Friday, February 29, 2008

daily rituals

upon returning to the spaciousness and quiet, stretching moments that i find in my high-rise sanctuary, i notice that each day is made up of so many rituals. habits. patterns that are repeated again and again, many of which i hardly even notice half the time. with a renewed sense of longing to embody a more mindful presence in my daily life, i have begun to establish rituals in the last three days that i feel will support and cultivate this mindfulness i am yearning for.
jet lag is a gift sometimes because i find i can get my body on an entirely new sleeping/waking schedule. the goal: to be the early bird who gets the worm! so, around 6:30am i light a candle, brew some warm lemon water, take down the book from the shelf and read a daily passage from thich nhat hanh's "present moment, wonderful moment: mindfulness verses for daily living." after many years of my family reading from the lutheran "daily bread" devotional every morning at breakfast, i find something of a childhood comfort in the familiarity of this ritual.

after reading slowly, i close my eyes and sit quietly for about 20 minutes. the last several days have shown me once again how active the mind can be. planning and remembering seem to be my favorites! pema chodron (in her dharma talk "getting unstuck") speaks of this whole being distracted thing as a very ordinary situation! none of us are unusual in our tendency to not be present. she says that it's like sentient beings have in their DNA a habituation to moving away from the present moment. we think about things constantly and this takes us away from being able to contact the immediacy of our experience in each moment. seems we are lost in thought, fantasies, plans so much of the time. pema speaks of us getting a great deal of comfort and security from distracting ourselves...we like it, so it gets stronger. she says, "whatever you do, you are strengthening the habit of that action. we get to choose what we want to get better at. interestingly enough, we tend to get better at things we don't like about ourselves. the urge arises, then we do it, which strengthens it and then we do it more."

by the end of fall semester here in korea, i was no longer meditating each morning, i was turning on my computer and checking my email and various blogs immediately upon waking. even noticing some of the time that this was not a beginning-of-the-day-ritual supportive of mindfulness and awakening, i still chose to do it because each time i did, it got easier to do the next time and less and less awareness accompanied the action every time. i liked the initial satisfaction of opening my email box and seeing messages from loved ones, but after a few minutes i often didn't like the way i felt in my body sitting there at the computer. it felt cramped, restless, and increasingly agitated. sometimes i would walk away from the screen upon feeling the discomfort, but most of the time i would push through those feelings and just sit there until i either went numb to them or was ready to pull my hair out.
i notice now that when i sit quietly first thing in the morning, that experience of expansion, intention, and mindful breathing informs my entire day. and the interesting thing is that i am actually feeling less of a desire to sit at the computer for prolonged periods of time, let alone during the first moments of each new day. it simply doesn't appeal to me in the same way.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

back in korea

after two extraordinary months of traveling around vietnam, cambodia, thailand and spending time with friends and family back in the u.s., i have arrived once again in korea...ready to embark upon a second semester teaching abroad.
i am massively jet-lagging at the moment, so to keep myself awake until a decent hour this evening i have been surfing youtube! a dangerous activity as minutes can turn into hours! i saw some marvelous films while i was in the are a couple of short youtube clips from my favorites....

"let it be" sung by carol woods and timothy mitchum from the musical/film, "across the universe," featuring beatles tunes:

"and when the night is cloudy, there is still a light, that shines on me,
shine until tomorrow, let it be.
i wake up to the sound of music, mother mary comes to me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be."

another great scene from "across the universe" with t.v. carpio singing "i want to hold your hand:"

scenes from "once" starring glen hansard and marketa irglova singing "falling slowly" - winner of best song at this year's academy awards:
(HOORAY for independent musicians!!)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

"freedom can come only from contemplating death, not from pretending it doesn't exist...
freedom comes not from holding your life more precious or sacred than others'. not from consuming more than your share.
freedom is not knowing something when you don't know it.
freedom means i may not be identified with any one group, but i can visit and find myself in every group. freedom does not mean i don't have values or beliefs. but it does mean i am not hardened around them. i do not use them as weapons.
freedom cannot be bought or arranged or made with bombs or guards. it is deeper. it is a process. it is the acute awareness that we are all utterly interdependent. that economic injustice and inequity creates an environment of global despair and rage that, until balanced, will inevitably lead to hatred and violence.
freedom is not only being able to tolerate mystery, complexity, ambiguity, but hungering for them and only trusting a situation when they are present.
not owned, not occupied, not bought.
finding the place in me that connects with every person i meet rather than being different, better, or on top.
believing there is a power determining everything at the same moment that i know there is absolutely no one in charge...
freedom is about becoming vulnerable to one another, rather than becoming secure, in control and alone."

by: eve ensler (pictured below)
from her book: "insecure at last: losing it in our security obsessed world"

Thursday, February 14, 2008

everywhere i go

"my home is in my heart
it migrates with me."

-nils-aslak valkeapaa (sami poet)
from "trekways of the wind"

-the quilt pictured above found at:

Thursday, February 7, 2008

"come, come, my conservative friend, wipe the dew off your spectacles, and see that the world is moving."

-elizabeth cady stanton

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


charlotte: "i just don't know what i'm supposed to be."

bob: "you'll figure that out. the more you know who you are and what you want, the less you let things upset you."

-from the film: "lost in translation"
-painting: "the flower seller" by diego rivera