I’m reading, “Milarepa: Lessons from the Life & Songs of Tibet’s Great Yogi” by Chogyam Trungpa, and Edited by Judith L. Lief. I’m really enjoying it.
Yesterday I read passages that brought me comfort:
“…one’s first meeting with aloneness is a meeting with one’s real ego, without any clothing…The feeling of loneliness is that the ego has no one to comfort it, no one to act as moral support.
One of the differences between this stage and earlier stages is that there is less aggression. There is no blame and no hatred. The aloneness is simply the feeling of being nowhere, not even lost. Obviously, there is tremendous sadness that there is nothing around you that you can hang on to. But it is your own ego acting as the voice of that sadness and loneliness. You cannot blame it on anybody or get angry. There is no point of reference, no source of communication.
…taking part in a retreat is a way to express that aloneness, that loneliness, that desolate quality…Cooking, sleeping, or walking might become a source of entertainment. There is little to do, so you are thankful that they provide something. But even that comes back to square one.
Eventually, you tend to get somewhat disillusioned with all that. You see that those retreat experiences are not exactly feelings of wretchedness, but there is a very faint and subtle feeling that you are falling in love with something. At the beginning of retreat you were irritated by the insects around you, but you begin to wish you could invite them for a party or for dinner. You begin to feel appreciation. A subtle romanticism is happening, completely due to the experience of there being nothing to entertain yourself with, so that everything comes back to you. Read More
For years now, I’ve been working on not holding-in my stomach. I used to do it at all times, hoping that by holding it in, my stomach would look more flat, a bad habit I began around the age of 10 when I decided my belly poked out way too much. Any time I found myself holding in my stomach, for hours, at school, I was so happy, thinking I’m really getting it now, I’ve almost contorted enough to be average.
That kind of deep, long distance training takes time to unknot. The fascia and muscle memory needs to unlearn every reason I once gave my body to tighten, to not breathe fully, to be less than my full, relaxed self. I wish I could be with my 10 year old self, and tell that little guy to relax. It’s going to be OK. On a side note, I think that was what I was waiting for someone to tell me when I was a little me, “it’s going to be ok.”
I’ve made progress on the holding my stomach in, error. I’m pretty good at telling myself it’ll be ok, too. I felt corpulent and beautiful in my full belly this morning, and even a bit bawdy as I walked the city sidewalks. I was wearing a bit of a tight shirt, but I was still in my full body, breathing without shame. All the practice of letting it go working. Moving as only I can along this planet. Swimming through the morning rush and humidity. I love swimming. I have mammals returning to the ocean moments when I swim. Long moments, almost all my time, spent underwater being a whale, dolphin, or even a manatee moving through the deep. This morning, simply moving along the sidewalk, I was gliding, reminding me of those fluid moments underwater.
A silent hike is about the senses. That’s how we know the world, our senses: by sight, sound, touch, taste, smell, and thinking about the world, which is how we process what the senses tell us. Thinking about the world is where we spend most of our time, it seems. That leads us to thinking we’re all up in our heads only, and often ignoring where we are, and our senses, and even our bodies. A silent hike gives you a chance to get into all your senses, into your body and heart; as well as your mind.
A silent hike is also about remembering we are on a planet. That’s why I like to do a silent hike in the morning and as close to dawn as possible. Nothing lets you know you are on a planet like witnessing daybreak, as the planet slowly rolls towards the sun. The stars blink out and the bird chorus begins. A silent hike allows you to witness as much life as possible, because we aren’t scaring away our animal neighbors with our voices. They have senses to tell them about the world, and the here and now as well. During a silent hike, we’ll do what we can to witness all we can. We do this to further wake up ourselves to the here and now. Each bird call, shuffle in the grass, everything you sense is calling you to wake up.
Plus, as countless articles are now letting us know, getting outside and in to nature is good for you. People these days have a nature deficit disorder. Forest bathing is healthy. Walking is healthy. Let’s get outside.
