side is richer than what I ever imagined.

In front of a wall of flames? Let’s all of us take a breath. Ready? Jump!

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