Sunday, September 25, 2011

9/25/11 Be Here Now

I thought about what I might want to write tonight. The main thing that came through was, "Be here now." I think I first read the phrase in a book about a utopia, and they had taught the mynah birds to fly around and say that. Really, we can't be any where else than here and now, but our minds dwell elsewhere enough that we aren't always aware and appreciative of here and now. Often we get caught up in dwelling on what happened and what we wished had happened instead (unhappy with either someone else or ourselves), or what we wish for or are afraid of in the future (which most likely will never happen). I can't remember in which book, but I read something about suffering which said usually we can deal with whatever pain that is happening right now, but as we project forward with the fear that it might go on forever, or be worse, that is what causes the severe suffering that feels unbearable. Someone else said that a coward dies a thousand deaths, a hero only one. (In anxiety we imagine many more negative things than ever happen.) Someone else said that if we're still alive, there's more right with us than wrong.

Our minds are very powerful, and can be used to great good, but untamed they can take us on very scary and depressing and unnecessary trips. We can learn to stop this by thinking about good things, by focusing on blessings (things we're grateful for; a gratitude journal can be very powerful), by meditating/praying/relaxing, by moving/exercising/dancing. Jon Kabat-Zinn in "Full Catastrophe Living" describes some mindfulness meditations focusing on the breath, the feelings in your body, your emotions and thoughts, and that in allowing yourself to feel the feelings (they're there anyway), you often find they start to change.

Tom Brown, Jr., from whom I took wilderness survival classes, tells a story about a man who finds a demon (this is in the far East, and the demon is not an evil being) who will do anything he asks. He is overjoyed, and asks it to cook him dinner, and clean the house ... and it does very quickly, but each time comes back saying, "Master, it is done," and looks a little bigger and more powerful, and wants something more to do. So he asks it to find him a wife, then to build a palace, then to ready a feast, then to invite all the neighboring rulers... and when it's doing that he runs out into the forest to try to escape it. He finds an old wise man, and tells him his trouble, and the wise man gives him one of the curly hairs of his head and tells him to tell the demon to straighten it. He doesn't see how that will do anything, but when the now very large demon finds him, and roars, "Master, it is done!", he tremblingly holds out the hair and tells it to straighten the hair. It straightens it, smiles at him, and then as it starts to hand the hair back, the hair curls again. It gets slightly smaller, tries it again, and the same thing happens. Finally it is back to normal size, and the man takes away the hair, says, "Take me home", which it does, then gives it the hair to straighten once more until he needs something else. The demon is our mind, and the hair can be anything a culture uses to calm the mind, a ritual, meditation, yoga, candles, prayer, and so on. The mind can be tremendously useful and helpful, but a tyrant if we let it hijack us with worries, fears, doubt, bitterness, despair, and so forth.

"Being here now" can be as simple as noticing our breath moving in and out, really tasting the food we're eating, noticing the feel of our body against the ground (or chair or bed), feeling the warmth of the dishwater and looking at the little bubbles of soap, watching and listening to the trees move in the wind... There's peace and beauty and acceptance. Even for someone with chronic pain (physical or emotional) this can be powerful. I remember one person who used to attend my weekly chronic pain class/support group, and he would say that he did this and could put his pain in one box, and it was always there, and he could come back to it anytime, but he could go experience other boxes when he did the relaxation meditations. Jon Kabat-Zinn has a chapter where he describes the experiences of people with chronic pain who attended his stress reduction clinic, and most of the time the intensity of the pain and suffering improved.  Eckhart Tolle wrote a whole book on "The Power of Now".  Brother Lawrence, in "The Practice of the Presence of God" said, "The time of business does not differ with me from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were on my knees." Tom Brown taught some visualization/ spiritual meditations where you imagine healing loving relaxing white light slowly filling up your whole body, and then imagine a shape and color and texture and size for any discomfort, then change it into a round black stone, and let it fall through the light into the earth. Many people had a brief change or stopping of their pain, and he said having it stop briefly or forever is only a matter of degree -- if it can stop briefly, it can stop for much longer. John Sarno, a physician, has written books about back pain (and other problems), and has taught people about coping with stress and relieving tension in their bodies, and found that many people have the pain go away when they do so. For those who believe in God, the "I AM" was, is now, and ever shall be, and the divine love in the eternal now has complete power.

So -- become aware (body, mind, heart, and spirit). Wake up. Really feel what you're experiencing, with an open, curious, appreciative attention. Give your mind positive things to focus on, appreciate and use its power when you need it, and keep it tamed. There's joy, peace, beauty, amazement,freedom, and a powerful energy in being here now, even in difficult circumstances. The only place we can act is now. It's the only place change can happen.

Monday, September 19, 2011


I posted this on CarePages last week, but thought I would include it here as well.

