Saturday, July 02, 2011

Taking Recommendations

I am trying to decide what to watch from one day to the next and I thought I would give you, dear reader, a chance to choose for me. I figure that one day I'll be asking you to suffer through my typically verbose lists of "what I watched this month" and the least I could do is allow you a voice in what you will inevitably see manifest in this blog. So leave a comment if you have a preference. It doesn't have to be something you have seen and enjoyed. I'm willing to be your guinea pig and watch something you are vaguely interested in seeing but want to hear what I think of it. I may even make the effort to watch your choice with more discernment than usual. You never know.

As I created this post I thought, "I know if I were to ask Marc he would choose this movie." If you have a netflix account and wish to do a "write in vote," feel free to choose something from the instant queue but do me a favor, please. Don't intentionally choose a movie you think I'll loathe because you loathed it. That's hardly fair. And I'm a nice person, for the most part, so don't be mean.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Weekly Quotes Part 26

Julian of Norwich Showings
The showing of God’s compassion is intended to teach us to love ourselves and our brethren as he does. This is his endless comfort of us. (59)

[W]e are all one in love.  (136)

I can’t say how many times I have seen this quoted and improperly. This is why I get so annoyed when people do not cite a quote properly because it is nearly impossible to read the quote in context but when one can read then, of course, the person using the quote had better be sure they are using it appropriately.  So often when I see this quote used, the person is saying that Julian of Norwich is showing how God loves us all equally.  In context, however, Julian clearly states the “we” are those who are “my fellow Christians” which, in her eyes, only included those who belonged to the Holy Church.  It is a nice quote but not nearly as nice as some people try to make it seem. 

[A]ll will be well, and every kind of thing will be well.  (149)

[I]t would be most unkind of me to blame God or marvel at him on account of my sins, since he does not blame me for sin.  (149)

Repeatedly, Julian says that God does not hold us accountable for our sins because he simply does not see them. It is important to understand that she is not talking about God not seeing any sin; rather, she is saying that God does not see the sins of those who are His Lovers, fellow Christians only, and ultimately only those who belong to Holy Church.
[I]t is more honour to God to know everything in general than it is to take delight in any special thing.  And if I were to act wisely, in accordance with this teaching, I should not be glad because of any special thing or be distressed by anything to all, for all will be well.  (153)

[U]ntil I am substantially united to him, I can never have perfect rest or true happiness, until, that is, I am so attached to him that there can be no created thing between my God and me.  (183)

But I saw nothing so exactly specified concerning the Jews who put him to death; and nonetheless I knew in my faith that they were eternally accursed and condemned, except those who were converted by grace.  (234)

Needless to say, I find this quotation offensive, as should any true Christian, whether a member of the Holy Church or not.  

Finding Water

Making art is an act of faith, a movement toward expansion.  (2)

Who am I if I long to write and I am not writing?  Am I a pretender?  An also-ran?  A coward?  (15)

My artist’s eye must be schooled in the particular.  (39)

The Last Samurai

[T]he secret of success is to complete a single simple task on a daily basis.  (153)

There is a strange taboo in our society against matricide.  (253)

This made me laugh.  No doubt my children have occasionally thought it a strange taboo.  Goodness knows, I've given them reason enough to want to kill me.  

The fact is that most people are illogical out of habit rather than stupidity; they could probably be rational quite easily if they were properly taught.  (363-364)

Simple Abundance
We are not known so much for our . . . skills as for the triumph of our enthusiasm over our prior experience.  (June 26)

Friday Randomness Quilts

Manzanita Wall Hanging quilt kit

30"x30" Black White Red Interlock Wall Hanging Quilt by Betty Kaiser

Quilted Wall Hanging by machine

Northern Lights 2

Commit to Sit Challenge: Day One

I’m assuming anyone participating in the Commit to Sit Challenge with me has already read at least the first part of the article, if not the entire thing.  With that said, here is the first week’s meditation practice as described in the article.
Monday–Friday: Meditate for twenty minutes in the morning and in the evening, focusing on the breath.
Weekend Challenge: Devote two hours this weekend to contemplation of the breath. Sessions should be at least thirty minutes long. Spend the entire two hours in silence, alone or with other practitioners.
As far as I know, we will all be doing this "alone" although sharing the experience together from a distance.  I mentioned yesterday that it might be a good idea to not attempt the “weekend challenge” until next weekend because we will be starting this on the first.  However, you may have already chosen not to start tomorrow with the intention of starting on Monday.

If I haven’t said it enough already, this challenge should be approached with openness and flexibility so please do whatever works for you.

I’ll post occasional updates about my experiences but I don’t think I’ll share daily because how often do you really want to read “I meditated this morning” and “I meditated this evening.”  Maybe I’ll do a weekly check-in post, sharing my personal experience–any struggles and successes I have along the way–and another for the weekend challenges.  Does that sound do-able/readable?  I hope so.

I hope you’ll choose to share your own stories/experiences with me.  For those who are blogging about it, I’ll be reading along (even when/if I do not comment).  If you feel comfortable sharing in comments, that is also fine.  Or, if you prefer, you are welcome to email me–see my profile for a link to email me.

Sharing this is making it all the more exciting for me.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tomorrow begins the Commit to Sit Challenge. I almost wrote “my Commit to Sit Challenge” but it is really not mine; it is ours, a challenge we are doing together.

One person I know who will be doing it is going to practice mindfulness, moving about her routine without allowing herself to lose focus.  You know how you can be heading somewhere you go often, even driving yourself, and you realize all of a sudden that your thoughts were elsewhere and you’re near your destination although you don’t remember how you go there?  Or how about being in one room and thinking you need to go do something in the other room but when you get there you’re not sure why you wanted to be there?

