On a pilgrimage to Mount Shasta, butterflies became my spiritual teachers.
One of my favorite places in the world is Mount Shasta, and of all the sacred and beautiful locales around this mountain, I love a particular meadow about half-way up the slope. The source of its beauty – that nourishes the abundant life there – is a pristine spring.
This is where I like to sit when I visit, right next to the spring. Not only am I able to hear its sweet trickling sound and dip my feet in the freshly-melted-from-the-glacier water, but I’m able to look over the many wildflowers blooming around the tiny stream. And along with the flowers come the butterflies.
I’ve only been to a couple places that had more butterflies (I have seen Monarchs on their migration). There’s a lovely variety of them, too – orange and brown, white, periwinkle. They tend to linger nearby on the warm step stones, not just on the flowers. And this is when I get excited, because I love to coax them onto my fingers. Continue Reading
Thanksgiving: a unique American holiday that is universal, unlimited by religion, race, or any category. It’s a special time to come together with family and friends to feel gratitude on this day of the celebration of abundance (oh yeah, and feasting!).
But for some of us, this isn’t an entirely pleasant holiday. We may be faced with “going home” to tension, crazy family dynamics, feeling ignored or attacked, possibly being the black sheep of the family. Perhaps you are hosting a large gathering, and stressed about pleasing everyone’s palates – or having everyone in your house! There may be a recent loss in the family that makes holidays, especially the most family-oriented one of the year, somewhat painful. Or we may be apart from our family, or feel that we don’t have one, and are faced with spending this holiday alone.
Every morning, shortly after I wake, I do my “sit-spot” practice outside in our front yard. This is a practice of simply sitting and being present with everything in nature. It’s a beautiful way to begin my day with the freshness of the morning air, the sun beginning to peek through the leaves, the squirrels racing up and down the oak trees, and most of all, the birdsong.
I relish hearing the variety of birds in our neighborhood. On those beautiful, bright, sunny mornings it is pure delight to sit by our grassy patch and hear a bird calling from the tall redwood tree 5 houses down to the right, and to hear the high-pitched clicking sound of a hummingbird as it zooms in for a drink from our Mexican sage.
This morning, however, was quite different than the others for the last couple of months. It was dense with cloud-cover, and rain was expected. For California in June, this is rare. With ordinary eyes, one might wake up, see the dismal looking skies, and decide to just pull the covers over the head and go back to sleep. A dreary, cloudy day. Continue Reading
I have this painting you see here on my stairway. It’s a print of a watercolor of my spiritual teacher, Amma. I fell in love with it a few years ago, and knew it would look lovely on the landing of our stairs.
Every day, as I descend the 7 steps at the top of our staircase, I pause facing her image. Her eyes are closed and she has radiance beaming from her third eye in the center of her forehead. She holds her hands reverently, just above her solar plexus, in some sort of mudra – similar to folding them in prayer, but the tips of the little and index fingers touch.
Every time I come down the stairs, I take a few moments to pause with her image. I, too, close my eyes, and take a mindful breath. I put my hands in the mudra, and imagine the light at my 6th chakra. I silence my mind, if only for a moment. Continue Reading
The mind likes to do a lot of comparing. Am I doing as well as that person over there? My yoga poses suck. I am the best in the class! Their car is nicer than mine. It would be easy to write pages of this, wouldn’t it? It’s all too familiar.
In my years as a counselor, it’s become apparent to me that comparison is the root of depression. We wish things were different than they are, and we tend to focus on what we don’t have, or what isn’t happening right now. This is a sure-fire way to ruin your mood, and it does nothing for creating what you really want. Continue Reading