spiritual practice

Wait 30 minutes

canyon ranch

While on our honeymoon road trip through the Berkshires, we spent some time in Lenox, Massachusetts. It was the middle of May and still very spring-like with unpredictable weather.

It would be sunny and warm, then we'd go outside again and it would be gray and windy. Pretty soon there would be a little drizzle. Then it would be overcast and humid.

And that was all in one day!

We were talking to a Lenox resident about the climate there compared to California and he said, "If you don't like the weather, wait 30 minutes." 

We laughed and parted ways.

I keep thinking about this wisdom -- if you don't like something, wait 30 minutes (or 30 seconds) and the conditions will likely change.

Don't like this sensation? Don't like that sound? Don't like this state of mind?

We pass through so many moods, preferences, responses in a day. So much stimulus, so much input. All of it changing, all of it impermanent -- both what is coming at us and our response to it.

Spiritual practice is in part about stepping back from these fluctuations. Like stepping back from a picture on the wall -- when your nose is at the glass, you can't see much of the picture. Stepping back will help see the whole story, the broader context.

Being a witness of your experience. Noticing, with interest and curiosity when possible, the constant flow of life.

I'm trying to keep this playfulness when I notice my inner narrator chiming in about not liking -- or even liking -- what's happening.

"Wait 30 minutes," I tell her.

berkshires

A poem in honor of this wisdom.

Thinking Like a Butterfly

Monday I was told I was good.
I felt relieved.
Tuesday I was ignored.
I felt invisible.
Wednesday I was snapped at.
I began to doubt myself.
On Thursday I was rejected.
Now I was afraid.
On Saturday I was thanked
for being me. My soul relaxed.
On Sunday I was left alone
till the part of me that can’t
be influenced grew tired of
submitting and resisting.
Monday I was told I was good.
By Tuesday I got off the wheel.

Mark Nepo
From The Way Under the Way, 2016

 

long way home

The most perfect description of the on-going-ness of spiritual practice and the practice of yoga -- or any relationship, for that matter -- comes from Mark Nepo, poet and teacher.

Mark's most popular book, The Book of Awakening, was recommended by a friend many years ago and has since become my constant companion and my go-to gift to loved ones. It's a daily reader that will have different meaning each year. You can read it every day, put it down and come back months later or pick it up randomly and it will offer exactly what you need that moment.

the book of awakening

My copy as been through a lot (as you can tell from the photo). If I were stuck on an island with only one book, this would be it.

 

I was fortunate to spend a weekend this summer with Mark at the Omega Institute outside of Rhinebeck, New York. It was a weekend of poems, stories, sharing, nature, tears and laughter. He is just as warm and wise in person as in writing.

There he recited many poems, most of which I'd never heard, out of his poetry compilation, The Way Under The Way.  I ordered it when I got home, and it is through this book the magical practice poem found me.

Long Way Home

I want to have a conversation
that we can return to without
conclusion, one that lasts for
years, that feels like a walk that
has no end. Until the walk
itself is home.

I want to converse this life with
you, the way the old horse and
the young bird trudge and circle
each other in snow.

I want to reach with you into
the heart of things, where the
stitching of the Universe
shows its golden knots.

~Mark Nepo

 

And isn't that what this practice offers us? A conversation that lasts for years...that we can come back to again and again without conclusion. Where we can reach into the heart of things and allow the mystery to reveal itself.

What does the poem evoke in you? Are there other ways you relate to or describe your life practice? This is a space where we can enter that conversation together.