My Myriad Miracles of Mankind

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I love my friends who are fierce kings and queens.
I love my friends who struggle with their self-worth.

 

I love my friends who are artistic lions.
I love my friends who are proud tech-heads and science gurus.
I love my friends who are still searching for their mantle,
or are wrestling with creative malaise.

 

I love my friends who are kicking ass and taking names.
I love my friends who choose a quieter, unassuming, humbled life,
or whose lives have chosen that for them.

 

I love my friends who are deeply spiritual vessels of love and light and warriorship in the name of peace, and are meditative badasses.
I love my friends who claim no spiritual path but believe in self-will, intellectual reason, and empirical evidence.

 

I love my friends who are as keen as whips.
I love my friends who haven’t been exposed to much in the world, and have innocence.

 

I love my friends who can rock some serious fashion.

I love my friends who could give two shits about fashion.

 

I love my friends who are blissful in their romantic relationships.

I love my friends who are struggling in theirs.

I love my friends who are happy in their solitude, singlehood, and autonomy.

I love my friends who are lonely and desirous of finding love.

 

I love my friends who see and seek only light and positivity.

I love my friends who see value in the caves and the darker recesses.

 

I love my friends who find life in traveling the world.

I love my friends who find life in digging deep in the earth and taking root.

 

I love my friends to whom I have insights to impart.

I love my friends who have a thing or two to teach me.

 

I love my friends who don’t even know the brilliant power of their youth.

I love my friends who brilliantly embrace their wrinkles and their road.

 

I love my friends who have taken robes.

I love my friends who have cast robes aside.
Making way for revolution.

Making room for new growth.

Making mountains from molehills, and molehills from mist.

Making magic from mystery, and manna from the myriad miracles of mankind.

 

I love my friends, my myriad miracles of mankind.

 

 

 

 

Photo by Tyler Nix

Morning-glory: A Reluctant Aubade

Morning Glory

 

That day one autumn long ago when snatched a glimpse did I

the break of morning and watched her from my window,

when through the nocturnal blinds I peeked, a dazzling hue arrested my eyes.

I saw her.

She crept upon the slumbering earth,

roving in quiet majesty beneath a starry heaven.

That day in autumn did I catch her blush and hold her secrets in my silence.

She danced before me in a grassland clearance and smiled.

And whereupon that smile stole my spirit, she looked on her offspring,

the vineyards and wheat beds,

and pondered the aftermath of the twilight storm.

Then quite in her glory morning knelt before her soil to spread forth

her caress.

Onward she crept like a feline thief as I watched her that day in autumn,

her tide almost in.

And conducted she the meeting of rays to rain on rooftops.

Morning bowed when she caught sight of the ground below

on which rested a wet leaf and a chilly worm.

Victim to the biting crisp was he, that worm, changing tempos of his journey,

slowing to decipher a warmer place.

And in her maternal clemency morning scooped him up in her palm and blew

a warming breath;

the tiniest of treasures for a journeyed worm.

And I wept for her gentleness and called her god.

I clung to sweet morning as the young cock crew, already bereft of her inevitable passing.

Would that she could live ever to keep me warm.

And morning sobbed.

Anointed she the soil on which I have walked a fair many seasons.

Loved her did I that day in autumn, but understood her not.

Only that madness would take me if not relieved of my pining,

and I gripped fast the hem of her garment lest she leave me

lost in the terrors of night.

Swallowed her I tried,

poured her over me to lose myself within her bosom and linger in her

diurnal greatness.

Yet morning spoke, and bade me fear not the illusory monsters of dark.

“They are but reflections of your fear.”

And morning called herself not god.

“Merely a tilling limb, night being the humble other.”

I would not listen.  Could not.

She passed across my heart, perched me on a high ridge that I might

watch her move through the trees and provoke them to dance.

Morning sprinkled her sun over the sea bed and me.

And out of her sun-drenched gourd drank I, and became like a drunkard.

Never quenching.  Never satisfied.  Always thirsting.

‘Til distorted she became and disappeared.

 

 

A vigiled quiet hung from airy ropes,

as I mourned my mistress’ demise,

and all on earth bowed in reverence,

falling to dreaming as was their custom.

The yellow river ceased its merrymaking and stilled itself to drowse,

where not far from its bank the whippoorwill sang, calling out to the dusky mystery.

Her sun was no more.

How like a tumor my heart did rupture,

for all that once did hide me from black gloom now

sold me like a bawd to night’s fondle.

And I felt morning’s treason and sat helpless.

So night stalked.

Beneath an eerie crescent I hovered and cursed morning’s betrayal,

seeking refuge amid frosted primrose and sleeping cypress.

Thus from the breathless clouds sauntered an infamous moon,

a hunter’s moon,

that rendered ghost stories for an audience perturbed.

And my fear alighted in anticipation of phantoms that walk the earth.

Of dragons and fallen angels that haunt the body and unrest the spirit.

Of skies so black as would harrow up the soul of Proserpine herself,

and make her a blind worshipper of the light.