Thursday I set aside the morning for some contemplation time. I was still tired when I first woke up, so I went back to sleep. I spent a while in the late morning sitting outside in a shady area. Some of my initial conscious thoughts -- what are my next steps, how do I avoid getting caught in the always-more-to-do cycle (that can get me out of balance, never get finished, and eat up my life), how to live and love well (God, my family, everyone I work with and care for, all people, the world, myself), how to make sure I have enough time for things important to my spirit.

(As I started to relax and deepen into a more meditative state, a tiny feather came floating across the yard and landed right next to me on my right side, less than an inch long, a very defined down feather.)

I want to be fully awake, aware, vibrant, alive, able to accept and act, free ...and yielded and joined with the Holy Spirit.

Awake! Live. Love. Surrender.

Listen. Feel. Act. Be.

Cycles, Phases, Seasons.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Go deep.

East, South, West, North.

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter.

Live, Learn, Act, Reflect and Integrate, Die.

Truth (what is)

Step by step

Center, ground, extend, flow, blend

Move with the breath of God

Fully see each thing anew



Stand for, integrity, Love, persevere

Prepare the earth, plant the seed, water, harvest


There's not just one way, there are many (trails and unmarked). Go where heart and spirit draw me.

Listen for the calling, the song
Feel for the ease, the source
See and live the vision
Sing the song
Move from the center, in balance and wholeness, in the spheres of Heaven and Earth
Walk in beauty.

(I have a sense of beauty, of peace and joy, of angels and spirits all around.)

God, you are my God, and I will ever praise you.
Grateful heart.
Then sings my soul, my savior God, to thee.

(Another down feather floats across the yard, landing a little to my left, this one even smaller and more flowing/feathery, gray, so soft I can barely feel it.

The feathers, like the poplar leaves, move to the tiniest movement of air, float on the breath of Spirit.

I am left with a very peaceful sense that I don't have to figure this all out, just need to move with the breath of Spirit in my life.)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

9/17/11 Peace

I've felt quiet and peaceful since my meditation time on Thursday, when I dropped my wish to figure it all out, and instead trust that I will move on the breath (or wind) of the Spirit.  My mind has quieted.  I've gone on several walks.  Fahren's Park is beautiful.  Today I watched hawks (both on the way there, and during the walk) -- they moved in the air with nary a wing flap, turning and rising on the currents of the rising thermals, needing only to hold their wings out and steady, and make tiny movements to swoop or turn.  I saw them first clearly (and very beautiful) just above the treetops, and within a few minutes they had been lifted very high. ("You are the wind under my wings...")  In the park I watched jays, a hummingbird, dragonflies, butterflies, a kingfisher (first I've seen in a long time), a junco (I think), a robin, and the grass, eucalyptus, stream, many trees and plants, and some kids throwing water balloons at each other.  I noticed that the real beauty of the eucalyptus bark shows after storms and other stresses have stripped off the outer darker thick rough bark....  I trust that God, who can make feathers float to me at precisely the time and place of my meditation to give me a strong sign, and who can bring beauty out of storms, will move my life to precisely the right effect and beauty ...  and it will need no effort on my part, just awareness and listening, and floating on the breeze, riding the wind....  Love, Barbara

Friday, September 16, 2011

9/16/11 Introduction

I've been going through an intensive life and spiritual experience the last 4 months.  I found a tender lump which turned out to be a Stage1 lymphoma in early May 2011, and have just completed chemotherapy and radiation.  I've been posting regularly about this, with various experiences, thoughts, poems, and writings, on (my page there is BarbaraShowalter) over this time.  Several people have suggested I start a blog and keep sharing, so here it is.

The lymphoma is gone, and I view it as an unexpected gift, one which encouraged me to make changes and better balance my life, and has led me to look at different possibilities now rather than at some indefinite time in the future.  Some of the new things I'm drawn to are writing and leading healing retreats, which I'm just starting to investigate and move toward.  I'm working part-time as a family doctor, rather than full-time plus.  I'm attuning myself more to moving with the breath of the Holy Spirit rather than long "to-do" lists.  I'm looking at what I really love to do (like being out in nature, reading, aikido, connecting deeply with people), and spending more time with those things.

Yesterday I scheduled myself a morning for contemplation rather than at work in my office, and the peace from that (and from aikido in the early evening and taking a couple of walks) has extended through today.  (I wrote about the contemplation time last night on CarePages.)  One of the images was floating like a feather on the breath of Spirit.  Awake, aware, effortless, arriving at exactly the right place and time.  (Nothing I could ever do by trying on my own. No need to have it all figured out.  We can't do that anyway, nor can we control things.)

I wish you joy and love and peace on your journey.  Perhaps we will move together on the wind for a while.