But a silent hike isn’t all about quiet and walking. We’ll be headed to a destination. I try to keep the hikes to about a mile to a mile and a half, one way. Once there, we’ll find a place to meditate, for around twenty minutes. No particular lineage or technique is mandatory, all are welcome. People new to meditation are welcome. People with a long history of practice are welcome, and people with no interest to meditate are welcome as well. Maybe you’re only interested in a silent hike, or maybe you practice Miksang, or you’re looking to take photos but want to go with a group. You, too, are welcome. Just be respectful to those meditating, and stay close so we can all go together. When we do return, after meditating, we can go as loud as we want.
If you want to go on a silent hike to meditate, you’ll want to take something to sit on. I travel with a towel, and usually find an incline or a rock to meditate on. I usually look for a view, or I’m near water, or a grove of trees. You have to carry it, so bring what you want. You should know that there will be bugs, gnats, and possibly even mosquitoes. Well, there will be everything possible for where we are. We’ll be outside in the world, and everything annoying, neutral or delightful is part of the practice.
If you want to get on a mailing list to learn about silent hikes, let me know. We may do some camping, and traveling this year. We’ll see what we can build together.
From my place, about a thirty minute drive, and then about a mile and half walk down a trail into a creek valley, regularly torn by floods, I can show you dens in the hillsides. Amongst the fallen boulders on the slopes of the eroded banks, I’ve found all kinds of jaw bones and other bone litter in the dark holes dug between and beneath fallen giant rocks in heaping messes. Dens far older than the current inhabitants. There’s alot of them too, all together, more than you could shake a stick at. It’s a little unsettling, being outnumbered by other predators.
Recently, while hiking these banks, taking pictures of rocks, I came across a recent kill. I clambered over the debris of a slide, and there it was, splayed out, an opossum. Whoever killed it, had just done so and had barely started in on breakfast, and couldn’t be far. I’ve seen coyotes, foxes, bobcat, raccoons. I don’t know who lives in the dens, and maybe they change hands often, a new landlord according to happenstance. Though. some dens are by spring fed pools on the sides of cliffs with waterfalls above and below, and you’d think any creature would want to return to such a sweet setup of crawfish and fresh water. Other dens have no view, but are located on deep, well-worn paths. Old game trails with dens like grassy hobbit-holes along the way. My scent is well worn and mixed in with the scents of other lives, I making noise on those trails. Just a thirty minute drive, and there is this little part of the planet, with these many and different lives weathering the thunderstorms and flash floods and constant encroachment of the city and photographers. It breaks my heart, and yet, that is my plan for the morning.
I might drive out into the Hill Country tonight, maybe Pedernales Falls or Enchanted Rock, or even just the side of the road somewhere. I want to try my hand at Night Sky photography again. I learned alot from my failed attempts last weekend, and I’m ready to apply what learned, and try again tonight.
I think I’ve figured out the better settings for what I’m trying to capture, and how to work the parts of the camera I’ve avoided thus far. I mainly live in Aperture Priority mode, or Time Mode. With Night Photography, it’s been all manual, and awkward, and mistakes. It’s been fun to explore the mechanics of the camera again. It’s been cool.
I think it was Fr. Richard Rohr who related these words from a Rabbi, “We put these teachings on your heart, so when it breaks, the teachings fall inside.”
June 11th and 12th, 2016; I took a 2-day class taught by Shastri Betsy Pond at the local Shambhala Center. I loved the class. Saturday was good, full of meditation, teachings and talks with good and generous people. It was so good, I think I went into Sunday with lots of preconceived notions of how it should go, based on my Saturday. Perhaps it would be akin to a conquering hero returning home and I would be that hero.
Sunday morning, I attend to my regular routine (meditation, yoga, prayers), then I was off to the laundromat and then finally off to the second day of the class. When you wake early you can get a lot done before 9AM. I arrived in time for the complimentary breakfast, but it wasn’t too long before I started feeling dislocated, out of place and things spiraled from there. Read More