And night strutted before me in exalted fervor,

as from the pores of earth bled an accompanying symphony of vainglory,

parading before me in a strange and frightening beauty.

Night caught me, a tangled fly.

While set ablaze the sky did he with trinkets of opal and ice.

And dazzled were my unbelieving eyes.

I watched night work in his regal splendor,

sucking up the fugue of day, to spit forth the grand suite of nightfall.

Glorious was the music of this eclipse.

A presence seeped within my flesh,

replacing fear with awe.

And heaven chanted.

Compelled was I to join the firmaments.

Before me night creatures frolicked and showed me his masterpiece.

Dancing fireflies who gave me the tease of light ornamented hickory and oak,

silhouetted against an indigo sky,

whose visions reminisced of Christmas pines.

Whereas the thunderous rumble of nature rang across the celestial roof,

night wrapped me in his lithe black cloak and caused me to fall in deep love.

There I indulged in the dark enigma of night,

drowned myself in his inky nectar to wear him on me,

and thought no more on her majesty the morning.

‘Til while in my reverie night’s tide began to fold,

and before my witness faded from his eminent power to a rueful grey.

My spirit caved as I prophesied a second betrayal.

When all at once the splinter of her dawn dashed out night’s heart and left him to falter.

(So left she my wrecked heart as well.)

And night closed his labored eyes, and nobly fell to his cycled quietus.

 

The fickle two!    Ahhhh, my heart.

 

Serenely did sigh a hummingbird sweet.

Softly did burst into the bloom the magnificent morning-glory.

And whereupon the inconstant night yielded to morning’s inconstant orb,

and I forced to endure the insufferable inconstancy,

once more did I weep.

For loved them both did I that day and night in autumn long ago,

and for the days and nights to come,

of every season.

And sorrowed yet surrendered

that seize them each my prisoner in selfish grip

I could not,

and call them my very own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Angela Carole Brown is the author of three published books, The Assassination of Gabriel Champion, The Kidney Journals: Memoirs of a Desperate Lifesaver, and Trading Fours, and has produced several albums of music and a yoga/mindfulness CD.   Bindi Girl Chronicles is her writing blog.   Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & YouTube.

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.

 

 

 

 

Angela Carole Brown is the author of three published books, The Assassination of Gabriel Champion, The Kidney Journals: Memoirs of a Desperate Lifesaver, and Trading Fours, and has produced several albums of music and a yoga/mindfulness CD.   Bindi Girl Chronicles is her writing blog.   Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & YouTube.

The Music of Silence: A Rumination On Meditation

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Silence is the universal refuge,
the sequel to all dull discourses and all foolish acts,
a balm to our every chagrin,
as welcome after satiety as after disappointment.”
––– Henry David Thoreau

Silence is the language of God.  All else is poor translation.”
––– Rumi


“Silence tells me secretly everything.”
––– from “Let the Sunshine In”
by James Rado & Gerome Ragni

I’ve meditated on and off for years now.  Every kind under the sun, from mantra meditations, and pranayama-focused meditations to guided meditations and walking meditations.  And I recently looked up one day and realized that what had been a daily practice for me, or at least a weekly, had managed to fall by the wayside, in favor of work and stress and recreation, even depression-related hibernation.  Somewhere in the tapestry, one little textured patch seemed to have torn away.

As I’ve tried to get back in the practice, I’ve begun with guided meditations on CDs and tapes, and attended sangas (a community of like seekers) where the meditations were guided by Buddhist monks.  After a time, I always find myself hungry, itchy, antsy, something, and realize that what I really want to do is live in silence for a time, not fill my head with more words, more thoughts, more suggestibility.  And while I take nothing away from the value of guided meditations (some of my greatest epiphanies and satori moments for me have resulted from them), I’ve come to realize that the reason I haven’t been moving consistently enough in some kind of forward direction, neither spiritually, nor in terms of my life’s legacy and the planting of seeds; why, instead, I have felt that life lately has become simply about surviving, taking the gig that will pay this or that bill, and then counting out my pennies to figure out what I can afford to do for fun until it’s time to go to work again, and pay another bill, and every day that keeps landlords and repo men away from my door is considered a success, until it’s time to go to bed, wake up the next morning, and start the cycle over again – whew! – this is what my brain is like these days! – is because I’ve been busy, in meditation, asking for.

Everything seems to be about wanting something.  Even prayer is about asking for something.  Please God, let me ace that exam.  Please God, let me win the lottery.  I’ve loved and held tightly a mantra I composed about two years ago, and have been dedicated to chanting on my morning walks.  “Love, reign over me…” (notice The Who reference; and, as well, my penchant for replacing the word god with love…just my thing).  …Make me mindful.  Give me grace.  Deliver me from need.  Fill me with wonder.  Help me to evolve for my sake and no other.  Take care of those I love.  And those I don’t.  Compel me to live fully in my present every single day.  Yet always, steadfastly, planting the seeds and tending the ground of my purpose in my life.  And then teach me to let go, and dare to trust my very best life to keep exploding before me in a rain of light.”  And then repeat. I’m also especially self-pleased with the seemingly writerly bookends of reign/rain (a geek’s excitement).

