Friday, April 4, 2008

Gentler still

The pollen count has been pretty high lately, leaving me a little sniffly and sneezy this week. I've honestly barely noticed it there's been so much other stuff going on . . . until today. The appearance of allergies has turned into the appearance of a cold, and my head feels so stuffy I can barely think. The funny thing is, all of my messages for today were to just be, not to act, to allow and sit in the silence, to be receptive and let the universe do the work. Unfortunately, my body must have thought I wouldn't listen to these messages and so it created something that would force me into stillness. I have to laugh because this is gentler than many of my other recent messages, so it would appear the "Gently, please!" message has gotten across. Next up: recalibrating my body's idea of what "gently" means.

I'd like to share a favorite passage of Annie Dillard's originally from her book Teaching a Stone to Talk, although I found this excerpt in Life Prayers:

At a certain point you say to the woods, to the sea, to the mountains, the world, Now I am ready. Now I will stop and be wholly attentive. You empty yourself and wait, listening. After a time you hear it: there is nothing there. There is nothing but those things only, those created objects, discrete, growing or holding, or swaying, being rained on or raining, held, flooding or ebbing, standing, or spread. You feel the world's word as a tension, a hum, a single chorused note everywhere the same. This is it: this hum is the silence . . .

The silence is all there is. It is the alpha and the omega. It is God's brooding over the face of the waters; it is the blended note of the ten thousand things, the whine of wings. You take a step in the right direction to pray to this silence, and even to address the prayer to "World." Distinctions blur. Quit your tents. Pray without ceasing.

Photo: "gentle curve," originally uploaded by yugoQ

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Notes from Jenn's World

Just a quick check-in about what's going on in my world . . .

Friends abound!

I had lunch with former colleagues of mine, Mary and Maria, I'm heading out shortly for coffee with Annelene, a buddy from the Hoffman Process, and then Jerry, a friend from my former spiritual community, is in town so a bunch of us are joining him for dinner this evening. Considering how much time I spend by myself most days, it feels good to be reconnecting with so many wise and wonderful people today. Life is good!

Avon Walk for Breast Cancer

It is so much fun to be training for this walk coming up in July--I just love watching my body and mind get stronger as the weeks progress. I am moving up to 8 miles Saturday, 5 miles Sunday in my training program this weekend. I went for a wonderful 3-mile walk today up at the reservoir--it was so warm and sunny and the air smelled so sweet. Aaaah . . . And, of course, everyone's generous donations keep coming in. I'm up to 37% of my personal goal and 74% of my requirement. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Spiritual Fitness

It's official! I'm kicking off my first class in a few weeks, based on the book Spiritual Fitness by the wonderful Caroline Reynolds. Preparing for this class is already so much fun--I can't wait to get into the material with everyone! If you're interested, you can check out my new website and click on the Classes tab for more information. Yes, it's true, I am in the process of creating a new website for myself, which means ultimately I will be moving away from this one. As wonderful as this platform has been for blogging, as I branch out into new arenas, I need greater flexibility from my website. I'm still working out the kinks over there and would love feedback as I go, so please check it out and let me know what you think!


I am just feeling so grateful to life and to this path today. I received my first tithe from a friend who has been enjoying Learning to Fly. This experiencing in exploring life and then getting to share it has been such an amazing ride for me that sometimes I forget that folks are out there reading as well, and it is inspiring to me that they find inspiration in what I write. So it's just a big tumble of gratitude happening here all the way around. I love all the feedback I get in all its myriad forms--it's such an affirmation of the work I'm doing. Thank you!

So, what's going on with you? What are you grateful for? I'd love to hear all about any flow and synchronicity you are experiencing in your life. It truly is a wonderful world we live in. Namaste.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A New Earth: The Pain-Body

Jenn's thoughts and learnings from the fifth week of A New Earth: The Oprah Web Event.

Nothing ever happened in the past that can prevent you from being present now; and if the past cannot prevent you from being present now, what power does it have?
~Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth

Ah, the pain-body. There's some really good stuff to be learned and applied here with this chapter and segment of the A New Earth webinar. In addition to two stories that I've heard many times before and still just get so much out of, I had one really big Aha! moment that I'll share with you.

The Duck With a Human Mind
Eckhart tells this story in both The Power of Now and A New Earth. He was watching two ducks on a pond one day. When they got a little too close, perhaps in each other's territory, there was a big flutter of commotion and a brief battle ensued. They separated from each other, still agitated, and then both lifted themselves up and shook their wings vigorously, releasing the energy from the fight and leaving them free to float away peacefully. It's a story that shows you how our human mind and human thought processes are not always a gift. When two people have an altercation like this, they walk away muttering to themselves, retelling the story, preparing themselves for how they'll act next time based on this occurrence. People relive the pain of a single moment hundreds if not thousands, or even millions, of times, causing ongoing pain instead of temporary pain. There is a great lesson to learn from the ducks about experiencing the emotion and then just shaking your wings, letting it slide right off of you, not telling yourself the story over and over again reliving the pain.

Carrying the Past
Oh how I love this Zen story. I've heard it dozens of times, but gain deeper awareness with each retelling. In Eckhart's words:

"Two Zen monks, Tanzan and Ekido, . . . were talking along a country road that had become exremely muddy after heavy rains. Near a village, they came upon a young woman who was trying to cross the road, but the mud was so deep it would have ruined the silk kimono she was wearing. Tanzan at once picked her up and carried her to the other side. The monks walked on in silence. Five hours later, as they were approaching the lodging temple, Ekido couldn't restrain himself any longer. 'Why did you carry that girl across the road?' he asked. 'We monks are not supposed to do things like that.' 'I put the girl down hours ago,' said Tanzan. 'Are you still carrying her?'"

