A monk told Joshu: “I have just entered the monastery. Please teach me.”
Joshu asked: “Have you eaten your rice porridge?”
The monk replied: “I have eaten.”
Joshu said: “Then you had better wash your bowl.”
At that moment the monk was enlightened.
Leo Babauta: “There is something profound and yet minimalist about this advice. It’s: don’t get your head caught up in all this thinking about the meaning of life … instead, just do. Just wash your bowl. And in the washing, you’ll find all you need.”
This story is about just doing whatever it is that needs to be done. It is not about getting a huge task done; it is about taking the next step. Often, we are overwhelmed by the grandness of our ideas or our to-do lists. Just take the next small step. You can plan and think until you are blue in the face, but the next small step is what keeps you moving forward. When you feel stuck or you are avoiding due to fear of failure or how big an endeavor seems, come back to this Zen story. The monk in the story simply told the student to wash the bowl after eating.
Radical acceptance. It means accepting what is as it is. I ask you, in what way do you have another option? Either you are accepting what is or trying to deny what is. And that doesn't mean you have to like how things are. You have to accept them but not necessarily like them.
Does that make sense?
It's like if I had a box of assorted chocolates and I pick one without knowing its flavor. If I bite in to find a cherry or a rum filling, I am not going to be happy; I am probably going to spit it out.
But I accept that I bit into a chocolate I do not like. That doesn't mean I am happy about it. It doesn't mean I can go back and choose a different one. It is what it is.
And I think where a lot of people get stuck is in thinking this means things cannot change in the future. That's just not true.
What I am actually doing as I write this is radically accepting the fact that I am about to eat an entire jar of lemon curd all by myself! Why lament? It is what it is! I am not going to waste time feeling guilty. I am not going to waste time worrying I may feel sick later. If I do, I will radically accept that. Right now, I commit to being present with a tangy sweetness glopped onto a graham cracker and I am smiling:)
T "There are no wrong turnings. Only paths we had not known we were meant to walk."
Guy Gavriel Kay
H "H.O.P.E. = Hold On. Pain Ends." Deodatta V. Shenai-Khatkhate
E “Embrace the glorious mess that you are.” Elizabeth Gilbert
M "More important than learning how to recall things is finding ways to forget things that are cluttering the mind." James Waddell Alexander, II
O "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." Confucius
N "Nothing is impossible, the word itself says “I’m possible”! -- Audrey Hepburn
T "Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears." -- Les Brown
H "“Happiness is not by chance, but by choice.” – Jim Rohn
O “Optimism is the one quality more associated with success and happiness than any other.” Brian Tracy
F "Facing it, always facing it, that's the way to get through. Face it." Joseph Conrad
M "Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler." Albert Einstein
A “Always keep your eyes open. Keep watching. Because whatever you see can inspire you.” —
Y “You cannot save people, you can just love them.” — Anaïs Nin
I lost my sense of smell somewhere along the path of yesterday. It wasn't something I noticed immediately; it became a question in my mind after I realized a candy cane I was crunching on seemed devoid of peppermint flavor. I shoved my nose in candles and dog treats to test this new discovery to find nothing. I found this discovery more entertaining than disappointing. And I thought about how people always ask, "If you knew you had only one more day to live what would you do differently?" I reframed the question and asked myself, had I known yesterday I would lose my sense of smell, what would I taken a big whiff of? And I truly laughed! The answer was nothing. If we are truly present and engaging with life, both of those answers should be nothing. If I long for a whiff of pizza, that's on me for not being truly present with the last slice I ate. It's January; symbolic of new beginnings. Move on down your path with awareness, presence, and curiosity.
As I write this, I am doling out candy to witches, and ghosts, and princesses. I am also handing out candy to costumes I do not understand; costumes that I cannot connect with their TV or movie origin. And, so, I think about that and the passing of time. When you read this, it will be November. Change will be in air as the nights grow darker sooner and the air takes on a frigidity that makes the nose take notice.
I think of gratitude. Not just because that is what you are supposed to do in November when Thanksgiving roles around. But the kind of gratitude that makes each day worthy on its own merit.
Maybe most importantly, gratitude is a practice.
Maureen McCullough wrote, "My socks may not match, but my feet are always warm.”
This quote identifies the perspective shift that needs to occur for us to embrace gratitude. How many times have you said, "This has been a bad day"? Has the whole day really been bad or did one thing occur that set off your mood?
“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.” – Alphonse Karr
Some people are grateful for cookies or chocolate or caramel... as I eat, I mean hand out Halloween candy, I am grateful Twix has all three:)
October challenge...since Halloween is my favorite holiday:)
1. Decorate a pumpkin while somehow adding in a yoga theme
2. Take a picture doing a yoga pose with a Halloween theme
3. Your idea but must combine Halloween and yoga.
Post on my website and send me your picture for next month's newsletter. You have all of October to post. Prize for the first to post and prize for most creative (as chosen by yours truly!)