It is so easy not to be mindful.

Another person is going to do a metta meditation practice focusing on only the first stage of the practice.  Sharon Salzberg, in her book Lovingkindness, describes immersing herself in the metta meditation practice and spending six months saying only “May I live in safety, be happy, be healthy, live with ease.”  Imagine six months of never moving into “May you be” let alone “May he be” “May they be” “May we all be.”  But focusing on yourself like that is bound to bring up resistance and no doubt that is precisely the reason the metta meditation begins as it does–on the self.

It is so easy not to be self-compassionate.

Another person, who has many demands on her time, will be practicing in her own way, meditating as she can and using the longer practices prescribed in the article (later in the challenge) to explore herself through artistic expression–specifically collage.  Another person may be (I haven’t confirmed) doing a deeper yoga practice, exploring her spirituality through her physical body.

It is so easy not to make time for one’s self.

So what, you may be wondering, will I be doing?  I was waffling between three choices:

  1. Doing the practice as described in the article without variation.
  2. Doing the metta meditation to develop my own self-compassion.
  3. Doing a daily Reiki meditation to take my practice to the next level.

I knew I would have to make a choice by tomorrow morning at the absolute latest but my choice was made for me on Monday.  If you’ve read about how I came to Reiki then you know there were some odd coincidences that finally brought me to exploring it and being attuned.  On Monday a family friend sent me some information about a sangha (meditation group) she’s created that meets both in her home and beyond.  On the last Wednesday of the month, everyone meets at the same time, whether in her home or in their own, and sits in silent meditation for 20 minutes.

About two years ago I would do a distance Reiki meditation every Wednesday evening and I realized that here I was being invited to meditate on the same day of the week I used to practice Reiki regularly.  And had I learned about this monthly meditation a month ago or a month later, the timing wouldn’t have been so apropos because there I was, undecided about what I would do or how I would do it when this reminder, this gentle nudge, came my way.

And after what happened the last time I was being nudged by Reiki, I didn’t really want to wait until the third time came along.

How will I do this?

I already have a few ideas in place, since I made the decision a few days ago and have had time to ponder the logistics of it all.
One, I want to memorize the Reiki Principles.  Dr Usui recommended that a Reiki practitioner repeat the Five Reiki Principles three times in the morning and three times in the evening.  Because the Commit to Sit Challenge divides the practice into a morning and evening session, I will begin each practice by repeating the principles.
Two, I will give myself Reiki every day.  I honestly don’t know why I do not do this already.  I know that when I do it I feel better.  But, as I said before, it’s not easy to be self-compassionate or to do something for yourself even when you are aware of the benefits.
Three, I will send distance Reiki to those who request it and to family and friends who need it.  It is not unusual, from my experience, to have one of the dogs come to me while I’m doing Reiki and push themselves into my hands.  (Romanov is more gentle about doing this but more pushy than is typical for him.)
Four, I want to also practice the Reiki symbols which I have been unable to memorize.  Two of them came quite easily but there are three others with which I continue to struggle.  On those days when a walking meditation or longer meditation practice is called for, I will be practicing the symbols in silence, meditating on the mantra associated with each.
Five, I have a Reiki book which I have not yet read and another I would like to reread so they may also be a part of the Commit to Sit Challenge if only as a support and encouragement between sessions.  
Because we will be starting on a Friday, it makes sense to me to recommend that the “Weekend Challenge” be postponed until the following weekend because these typically are longer practices, meant to stretch you beyond the weekly one.  But until we have the weekly one in place, it doesn’t make sense to stretch beyond it.  Of course, if you feel up to doing the weekend challenge on the 2nd or 3rd, don’t hesitate.  Frankly, I probably won’t do it but I may double up the following weekend and do both the first and second weekend challenge on the 9th and 10th.

So there you are.  You now know what my commitment shall be and I am now trusting you all to hold me accountable.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Countdown to Commit to Sit (aka the 1st of July)

In a few days I'll be doing the Commit to Sit challenge again.  I've done this before but this time I want to try it from a different perspective.  I had some interesting "coincidences" occur to help me make a final decision about my personal Commit to Sit direction.

For instance, this article that was linked in an email I received this morning, "I Like it . . . but is it Meditation?: An Appreciation of Every Day Mindfulness" by Barry Evans.  A quick skim and you'll see that Evans has a traditional meditation practice but he considers other rituals in his life a part of his meditation practice.

Sort of like my encouraging you to choose a practice that fits your spiritual needs, don't you think?

I also found this article and wanted to share it:  "Seekers Explore Alternative Paths to God"

For those who are already thinking about joining me but haven't chosen how you will do the challenge, whether you will do precisely what the article prescribes or branch out in your own spiritual direction, one that fits your unique needs.

There's truly no right way to do this.  Think of the article as a "formula" and how you apply the practice to your own life is not something you can do right or wrong so long as it is right for you.

And for those who are reading this without a clue, read this post to do a quick catch up.  I do hope you will join me.  I'll be sharing more about what I'll be doing soon.  In the meantime, at least consider the possibility for yourself if you haven't already decided that yes, this is something that is interesting to you.  (Or even if you've immediately thought it sounded like a miserable idea altogether.  I mean, not everyone wants to explore these things and certainly not on my timetable.)

We begin on 1 July, only a few days away.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Satia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Satia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
"Satia is an old Persian word means friendship."
You learn something new every day. Or at least I learn something new every day.

The Empire State Building

I've never been a fan of how the powers that be started changing the colors on the top of the Empire State Building.  Even at Christmas, I wasn't a big fan of the red and green lights.  But I have to say that seeing this made me happy and a little homesick.