Poetry ~ Winter

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In this land of winter,
     stillness calls my name
     and with each fallen snowflake
     autumn’s forest is reclaimed.
In this time of winter,
     the darkness reaches deep
     and draws light from the night 
     as woodland creatures sleep.
In this time of winter,
     in my cabin by the stream,
     I rest my weary body
     and allow my heart to dream.
In this time of winter,
     my eyes grow grey and dim
     and I foresee the coming
     of this life that’s soon to end.
Yet, in this time of winter,
     I am reminded of ‘the way‘ 
     that just as nature falls asleep
     she shall awaken one spring day.

The Secret of the Middle Way

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Do you ever feel out of balance, off kilter, in need of centering? Is your energy negative and destructive?

There is a way to live a more peaceful life. The path to a more productive and peaceful life is not a secret, it’s outlined in ancient text as part of the wisdom traditions. In this post, we will explore that ancient text in Michael Singer’s chapter, The Secrets of the Middle Way. Here Singer introduces us to the Tao Te Ching, known as “The Book of The Way”, written by Lao Tzu in the 6th century.

“The Tao is so subtle that one can only walk around its edges, but never actually touch it. In that treaties, the very basis for the principles of all life is laid down. It is a treatise on the balance of the yin and the yang, the feminine and the masculine, the dark and the light. You could easily read the Tao Te Ching and never understand a single word, or you could read it and tears could pour from your eyes with every word you read.” ~ Singer

My first experience reading the Tao over twenty years ago was the former – I couldn’t make sense of it. I was a spiritual newbie, but some ten years later I read it again and had the latter experience of tears and goosebumps as every word came to life for me in a way that opened my eyes.

The middle way is a philosophy also shared by Buddhist, who follow the middle path of wisdom by following the noble eightfold path. Similarly, the Tao points us toward the middle way, toward balance, by reminding us not to push against life.

“It’s the place where there is no energy pushing in either direction. The pendulum has been permitted to come to balance concerning food, relationships, sex, money, doing, non-doing, and everything else. Everything has its yin and yang.” ~ Singer

At this point, you may be thinking that the middle way or middle path is static, without momentum or energy. Nothing could be further from the truth, because once you stop wasting your energy fighting and resisting life out there on the extremes, you will find you have enormous amounts of energy to solve problems, get work done and move forward.

Even the Buddhists are clear on this matter, the middle path is a place of investigation, seeking knowledge, wisdom, and truth. It is not a passive existence. The middle path is filled with curiosity, excitement, analysis and exploration. Focusing your energies on the middle path ensures a life of adventure! When the yin and yang are in balance, there is enormous power and energy available to you. But you might be wondering how to stop swinging to the extremes.

“The Way is in the middle because that’s the place where the energies are balanced. But how do you stop the pendulum from swinging to the outer edges? Amazingly enough, you do this by leaving it alone. It won’t keep swinging to the extremes unless you feed the extremes with energy. Just let the extremes go. Don’t participate in them, and the pendulum will naturally come toward the center.” ~ Singer

On the other hand, Singer does acknowledge that the extremes can be good teachers. If we can get perspective and look at a situation objectively (often this takes hindsight) we can see where we went off the rails, swinging to the extreme. We can also see how much emotional energy was consumed by living on the extreme edge.

So what does not participating in the extremes look like? For me, lately, it’s been limiting my social media experiences and even the news. I engage just enough to stay informed and then turn it all off and go for a walk, work in my winter garden, make a pot of beef stew, or write a blog about how to stay centered. LOL.

But seriously, try applying this principle of balance and centering to your daily routine. Limit your exposure to negativity as best you can. Make time for yourself and those activities that fill your soul. It is winter, after all, a time of rest and restoration.

And remember, although you can’t control external events, you can control how you choose to respond.  Focus some of that energy inward and take care of yourself!

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~Namaste

What You Resist, Persists!

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Do you think it’s possible to live your life free of stress, problems, fear, and melodrama? Michael Singer tells us that a peaceful life is possible if we stop resisting life’s events. In his chapter entitled, The Spiritual Path of Nonresistance, Singer warns that resistance is a tremendous waste of energy.

“The fact is, you’re generally using your will to resist one of two things: that which has already happened or that which hasn’t happened yet. It is not life’s events that are causing problems or stress. It is your resistance to life’s events that is causing this experience.” ~Singer

He’s right! What’s the point of lamenting over something that’s already happened or wasting time and energy worrying about events that aren’t likely to happen? If there are lessons to be learned from the past or plans to be made for the future, those are best done in the present moment where your true power resides.

But let’s explore this idea of using our “will” to resist life’s events. Singer talks about how we can use our will power, or the Power of the Self, to block our own energy. This happens when we hold onto our thoughts and emotions instead of letting them pass through us.

“Stress only happens when you resist life’s events. If you’re neither pushing life away nor pulling it toward you, then you are not creating any resistance. You are simply present.” ~ Singer

We can also use the Power of the Self, to examine what we resist in life. Why do we resist some events and let others pass through without notice? Why do we care what some people think and not others? What offends us and causes us to become defensive? This process requires self-reflection without judgment.

 “You will be surprised to find that in most situations there is nothing to deal with except for your own fears and desires.” ~ Singer

If you look deep inside, your fears and desires will reveal themselves, unearthing the seeds of your suffering. The reality is, you have to stop watering the seeds! Through the process of awareness, you can stop the seeds from growing by letting the energy pass through you rather than resisting.

I’m reminded of the Taoist concept, “Wu-wei, effortless effort” which is another way of saying “do nothing and let go”.  In Taoist terms, there is a recognition that this world is beyond our control and to live a more peaceful existence we must practice patience and acceptance.

I don’t know that my life will ever be completely free of stress and drama but I take comfort in knowing that the extent of my mental suffering is based on how much energy I give my thoughts and emotions. I may not be able to control the world around me or the people in it, but I can control where I focus my energy.

This week try practicing the art of awareness. Stop and reflect when you find yourself pushing life away or pulling it toward you. Then, let it go.  Be patient with yourself and others as you walk the spiritual path of nonresistance.

~Namaste