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
As we head into fall, the sun slowly backs away from us, so slowly in hopes we do not notice until the wind's chill brings our focus to the present. The sunflower locks its gaze on the sun and never turns away from the warmth that embraces its face. This flower has the ability from within to continue to turn as the sun moves through the sky so the two never lose sight of each other. Is that the love Rumi speaks of? Basking so openly in the presence of the other without walls?
Yellow is the color of the solar plexus: the energy center that balances when we relinquish ideas of control and embrace the Self. Assembling barriers to "protect" oneself is a form of control. Knock the sand castle down. Breathe in the September air. Look for semblances of you in each red leaf, in each stored acorn, in each dried up flower. September houses the shortest day of the year so make your moments matter. When you release control, and the barriers your seeking of control allowed you to build, love seeks you.
My Mother's Day present this year from my daughter was a photo shoot of my book with her friend, Jake! I love it!!! So, introducing Jake in photo #1. Be prepared to see him pop up on occasion. Or give him a shout-out:)
Here's your challenge...
Send me your creative photos with my book in the shot (The Horizon is Here is on Amazon), and for extra bonus points, include a caption for me to post!
I wrapped myself like a cocoon last night, my blankets drawn tight around me. Only my nose sought solace to breathe in the cool area surrounding my cocoon...my shield or my entrapment? A caterpillar stays in his/her cocoon until ready to emerge into a completely different specimen. It is protected from outside elements. What is going on inside, though, is the theme of inactivity versus action. While the cocoon lies still, its body works hard to create change. Perhaps its mind is thinking a mile a minute; perhaps its mind is like a still pond's reflection.
We all have experiences where our insides are ramped up, speeding along highways only we can traverse. To the outsider, we may appear calm but we feel anything but. For certain, some deep breathing would help . Try breathing in four counts through the nose, holding for seven, and exhaling eight through the mouth. A shield may be helpful as well. Visualize a light surrounding you, or a soft blanket of warm energy, and allow it to create a barrier between you and everything else. And, when you have time to sit still, allow your body and mind to rest inactive while the breath takes over as the action that brings in peace.
The cocoon you place (or visualize) around you represents meditation, wisdom, prayer, and trust...trust that you will emerge with a new idea, or at least a more peaceful presentation, of how to move forward on your path.
I typed in the word "humble" and stumbled across the picture above. It makes me think of so many things that have transpired over the past year. I am first drawn to the monk's mask. In our yoga classes together, we have often talked about the masks we wear, but I was never referring to a tangible and literal mask. What we once scrambled to find a year ago has become mainstream. And our masks can reflect our personalities, our favorite sports teams, our opinions, our favorite colors.
I see the monk's yellow and orange robes, which are common colors but can be interpreted by the chakras they correlate with. The orange connects to the sacral chakra, and its element is water. This energy center is about flowing along with life, and that has definitely been a necessity over the past year. Some of us, at times, may have felt the flow was more like a tsunami and its devastating effects, perhaps, still linger. The yellow is the color of the solar plexus; the center associated with fire and digestion. This year has felt much like putting out fires and, when I think about the digestion aspect, I think about all the people who have gone hungry and still are. I read a news story just this morning about a little girl who broke down in her Zoom classroom because she and her family were starving. I think of her inner strength to say those words aloud and how the majority of us would jump to deliver food immediately and offer help. We often do not know where help is needed until someone voices desperation....
I look at the bowl the monk is holding. The metal reflects that around it and symbolically offers reflection into what has transpired. There are flags in the picture behind the monk and this makes me feel hopeful...let me tell you why. I have been afforded the opportunity to pop into Zoom meetings/classes around the world. In my Death Cafe meetings, I have new friends from Canada, Australia, Costa Rica, England, and all over the United States. As well, my son and I have been playing a geography game called geoguesser and, boy, does it help if you know your flags! So, I think of all the time I have been fortunate enough to spend with my kids. I still wish they were able to be where they want to be, but I am hopeful they eventually will. So we bond and pass the time playing cards, and trivia, and goofy family games that we make up.
Perhaps the most impactful aspect of this picture to me is that I found it on unsplash.com; it is a free stock photo posted by someone named Tenzin Namgyal (thank you!) and anybody can use it. It was just sitting out there in Internet space, it's meaning hidden until someone stumbled upon it. I had typed in the word humble and this picture found me...
Copyright June 2020- May 2022
I write to empower people in their lives. Whether it is a mantra, positive intention, sign from the Universe or something altogether different, I just hope you find something inspirational in what I write that seems to be what you needed