Friday, March 30, 2012

the art of non-doing

I've been thinking all week that I've been busy doing nothing. Well, not nothing per se, but allowing myself to wander more or less through my days rather than adhering to my usual agenda of do-do-do. My approach has been more like beach vacation state-of-mind: what would be most relaxing and enjoyable in this moment? And in this one?

No, we're not on Spring break over here and in fact I've been getting up regularly at 5:30ish (the ish-ness is an important lure for my mind - if I rigidly think "I'm getting up at 5:30" well, rebellion will ensue ... but 5:30ish gives a sense of leeway and easiness that tricks me into actually getting up!) In fact, I dare say my early morning routine is responsible for creating my more relaxed attitude and sense of an easy flow to my days.

What is the magic trick? I get up and sit on my meditation cushion and breathe.

Yuppers ... I get up early to breathe.

The yogis believe that we are allotted a certain number of breaths to a lifetime so if we want to lengthen our time in our current form, we must slow the breath rate down. Take our time breathing.

There are articles and studies related to the benefits of certain breathing practices (pranayama) but honestly, I am committed to this practice right now because I am already experiencing its benefits. My day feels more spacious, my relationship to time more harmonious and yielding, my reactions and responses calmer and more gentle. I just feel smoother and lighter and more focused and centered.

Clarity is my intention for this year and I am feeling it manifesting in my inner life and outer world.

Things that are making my days rich and alive:

Reconnecting with friends through letter writing. When I receive a letter or a card in the mail, I am aware of the time and care taken out of a busy day to connect with me and I so enjoy honoring that by sitting down with a warm drink, paper, pen and my thoughts. I think the greatest loss of our current age of clutter and over-stimulation is the space and time to cultivate a real conversation between souls. It is a dying art but thankfully there are many committed to its survival. I received this surprise in the mail this week from one such angel in and I recognize I am blessed to have many in my life who nurture my spirit with their words and care.

thank you dear Milena ... she hangs by the door to my yoga room,
greeting me every day!

I've been experimenting with herbal tea infusions thanks to the generous and playful HerbMother and her Spring HerbCraft camp.

Each day I take a quart mason jar and drop a handful of whatever herbs calls to me - nettles, oatstraw, catnip, spearmint, red leaf raspberry - then fill the jar with either boiling water to steep with the lid on, or room temperature water and then place the lidded jar in the sun for the entire day. The next day I strain it and drink it - delicious! My favorite concoction so far is nettles, lemongrass, catnip, licorice, hibiscus and rosehips. Even Cowgirl enjoys the taste and Latisha has several recipes she suggests for children, so I can't wait to brew up larger quantities this summer.

And as it is truly Spring here, it must be time for painted postcards.

I've been involved in two swaps with cards going to wonderfully exotic locales like Latvia, Sweden, Slovenia, and Malaysia. I have received a bounty of creative fun in my mailbox including a knitted postcard! (I know, no picture, how unlike me to not photograph something ... blame it on beach fatigue and too much sun ...)

I find making these cards inherently soothing and pleasurable. I am reminded of painting by numbers kits although my process is to sketch the one image - bird, dog, snail - and then allow the rest to paint itself in. I don't even mix my paints - I like them straight and full bodied.

I've been writing stream of consciousness bits of poetry or responses to these prompts: Today I am here to ... or This is what I have to say to you. I am surprised by how kind I am to myself and that there is this voice of forgiveness and acceptance deep within if I just allow the surface chatter, the loops of self judgement and criticisms, to wash away.

I found a letter I wrote to myself at the end of a week long silent meditation retreat. We turned these letters in to our instructor and he mailed them to us, months later. Eight years later, I re-read this letter and find my advice to myself, from mySelf still necessary:

Take time to reflect upon that which brings you joy and fills your heart with love and gratitude. Take time for yourself and also to be with others who share you beliefs or values .... Look at what is possible, not at what is lacking or missing or wrong. Don't shy away from challenge - push yourself to grow and respect the time you need for integration .... remember to laugh and don't take it all so seriously. Laugh, smile, and love - especially yourself.

I also found this quote copied down in an old journal:

A single event can awaken within in us a stranger unknown to us. To be alive is to be slowly born. - Saint-Exupery

I am a baby, learning to breathe and crawl and walk all over. Only this time, I am able to pay attention to the process and enjoy the exploration.

What stranger waits for you? Are you ready to play? Just breathe and laugh ... it seems to be the season for it.


  1. Look at what is possible, not at what is lacking or missing or wrong

    now just he dose of medicine needed this morning...its been a long week and pretty much where my mind set has been...

    i love making herbal teas...such fun when you throw out the rules and just start mixing herbs kind of like unveiling a present...waiting to see what bit of magic you created...sometimes i use them to add to muffins and breads and icings...tea for thought!

    the art of letter writing...sigh...i have been trying hard to get back into is connecting in a deeper manner...being able to hold the thoughts of another...savor the time reading...enjoy!!!

    your postcards are bright and beautiful pieces...paint away my dear friend...much love light and blessings~

  2. making herbal teas/potions....i have several very well-worn 'bibles' that i dip into although i seem to have settled into a few favourites that i go to time and again. i'll have to have a look at the children's recipes....

    and of course, the lost art of letter-writing...oh, how i love it so....

    LOVE those postcards...i'm smiling thinking that any postie lucky enough to have to deliver one of those will have a smile on his/her face for the rest of the day...

    me? i find myself sitting down and meditating over the page....yesterday it was sketching and painting faces...somewhat 'proper' ones..the act of shading is extremely soothing and yet allows the mind to drift happily...which is exactly what i needed.

    thank you for this breath of sunshine in my day....


  3. Ever since Dolphin showed up, BREATH seems to be asking for my attention. Love all that you are creating in between and after breathing :) I am so behind on my letter writing. Besides poetry, it is what sustains me!