A Peace & Goodwill Practice

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Try this.  It takes nothing away from you.  And may actually add something substantial.

Take this moment to wish peace and goodwill on the people you love.  You may think of them one by one, if they float through your consciousness in this way, or as a collective whole of your great body of love.

Next, wish peace and goodwill on your friends, your acquaintances, your colleagues.  Those whom you genuinely hold in regard and respect.

Then wish peace and goodwill on those you may know by face, but not necessarily by name:  The neighborhood grocer, the mailman, the familiar waitress at your favorite cafe.  They experience the same struggles, disappointments, and joys.

Wish peace and goodwill on every stranger who has passed your way.  The ones you may never think of again after that initial encounter.   Who knows what their paths and histories hold, or what private battles they may be waging?

Wish peace and goodwill on those you have never met, those whom you have only read about in newspapers, who may live in a world so radically different from your own, who may very well operate under a different set of ethical rules and belief systems, who may seem so remote from your own everyday experiences that they are a bit of theoretical abstract in your mind.  And then remind yourself that no human being is a theory.

Wish peace and goodwill on your enemies.   It’s a word full of hyperbole, and yet stunning how often we actually use it in daily language.  I refer to those whose enmity sits heavy on your heart, and to whom you equally hold enmity.  Those you feel you cannot trust.  Those who have wounded you in some way, or have intended to cause you harm.

Next, wish peace and goodwill on those to whom you have caused harm.   Which first requires that you strip away ego effectively enough to admit the harm you have caused.

Wish peace and goodwill on all living creatures.  The four legged ones.  The ones who fly.   The ones who swim.  The ones who crawl or slither on the ground.   They are no less a sentient being than yourself.

Wish peace and goodwill on the planet.  The earth gives us life and sustenance, and only when we begin to treat her with reverence, will we begin to reap her rewards, and maybe keep her here awhile longer.

And finally wish peace and goodwill on YOU.   Whatever are your injuries, your blocks and stumbles ( hate, jealousy, intolerance, pettiness, envy, greed, impatience . . .only you know what yours are ), wish THEM peace and goodwill.   They are the shadow aspects of that pantheon of emotional characters that defines you, your behavioral patterns, your methods of dealing with and in the world.   They live equally side by side with the more benevolent aspects of your characters ( devotion, loyalty, gratitude, humility, honesty, altruism, compassion, empathy, etc ), and have as much to offer you in the way of insights into how best to conduct your life.

These shadow aspects of your emotional characters are all born from fear, arguably the toughest, strongest, most brazen, stubborn, and charismatic emotional character of them all.   Fear has historically crippled us with its grip around our ankles like an imprisoning shackle.  Embrace Fear, and all of its shadow children; the ones who live and romp in your pantheon.   Do not banish Fear to a corner for being bad.   On the contrary, invite Fear to a dialogue, a summit talk.   Ask Fear to reveal to you what exactly it feels it needs to protect.

And then . . . listen.

There is a valuable offering that comes from each and every one of the emotional characters that defines us, both the shadow and the light, and only when we are able to garner some kind of insight into our emotional characters, by being willing to listen to them, to offer them, with equanimity, the same peace and goodwill that we have just wished on all of humanity, only then will we be able to begin to repair, to loosen that grip or break that shackle from around our ankles, in order to walk free and upright, and to begin our journey toward a more skillful life.

Our love holds no sway if it stays locked inside of our hearts unused.  Radiate it outwards.  The love we have to give is our only true possession, and is, without a doubt, our greatest weapon in the battle against a burdened life.   Cultivate that love every day by actively wishing forward peace and goodwill.   Even if it begins with mere words.   Even if it presently holds no foundation in belief and intention, seek out the ritual.  Make it a mantra.  And it will begin to plant its seed deeply within your body, mind, and spirit.   It will be made manifest.   You might call it building the meditation muscle.   And it is a vital key to unblocking and to freeing yourself to finding your peace and your happiness.

