Stop to Smell the Dandelions

We were driving home from a birthday party this hot Sunday afternoon, sweaty and sticky, with a frustrated toddler in the backseat, when I spied a little secret garden of dandelions along the roadside in their glorious “wishing” prime.

It had been a weekend of projects, social gatherings, long conversations, big decisions, errands and commitments. I felt the self-imposed pressure of getting home for dinner, baths, and bedtime routine. We were all tired. There was a good chance Arlo would lose his mind at being removed and then replaced into the car seat…
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But there were just so many wishes to be wished.

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And it was a pure magic.

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Always choose the wishes.

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Practice Space

I used to be quite attached to my meditation space. Especially in the early days of my practice, I leaned heavily on the familiarity of my surroundings, my cushion, my blanket. And I do think there is some real value in consistency when it comes to sitting. A dedicated meditation space not only makes practice easy (everything is already set up!), but serves as a constant reminder to make the time to sit, and allows one to slip more quickly and easily into that mental space.

But more recently I’ve started to appreciate a more fluid style. In simple terms, my home doesn’t have the square footage for a meditation room. My life – and schedule – isn’t always predictable with two young children. My days are full and time is precious. Alone time is virtually unheard of.

It occurred to me one day to set up my window altar, with the hopes that I would be reminded to take the time to breathe whenever a quiet moment presented itself. Or, that while doing the dishes, preparing food, etc., I might gaze down and remember to pause. Or, that sometimes when I’m in the midst of chaos, I can simply retreat to my kitchen window and take a deep breath

Now sometimes when my house gets crazy, one of us – either me, my husband, or even our daughter – rings the singing bowl and everyone smiles. It’s our little joke, but it is a real signal to each other to quiet our hearts and minds for just a moment.

Lately my sweet 1-year old boy has decided to protest any and all forms of sleep… so once he crashes out in the car while we’re running errands, I’ve been doing a lot of driving around and/or sitting in a parking lot. It has totally kaiboshed my regular at-home practice time. So no bother. Today, this was the view from my ‘cushion’ (ie. drivers’ side car seat):

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I’ll take my meditation time wherever I can get it.

Metta Here, Metta There

My heart has been heavy lately, so it felt really wonderful to sit with a heart full of love last night, and lead a metta for a room of friends and strangers.

My passion for the practice grows every day as I see how it transforms people, and how it transforms me. It is such a profound honour to introduce people to this work, and to share in sending and receiving the energy of lovingkindness together as a group.

What I know is that love can change the world.

I know that love can change an outlook, a relationship, a moment, a life.

It is easy to be mindful when the present is so fulfilling.

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Metta to Jude

Loss is one of those things that really puts life into perspective.

A mom I know lost her little boy on Friday. She put him down for his afternoon nap, and he never woke up. He was only two and a half.

My mindful/buddhist background reminds me that nothing is permanent, and as morbid as it seems, witnessing death around me helps me to be more present and appreciative in my day to day life.

There is also a strange comfort in recognizing that some things are simply out of our control. I cannot protect my kids against everything. It’s horrifying and also freeing.

That’s what my brain tells me.

But the truth is, Jude’s death has rocked my world. I cannot sleep. I cannot stop thinking about him, his sweet little face. And his mama, Jill. And how easily this could be us. And I question how I could survive a tragedy so horrible. This really touches on all of my worst fears: that you can put your baby down to sleep, and have them never wake up again. There is no rhyme or reason, and no way to protect or predict. It’s terrifying.

It makes me acutely aware that I’m wholly and desperately attached to my children. How can you not be? How can you tell yourself to “let go,” when the letting go is about the life of your baby?

I believe that loved ones do not leave us, but their energy lives on in the words they spoke, the things they did, and the memories we hold… But when a sweet child is only 2, there’s so very little to take comfort in. No stories or songs, only love.

I can’t even go on. There are no words.

Metta to that dear, grieving family.

Metta to Jude.

Good Morning Sunshine

My daughter used to wake up at crazy hours of the morning. I remember starting my day in the dark of night countless times, accomplishing more before 9am than anyone should. Then she reached an age where she could (mostly) understand logic, and we started convincing her that 7am was an appropriate wake-up time.

Of course, when our son arrived last year, he wasn’t interested in participating in this routine. His ideal wake-up time would be sometime between 5- 6am, although I could often manage to snuggle and rock him in a half-sleep sort of state for at least an extra hour each morning. He’s not exactly an early bird, but he has a lot of learning and playing to do, you see.

Since his birthday though, Arlo’s been fairly insistent about getting up early, and only accepts a small amount of cuddling before he’s fighting me to get out of bed.

Fighting, I say, because I am working hard to convince him that we should keep sleeping (or at least resting) as long as possible, while he plays, talks, and finally tries to push/crawl away from me.

I cannot explain why every fiber of my being resists getting out of bed before 6:30 with two busy children around me. Perhaps it’s because I don’t go to bed early enough at night, or perhaps it’s the prospect of entertaining the kids for an extra 2 hours before we have to leave for school, or perhaps just the fear of having a tired, cranky baby on my hands… But in any case, I recognize my attachment to “sleeping in”.

Something interesting has happened this week, however. This week I’ve challenged myself to let go of my attachment and make peace with the situation. I’ve decided just to accept getting up early.

It’s been a surprising difference. I have observed that a big part of the discomfort of waking up early is simply my attitude. Nothing miserable happens between the hours of 5 and 7am… it’s really just my own grumpiness that’s painful, and I’m the biggest victim of my own emotions.

Today I decided to appreciate the luxury of having so much time to get ready. I drank a coffee and made myself a nice breakfast while the kids played. I cleaned up a couple loose ends around the house. I sat on the floor and played blocks and laughed with my babies.

I really watched them as they built, and chatted, and bickered. And I was able to notice how tiny they are, and how fleeting this moment.

Imagine how sad it would have been to sleep through that.

Where “I” Begin and End

This past weekend I did a past life regression hypnosis session. It was a magical opportunity to step outside my current life – with all its joy and stress – and catch a glimpse of the bigger picture. Whatever your belief system, level of skepticism, etc., the important thing is that this experience left me with a couple of lingering thoughts/questions.

Since my session, I have been overwhelmingly caught up in realizing that the “me” I experience 95% of the time isn’t really more than a shell. I know this on a fairly deep level anyway – that I am more than just “a wife”, “a mother”, “a buddhist”, “a writer”, or any of the other labels I give myself. When I quit my job, I knew I was still “myself”. If I colour my hair, or lose weight, or move to a different country, I still recognize that I’m my same self. Even beyond my wife/mother labels, I recognize that there is a distinct and separate “self.” I can easily see that the essence of me is much deeper than any of that. But it’s interesting that some labels are more difficult to put aside. I’m also more than my insecurities, my strengths or my weaknesses, or the core characteristics I would typically name for my soul: that I am artistic, or spiritual, or loving. These labels are just ways I define myself in this current situation. Imagining the view from another body really helped me to internalize that I am more (or less) than all of that too. What if I wasn’t artistic? Or spiritual? Or loving? Would I still be me?

It left me wondering about where these labels begin and end. What really does exist at the core of me?

It left me thinking about how all of our soul cores are so much less complicated than we make them, so beautifully simple.

I also realized how much easier it is to love myself when I strip away all the labels. All of the things I dislike about myself are transitory, and none of those surface-level qualities define me, or make me lovable/unlovable. It is much easier to love the spirit of me.

Recognizing that everyone around me is also much more than they appear, I wonder how it’s possible to dislike anyone at all. It is much easier to love the spirit of all other beings.

We are all beautiful souls walking around in these bodies, equally worthy of love respect.