The past is past. The present is all there is. Let it go, let it go, let it go.

The Monster Within
I've spent more than 15 years connecting with the wisdom I have within me. My big Aha! this week was about the monster within--the pain-body. Do you have anyone in your life that despite all your best efforts, you still clash with, or perhaps they still push your buttons like no one else can? I've got a couple of people in my life that it seems like no matter what I do or say, they find a way to be upset with me, to find fault with me, and ultimately, to push my buttons. Eckhart's description of this as the pain-body really opened my eyes, made me realize that when I feel like the rug has just been pulled out from underneath me and the person I'm interacting with has just undergone a personality change, it's really their pain-body coming out to play. And because these pain-bodies have had so much success getting a reaction out of me in the past, they are going to keep coming at me until I find a way to be fully present with these individuals. Eckhart's advice: don't react, don't judge, just be compassionate, stand still in your awareness and allow the moment to be what it is. If you can remain present and not engage in the drama, the pain-body will either subside or go find someone else to play with. The key there is to remain present, as most pain-bodies are highly skilled in triggering unconsciousness in even the most aware people. This is definitely one for me to practice, alongside increasing my awareness of my own pain-body and its methods for manipulating me and those around me.

Photo: "duck on a pond," originally uploaded by Peter Shanks

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Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Oprah read a poem at the beginning of last night's A New Earth webinar that is one of my absolute favorites. I first heard it many years ago at a spiritual conference where Oriah Mountain Dreamer was giving a workshop. I knew the title but not the author, and I am so grateful that truly nothing is ever lost. This message suffices for today; I will share my thoughts on the webinar itself tomorrow. Namaste.

by David Wagoner

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

Photo: "Aspens," originally uploaded by Nancy Jones-Francis


Yesterday morning as I was meditating, my cat Gryphon curled up in my nap and began chewing on my fingers. It's her morning "Please feed me!" routine, which she usually reserves for waking me up. As Sean and I talked about it last night, he was pondering what the Dalai Lama would have to say to that. As the Dalai Lama is quite practical, Sean thought he would recommend moving the cat, removing the distraction of the nibbling.

This morning I was thinking that yes, the Dalai Lama is practical, which means it isn't likely he would recommend trying to change the behavior of another being. Instead, he would probably look at what little you do have control over. The only being I have control over is myself, but I also have control over where I choose to meditate. Therefore, I've relocated where I meditate to a place that is less likely to encourage kitty nibbling. We'll see how well this works!

What do you think the Dalai Lama would do?

Monday, March 31, 2008

Zen quote

There is nothing left to you at this moment but to have a good laugh.

~Zen saying

Gently, please!

It appears that I need a new mantra. Asking for messages, asking to be open, has left me with bandaids all over my body. As much fun as I am having with my "temporary tattoos" of peace and yin & yang signs, I have to say, I could stand to receive my messages more gently. I'm reminded of Richard from Texas in Eat, Pray, Love--he was asking repeatedly for his heart to be open and to receive a sign when the opening had occurred. After a few months of this prayer, he ended up having open-heart surgery. "So now Richard is always cautious with his prayers, he tells me. 'Whenever I pray for anything these days, I always wrap it up by saying, "Oh, and God? Please be gentle with me, OK?"'"

I can totally relate. In addition to the average, run-of-the-mill stubbed toes and bumped funny bones, I've fallen down the stairs (twice in one week!) and bruised my tailbone, I've had a knee injury that left me literally on the couch for six weeks, I've thrown my back out such that I was unable to get out of bed for three days, I've had countless sinus infections and stomach flus that completely knocked me out. Heck, in the past month alone, I've had a concussion, gotten poison oak, and even stabbed myself in the foot. My friends say I'm a klutz, that I'm accident prone, but I know there has been a message in each of these incidents--usually one that had been ignored previously, which is how it ended up ultimately being delivered in such a large way.

So I've learned that, "Gently, please!" is a good addendum to any request for aid. And perhaps even more importantly, I've learned that I need to be mindful. Mindful of my thoughts, mindful of where I'm going, mindful of what I'm doing. And if I'm asking for messages, if I'm asking for things to be clear, then I really need to listen for an answer. I never saw anything that looked like poison oak, but I know exactly where I was when I brushed up against it because, in retrospect, my intuition had pointed it out to me. As I was walking up to a tree that was hanging out over the sidewalk, a thought popped into my head, "Poison oak!" And I kind of laughed it off and thought, "It's a good thing this branch I'm walking past isn't poison oak." The next day, I had what looked like a spider bite on my arm. Again, poison oak popped into my head. Instead of ignoring it this time, I put a bandaid on it, "just in case." One itchy week later, I definitely know the next time any thought of poison oak pops into my head I will recognize it for the intuitive message that it is. Hindsight may be 20/20, but when we're paying attention, we can have real-time guidance as well.

So I go into this new week with my double request to be more open and to receive messages clearly, but always to have my prayers answered gently. What kinds of messages have you been receiving lately? Could you use to receive them a little more gently? Join me in my "Gently, please!" mantra this week and let me know how it goes! Namaste.

Photo: "La Fleuve," originally uploaded by Powderruns

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