Namaste.

 

 

The above is a guided meditation that appears on my yoga/mindfulness CD, Global Yoga, which is available on CD and as a download.  I thought I would transcribe it into the written form for anyone interested, and who may prefer to read than listen to the thought.   I have been a yoga practitioner and meditator for over twenty years, all  of it, as well as other soul-tending modalities, toward a deepening of who I am and how I walk in the world, and I am always a willing and imperfect student, just trying to share a few light bulbs forward.

Photo credit: Gregory Colbert

Day 10 (of Juice Fasting & Meditation)

Day 10

 

Well, here we are.    We did it!    And we got a 30-second-long earthquake as the celebratory party favor and noisemaker!   Whoooo-hooo!  (Those of you in the L.A. area know what I’m talking about)

In all seriousness, when I first started this, I asked a friend if he’d do the fast with me so that I could have a support system.   He came on board enthusiastically, and so I want to thank Ross Wright for being so willing.  He actually started a few days after me, so he’s still going at it.   When I called him to check in on my last day, I told him he was free to stop if he wanted.  And he said “no, I’m gonna see this through,”  which made me smile.   What I never realized, by blogging about this adventure, was just how much of an extended support system I would end up having.   My running joke has always been that I wonder if Bindi Girl Chronicles even exists, if no one tunes in.   You know, that whole bear in the woods things?   Because I’ve tended to feel the presence of the wasteland here.   Cyberspace can be a cruel mistress.  So, imagine my surprise to discover a genuine rooting section, as I’ve peeled away each layer and each day.  Some even feeling the inspiration to try something like this themselves.    My heart is incredibly warmed and humbled by your presence on my quest.   Which is why I shout “WE did it!”   So, not only do I thank my friend Ross, I thank YOU.

Today has been a good day.   Contemplative, as you might imagine.   Wondering about all the shifts and changes, both internally and externally, physiologically and spiritually, overt and covert, instantaneous and yet-to-be-discovered, that may have taken place during this time of privation, fortifying, prostration, and inward-turning.   It hasn’t necessarily been a quiet time.   Especially emotionally.   But it has been an astonishing time.

When I looked back today over all the blog entries of this journey, I wondered if the shorter entries were because I just couldn’t get inspired, perhaps was downtrodden that day.   And then I realized that the size and length did not necessarily correlate with a good or bad day.   Quite the contrary, some of my longest entries were about very taxing days.   In fact, my shortest entry had been a peaceful day.   All systems were go.   The engine was running smoothly.   And therefore, there simply wasn’t much to report.   Then again, my most buoyant day beget the longest of the entries.   No rhyme or reason, kind of like life itself, in all of its magnificent abstract and bebop free form.

Today’s juice was beets, beet greens, spinach, and cucumber.   It tasted so lovely that I could almost picture it as a warm beverage for a cozy evening.

My meditation happened later in the day today, and the theme seemed to be compassion and equanimity.   When I’ve referred in past entries to the “themes” of my meditation, I haven’t been referring to anything I’ve deliberately set out to ponder before I close my eyes.   I close my eyes, and these issues, themes, lessons, whatever you want to call them, show up.   Sometimes, no theme at all shows up, and I’m merely meant to quiet my head.   But today, compassion and equanimity were definitely floating like a haze over me, and I know that I have been challenged in that area of late, so there’s no mystery as to why it would make itself present.

What have I been hoping for this observance of Lent to do for me?    I think, slow me down a bit in certain areas of my life.  Areas where beauties are missed, where stress and hyperactivity rule, where over there is more meaningful than right here.   And in other areas I’ve been hoping to speed up, show up, get into action.  Areas where complacency or fear have clinched my ankles and caused me great frustration and despair.  Wanting to appreciate impermanence.  Wanting to be made weightless by non-attachment to outcome, and to recognize the beauty and wisdom in creating for its own sake.   Wanting to love exactly who I am, without judgment and chastening.  Embracing imperfection, and finding that a little perfect.  A tempering of  narcissism.  Having the ability to listen to and honor every voice and every story, and to really get that someone else’s isn’t rendered valid ONLY if I can claim the same experience.   Center.   Ground.   Clarity.   And letting go.   And letting go.   And letting so.

