Meditation for slackers and insomniacs

When you think of meditation, does the idea of eliminating thoughts come to mind? It’s really more about substituting one thought for another. A mantra, sound or vision can fill the vacuum that is typically filled with our “to do” list and other annoying thoughts.

Meditation is not so much a destination as it is a journey. Years ago I used to let my brain get a cramp trying to get somewhere. Now I sometimes use a mantra learned decades ago with TM or picture myself under a lovely evergreen tree. You can use the classic OM sound or picture something that gives you tranquility.

Other techniques that required me to remember successive affirmations have long ago been forgotten. I found them burdensome. When I’m awake at night I use the meditation tool to fall back asleep. I’m sure I’ll be scolded by some as you’re taught to sit upright so that you’re in a state of calm consciousness. I think I hit that zone during the transition back to sleep in my bed at night!

Orange obsession

orange-shoe-2I noticed orange a few weeks ago. It was the first color I was aware of one morning with the early light. It’s the only color I see now when I look at clothing. The placemat in the restaurant last night was orange. I went to pull out some chai tea this afternoon and discovered that it was orange tea instead. I didn’t realize it until I tasted it. Drawing and painting with a new gift — watercolor pencils — I couldn’t resist the beautiful orange pencil. Now I see that the paintbrush to apply water is orange as well.

If any of my readers has a clue on color symbolism, aura analysis, or has chakra chops of some sort, I’d love some perspective. What I’ve read seems positive enough about this color. Having hit some setbacks, random boredom and low traction on some other hobbies, I’m hoping it is leading me to lightness.

The dragonfruit boast

Dragonfruit boasted
A magenta hue
A radish just lacking
A hint of blue

Points like daggers
Bend softly
A wimp of a blade
No surprise

A taste exotic
Its flesh an
Enticing white

What, seeds?
The flesh is specked
Soft to the spoon

Flesh to mouth
No taste
No texture
No smell

A final impression

The Natchaug

natchaug-croppedSmooth, cats-eye colored water
Slips over her head while
Diving for white, tossed stones

Not turquoise, and not gray
Shades of gold and amber
Form centric ripples

Eyes wide open
And the water doesn’t sting
Washed clean, salt free

The river marked her
As its own
And ever clears her darkness


Today I left Thailand
A beautiful country
Monkeys snatch water bottles
Cliffs loom high to climb
Mountains and oceans delight

Mangos ripe and
Motorbike rides to Golden Triangle
Buddhist temples
Songkran water festival and
Snorkeling in southern isles

I know these things
Through my daughter’s being

Thich Nhat Hanh teaches the mystery
Of being one with another
Who can say where one ends
And the other begins?

I felt the saltiness on our skin
And the rocks beneath our feet
Now the pause at the plane’s gate

I cry to leave Thailand
as I sit
halfway around the world.

Processing Anger

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Anger is a pervasive feeling. It hits the young and old alike. The rich and the poor, the educated and the uneducated, the enlightened and the unenlightened share the emotion. Wouldn’t it be smart if we were taught a method of managing and purging our anger at a young age and continued and supported as part of our culture?

I’m thinking a bit about the fire principle we teach young children. We say that if they find their clothing is on fire, they should stop, drop and roll. Isn’t our tendency to run? That only fuels the fire. The process of stopping a fire is almost counter-intuitive.

There was a time that psychologists told patients to punch a pillow in their room to let out their anger. I’m no psychologist, but I’m pretty sure I’ve read that the theory of violent expression (even on a substitute object) no longer is considered good therapy. So what do we do?

There are some things that we, quite honestly, need to intellectualize. What if the best strategic move is to think and consider the situation and to make a plan for best action? Perhaps withdrawing for thoughtful consideration and cooling off is the smartest choice.

When my oldest daughter was seven, I divorced her father. I remember her violently thrashing her arms and legs and screaming with disbelief that all she knew and loved had been changed in an instant. She felt totally out of control. I remember feeling helpless. Over time, I’ve learned to help her manage her anger and confusion about things she can’t control. It has been a learning curve for us both.

I consider myself a reasonably well-balanced person. When attacked unjustly, I would like to come back with words of criticism to settle the score. Many times, a retreat is the smartest choice. Not saying words that bubble up is the smartest choice. Hurtful words let loose can never be retracted. Consider the context of the situation. Consider the good works or good heart of the other person and the credit they have in the bank of mutual respect. Settling a score in the heat of the moment would be counter-productive to all that is good.

The cultural acceptance of rudeness, bullying and angry rhetoric on the political front underscores this angry mentality of getting even. Young children need to be told that it is an unacceptable, not to be imitated means of communication.

To begin to tackle the violence we see in the world today, we need to manage our personal anger, teach our children better ways of coping, create opportunities for people to have valuable work and compensation, support mental health programs, and find ways for people to validate themselves without destroying others in their path.

My friends say “Let’s go!”

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I don’t have anything profound to accomplish. I’m pretty well through making a mark in my career. My daughters are out in the working world. The holidays are over, and the small respite from life’s continuum is over. What’s next?

“My journey” is what echoes in my brain. That was the undone thing this past year. I didn’t get to West Virginia and I really wanted to. I didn’t have a specific place or town in mind. Seeing the mountains from somewhere within that state is a goal.

It’s funny to think that a trip so simple could have been delayed. It’s not as if I need money to go on a two-week trip to Italy or a week’s cruise to the Caribbean. My flannel shirt hangs on my closet door, and my trusty Timberland boots are itching for a walk.

Not so many years ago I would have chosen a very rural backdrop for a travel focus. These days, the security of having people around me is more comforting. Some music, a walk along a river, a little shopping and a nice restaurant over a long weekend would be sweet. It would get me past the sense of having deprived myself of a trip.

What lies past a trip to the mountain state? I have three weeks vacation time. I’m not certain, but I’m sure my wearable companions will remind me in good time.