In my newest head, I think about that mantra and I sound awfully “gimme gimme” to myself.  There’s nothing wrong with asking for guidance, help, strength, clarity, protection.  And of course, it is incredibly beneficent to ask for peace and goodwill for others.  But it suddenly hit me that while those words, and the meaning behind them, merely serve the bigger picture of digging deeper within the fibers of my being, and compelling me to move, act, charge forward in a very specific way, and therefore IS helpful, IS healing…there is still something missing.  For me.  Right now.  In this moment.  And the something, I have finally realized, is silence.  It is about not going into meditation with an agenda on my plate, but going in with a blank canvas.

This is not a revolutionary idea.  Vipassana Meditation, for example, at its basest and simplest, is this idea.  But for me, it has taken my own very specific journey for the idea to come out of the abstract and into a tangible resonance.

Approaching meditation with a blank canvas is actually quite hard to do, but I am enticed by the challenge.  Because I know that what’s on the other side is the open door that welcomes insight and answers and light bulbs galore.  In the silence – true silence – not just a cessation of talking – the world opens up.  I’ve been there.  I’ve experienced it.  Only in the briefest of instances.  But I have touched it.

The trick is to let whatever your monkey mind has got brewing just come forth.  Your grocery list.  That doctor’s appointment coming up.  Re-envisioning the argument you had with your friend, where, this time, you actually say all the right things.  Shedding songs for that upcoming gig.  Lusting over the new guy that jogs by your house every morning.  Brainstorming on how to get your book published.  Bills.  Let it all bubble up and spin into a frenzy.  Don’t fight it.  Don’t try to shoo it away.  Because even THAT is agenda.  Let it go wherever it will go.  Without the fight, and without a what-am-I-trying-to-accomplish-here? lesson plan in place, eventually the monkey matter begins to dissipate, little by little.  It loses momentum and power.  It takes time.  It takes release and a consciousness about release.

It also takes a certain amount of bravery.  Because in this modern, fast-paced, multi-tasking society of swiftly accruing noise, industry, machines, and devices which can distract humanity from the essence of life,” as the painter and poet Jean Arp once said, we’ve learned the brilliant art of tucking, of compartmentalizing the worrisome stuff, so that it doesn’t invade us too often or too harshly, and cocooning and distracting ourselves with the noise.  This is incredibly easy for me to do, because I’m a musician for my living, so I am perpetually wrapped in a blanket of pings and strains and twangs and hums and vibrations and cacophonies of toots and screeches and splats.  And that existence can equally serve to bless me with a constant, spirit-feeding music AND keep me in a comforting fog.  Inviting the silence means daring to clear the fog, and therefore can mean inviting the worrisome stuff to dance in front of you, to insist that you smell it, touch it, hold it, face it.

The good news is that eventually what begins to happen, by allowing whatever dances in front of you to do so, is that what was important simply becomes less and less so.  The mind begins to let go of its burdens.  The realities don’t go away.  Have a bill to pay?  It’s still there. But the mind’s insistence on letting it bog you down suddenly loses its strength.  And as the quiet begins to creep in, a true moment of clarity can be experienced.  A sense of being able to handle whatever comes your way with skillfulness and grace.  The detritus shows its true colors, and the truly crucial issues begin to find their answers, or at the very least begin to break themselves down in order to be examined more thoroughly.

Li Po speaks of returning to the grove.  To the music of the trees, the wind, the birds, and silence.

One thing that seems to be a recurrent theme with me is the desire to be a calmer version of myself.  I am naturally hyper.  I talk a lot.  I can’t even sit in a chair for long without changing to the other butt cheek periodically.  I cross one leg over the other, and then for the duration of my sit I constantly switch legs.  And I need to watch movies in a movie theatre, and not at home, or I will invariably stop and start the damned thing thirty times to: go wash the dishes, make that phone call I forgot about, check my email one more time, see who’s talking about what on Facebook, the list goes on and on.  And what is a two-hour movie becomes a six-hour project for me.  I long to be calmer, slower, more thoughtful, more focused, and I pray for it everyday of my life, in my own way.  “….give me grace, make me mindful…” etc.

What I am realizing today is that what I really need, in order to accomplish anything of value, personally, professionally, spiritually, is to stop asking for, and instead simply learn to quiet my mind, to silence the monkey brain, to live in the music of silence, for at least a few golden minutes every day, and dare I even think it…be at peace with being right where I am.  I believe it is there and then that I’ll start to understand so much, and will stop being in such a rush to get somewhere else.  Evolving is natural.  Needing to be any place but here is…itchy at best.

I don’t have to ask for peace of spirit.  I only need sit in silence (yes, it can even be done when the world around me is noisy).  And then let the silence speak to me.

Silence.  So simple.

 

 

 

 

 

Angela Carole Brown is the author of three published books, The Assassination of Gabriel Champion, The Kidney Journals: Memoirs of a Desperate Lifesaver, and Trading Fours, and has produced several albums of music and a yoga/mindfulness CD.   Bindi Girl Chronicles is her writing blog.   Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & YouTube.