So, have I achieved any of that?   Have the plate tectonics shifted at all?   I guess I’ll see, as my life goes on and I operate in it.

But what I do know for sure, today, is that I’ve set a groundwork for ongoing self-tending and soul-tending.   Let there be no doubt about it, I am on the precipice of profound self-awakening.  I am completely geared for an embarrassment of riches.  I find beauty in everything.  And I express my gratitude to the Source everyday.  The tools are in place.  So bring it on.  Whatever it is.   The blessing and the challenge.   I am ready for the responsibility of my Buddha mantle.

 

Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light comes in.
― Leonard Cohen

Here’s wishing us all vigilant healing and constant transformation.

 

 

Day 9 (of Juice Fasting & Meditation)

Day 9

 

Why didn’t I think to post pics this entire time!   Today is quite possibly the most energetic day I’ve had in some long time, so I’ve just been bopping around my house juicing and taking pics like a madwoman.   But I’ll only inflict this one on you.

WatermelonGinger

My yummy watermelon and ginger from yesterday just HAD to have a revisit today.

 

Especially after the disappointing green batch I made this morning.   Here I am on Day 9, when all experiments should’ve been perfected by this point, and today’s was the least palatable batch yet.   AND, I was stuck with it, because today I worked my office job, took my jug o’ juice with me, and my sippy cup, and hadn’t bothered to do a taste test before I left home.   I wouldn’t exactly say it was vile; it was just really pungent and bitter.    It was more of the dandelion and chard from yesterday, which are pretty bitter greens anyway, but I’d already successfully used that combo, so it must’ve been just an unfortunate ratio of the greens with my apples and lemon.    In any case, each sip was met with a grimace, but it’s all I had to fuel me for the day.

Thankfully my boss came to the rescue with some pineapple slices she had, and a blender, and I got the chance to rescue the rest of the batch.  Thanks, Karla!

So you can see my need to come home to a wine glass filled with… (any other time in my life, that sentence would be finished with “a nice cab”)….my watermelon elixir.

Meditating Angel

Okay, I lied, here’s one more pic.   Man, I have a lot of energy right now.  Hyper, party of one!    My little Zen girl certainly has a thing or two to teach me about meditation, doesn’t she?   Look at that focus.  Yeah, I’m pretty hyper.

 

 

 

In all seriousness, my meditation this morning was a doozy!  It seemed to ring with themes of forgiveness.   But I was a good long way into it, as I wondered whom I needed to be forgiving in my life, or whom I’m needed to be asking forgiveness from, before I was suddenly hit with the dawning that the answer to both was ME.   Forgiving myself the difficult realities about myself.   We all have them, don’t we?    Those pesky little “difficult realities.”   We try to buff them up, better them, put a little spit shine on them.  Or we try to tuck them away and pretend they aren’t there.   We rationalize them, justify them, or we self-berate.   But it really all comes down to this:   We can transform, evolve, improve who we are, learn something new every day, open our hearts, practice compassion, and yet at the end of the day we are not perfect specimens.   We aren’t designed to be.   And so all of those rough edges, the warts, the fears and defenses that still insist on lingering there, even with all the soul work we may do….that’s where forgiveness comes in.  That’s where we’re tested to see if we can love and embrace the shadow as well as the benevolent characters in our personal army.  Because they all have a role to play in shaping who we are, and how we walk in the world.  They all have a lesson to offer.

And by no means am I saying don’t do the work.   We should always be working toward transformation.  Just don’t forget the self-forgiveness.  It’s a pretty powerful ingredient in the recipe.  Without it, it’s kind of like my bitter green juice today …. something vital missing.

And finally to recognize that we’re always evolving, and so wherever we are on the path is the right place to be for that moment.  That’s a HUGE one for me.   A mountain.   And not just any mountain.  Everest.

So the work continues.

 

Day 8 (of Juice Fasting & Meditation)

Day 8

 

Day 8 finished as uneventfully as it began, though I have to give a great big “thank you” to Kelly Phillips of Kona for the incredible suggestion of watermelon juice with ginger.   That was my dessert, and it was easily the best taste sensation I’ve had on this fast.

The green concoction was back to some interesting dandelion greens and chard.   That’s a pretty bitter-tasting combination, so copious amounts of carrots and lemon helped to make it palatable.

My meditation got the short shrift today, for the first time.   There were just things to do around the house, commitments on the computer that needed my attention, and by the time I could fit it in, the distractions were prevalent.  It was the briefest, and most uncommitted, of the efforts so far.   I have to wonder if there wasn’t something in the back of my mind that thought, “well, I meditated TWICE yesterday.   Can’t I get a day off?”   It’s silly to think, but that may well have been in the back of my subconscious.

But as far as emotional lows, or upheavals, no, Day 8 has been normal and even-keeled.  Thankful for that.

I can’t believe I’ve made it this far.  Day 9 approaches, and a sense of something important has definitely been felt in my bones.

Day 7 (of Juice Fasting & Meditation)

Day 7

 

And … follow the bouncing ball!      Yes, folks, she’s up, she’s down, she’s up again, she’s…

feeling MUCH better today than yesterday.   Day 7.   Three more days to go.  And though I’m not sure at this point whether I’ll continue longer after Day 10, I do know for certain that I’ll never give up the practice of regular juicing.   It will remain an integral part of my eating routine.   There’s been some weight loss, a clearing of brain fog, and I swear my eyesight is just a little bit better.  Zero joint pain, which has tended to be an issue for me.  Which means that the physiological experience of change and betterment is definitely measurable.  The psychological, emotional, and spiritual wing of this old body….that’s a little harder to quantify.   I think if shifts are happening, they’ll become more apparent with time.

My meditation was very early this morning, as I needed to go to my office job, and it was so centering and soothing that I think it set the tone for my groundedness today.   I took my sippy cup filled with my green concoction to work, but neglected to take the 2-liter jug with the rest of today’s meals.   So I was pretty starving by the time I got home at 5:45.     But before going home, I needed to do my shopping for tomorrow, and this time carrots were in the mix.    I was feeling one of those hankerings again, so I got home and quickly juiced up the carrots, and added a little nutmeg in the glass.   Yummy!

Though my own sense of center seemed firmly in place today, after yesterday’s dumps, there was some sad news received.   A singer I distantly knew, and had sung some gigs with, passed away today, and though I didn’t know her well, people who are dear to my heart DID know her well, and I got to experience the heartbreak of people I love.    So, though I’d already meditated this morning, I did another sit this evening, in memory of the lovely Chrissy, and all those who loved her.

For that matter, it seems I have been losing people all around me lately (this wasn’t even the first death this week of someone I’d known.)  These passings have sobered and humbled me, made me thankful for the life I live, and the people who love me, and the dawning that opting for solutions to struggles, which is what I’m trying to do with this Lenten observance, has even more of my respect and my cherishing.   This is sacred space.

Interesting how it sometimes takes death to remind us to live.

 

Day 6 (of Juice Fasting & Meditation)

Day 6

 

This will be brief. A down day. Still resolved, but so paralyzed by some personal issues that it’s been difficult to get up and do, today. My meditation didn’t happen until later in the afternoon, but was so welcomed and warm. It is definitely my haven and sanctuary when I’m feeling helpless. I just really tried to open my heart and listen.

Spinach, apples, and ginger. A simpler meal than some of the recipes in the past few days, because, like I said, I just couldn’t get up and do.

There was a moment as evening approached when I seriously wanted to bail on this. But I didn’t. And I haven’t. It’s the genuine first of those in these six days, so I’m trying not to beat myself up. Hey, this is what goes with the territory, the open wounds and emotional ups and downs of any kind of prayer and fasting. I’ve isolated a bit today, as I’ve feared being short with anyone who might speak to me.

Except for a lovely phone call from my sister, who had just finished reading the first installment of this journey, and was calling to tell me how inspired she was by it. How it resonated close to home with her. And it had me thinking about how there seems to just be this environment all around us right now of people feeling discord with their lives, a general sense of disconnection, and the fierce, restless desire to call upon solutions. I’ve believed for some time that a paradigm shift globally, spiritually, has been in place, a crack in the door, where just the tiniest sliver of light comes through, to assure the planet that there is better possible, but in order for the light to be more than just a sliver, we have to open that door by awakening and expanding our consciousness. So, it really struck me in a profound way to have my sister confirm similar feelings.

Look, a fasting & meditation isn’t going to be everyone’s answer to addressing issues and seeking clarity; it’s just the one I’m trying right now. But to be able to create a dialogue with others about the need for…something, whatever that might be for each person, to up the ante on our lives, to opt for peace of spirit …. is kind of extraordinary.

 

Day 5 (of Juice Fasting & Meditation)

day 5

Well, folks, apparently Day 5 was so ordinary and uneventful that I forgot to blog at the end of it.  So here it is at dawn on Day 6 and I’m doing a little catch up.   That’s the good news!   A day so uneventful that…  No emotional mood swings.  No hunger pangs.   Energy!

I did have my first moment of hankering for a taste sensation.   So far it’s been nothing but green juice in one form or another.   So on my walk (yes, exercising for the second day in a row), as I was heading back home, I stopped in a market to buy 2 apples and 2 peaches.   I took them home and juiced up just those items, and rendered the loveliest, almost creamsicle tasting concoction.   It was dessert!

Day 5 was a crucial day because I was scheduled to be interviewed on the radio show American Vernacular to discuss my new novel and other fun topics, and all I could think after shutting my eyes on the emotional roller-coaster that had been Day 4 was, “I can NOT be in this head space tomorrow for this interview, or it’ll be a disaster.”   Well, like I said, I woke up with energy, and stayed that way, and the interview turned out to be incredibly fun and rewarding.

My morning’s meditation was lovely.   If the last two days’ “themes” were Mindfulness and The Coward, then Day 5’s Lenten theme was Prana (breath).  In fact, I believe prana directly translates from Sanskrit as “lifeforce.”    There’s definitely something about waking up on your fifth day of pretty austere eating (drinking) rituals, yet feeling more energetic than you have in some long while.  It doesn’t make logical sense, and yet here I am.  So my focus in the sit, with my eyes closed and my hands in gyan mudra, was pranayama, or the practice of mindful breathing, which is always essential in oxygenating the chakra centers and the body’s systems, and quieting the mind.

My day’s batch had already been juiced from having made an over-abundance the day before (the dandelion greens, chard, celery, apples, lemon, and ginger).  So there was very little in the way of labors to get me through this day.   Like I said, uneventful.  Even peaceful.   Which makes this blog entry a shorter one than the others before it.

I think a certain zone or flow has hit, friends, a full immersion into an energized focus and complete absorption of purpose.  And I am in deep gratitude for getting this far, for realizing just how little my body actually requires to attain health and wellness, and that we’re so accustomed to over-indulgence that we equate it with need (and then the next thing we know we find ourselves regularly sick and rundown, and that’s considered the norm), and lastly, I am in gratitude for entering this new space where mindfulness, centering, and connectedness seem to be in abundance.

Now that I think about it, maybe Day 5′s theme is actually Gratitude.

Have a blessed day.