Tag Archives: breath

Cultivating Gratitude

 

"Gratitude is an inner connection with us, God and the entire universe."-Amma, Mata Amritanandamayi

This summer, I attended some retreats with my spiritual teacher, Amma, or Mata Amritanandamayi. One of the topics she talked about was about cultivating gratitude. She said that “Gratitude is a decision just like happiness. . . Gratitude is an inner connection between God, the entire creation and us.”  She reminded us that everything we are receiving is due to the work of countless people living now and in the past, Mother Nature, and unseen forces. We are indebted to the world. Nature is our mother.

Other notes I wrote down:

Life is a blessing. Gratitude is a prayer that opens and enlarges our hearts to receive more. Appreciate life with each breath we take. Accept all situations with discernment. It is man’s nature to notice what we don’t have, instead of seeing all the good around us. Replace “mine” with “O God, everything is yours.” Help others without expecting anything in return. Remember that the next breath may not be ours. Remember God constantly. Our real success in life lies in unity.

Some time ago, I used the header image to make a greeting card. The positioning of the clouds, opening up in freedom, reminded me of Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings about embracing our feelings. So I wrote these words:

inner skies widen
as each breath is observed
as each feeling is embraced
with arms of compassion

 




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Three Generations

Inspired by this family of flowers, the youthfulness, freshness of a bud behind the aging flower who is modeling “being complete”, putting everything in order, tying up loose ends, preparing to die at any moment. And then the glory of the flower at its peak, living each moment well therefore preparing for its death and future generations.

 

“Put everything in order
as day begins to fade.
All things are passing,
moment by moment,
breath by breath.
All things are passing,
moment by moment,
birth to death.
Take off that cloak of fear,
the divine strength you see is here,
and you know you are dying to live.
So put everything in order
as day begins to fade.”

by Sr. Macrina Wiederkehr,“sevensacredpauses, Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day”, published by Sorin Books, p. 124-125




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Snails

One weekend, when I was attending a drumming circle at a park near the bay, I discovered many snails. Usually, I just find them in my yard, after a rain, or when I had a vegetable garden, eating the leaves and flowers of what I was trying to grow.

I found not just one, but many, all climbing up the stalk of a certain weed. Since I saw saw many (not my usual sightings), I wondered if that was a message for me. Before I looked up what might be the symbolism of the snail, these were my thoughts:

  1. It carries its home with it every moment, just like a turtle. With a single breath, one can come back to the present moment, and one’s center.
  2. The snail’s pace is to move slowly. Don’t hurry, be patient.
  3. Its spiral shape suggests a time for re-grouping, re-assessing, evaluating what to let go of.

I found a few other insights from www.whats-your-sign.com

In that website, Avia mentioned that snails have both male and female reproductive organs. So, to me, that means developing positive stereotypical male qualities, like confidence, concentration, etc. Well, it is good for everyone to have a balance of both male/female positivities.

Avia’s friend, Mederi, said that snails have 2 kinds of slime for moving about, one for moving, and the other is for protection. She goes on to say:

“Symbolically, this begs the question, “What facilitates our mobility?” Most of us might not want to be covered in a literal slime to get us moving in the right direction. But, metaphorically, we can focus on things that motivate us to move. We might call it “motivational” or “inspirational” slime…What lubricates your ability to get up and do something? Do as the snail does…get slickered up and move forward in a positive direction.

The second kind of snail slime is protective. They excrete a specialized goo that keeps their tender bodies insulated from harm. This slime helps snails avoid injury while they’re on the move. The slime also has healing qualities too, so if they do get a boo-boo, their slime gets them on the mend in double time. Symbolically, this links snail meaning with healing. Perhaps you’re going through a challenging time with your health. I’d like to encourage you to envision yourself covered in a protective, nurturing, healing slime.”

Or do the things you know will be healing for you…




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Four Elements

 

Breathing in, I see the sky in this flower
Breathing out, I feel spaciousness within me. I am thankful for this breath.
Breathing in, I see the sun’s rays reflected in this flower
Breathing out, I know the sun is in my heart, pumping blood, guiding my way.
Breathing in, I see a cloud in this flower
Breathing out, I know water is coursing through my veins.
Breathing in, I know that the flower’s roots transport minerals to the iris, helping it to stand up tall
Breathing out, I feel my feet connected to Mother Earth who nourishes me.




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Let This Darkness Be a Bell Tower

 

“Quiet friend who has come so far,
feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,

what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.

In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.

And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.”

–Rainer Maria Rilke, “Sonnets to Orpheus”

 




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The Breath

One refuge, anchor, can be our breath. It is with us no matter where we are, no matter what our emotional state is. The Spirit of God is in our breath. It is a gift. Our breath is a sign that God is with us. Thich Nhat Hanh suggests watching the breath from a point 2 fingerwidths below the navel, and even putting our hands at that point to make it easier to focus. Just watch the breath without trying to control it. Feel your hands moving outwards as you breathe in and back in again with each out breath. After some time, you will feel calmer as your breath naturally slows down. You will be more calm than when you were overcome with upsetting feelings and emotions.

Thich Nhat Hanh also suggests you can invite the Jesus in you to breathe for you. Then you can watch Jesus breathing in you, you can bring awareness to God’s presence in you. After witnessing the breath for some time, it will automatically slow down, and the mind will be calmer.




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Reflection Word: Sabbath

 

new leaf

could be a day out in Nature to refresh and renew, enjoying the great cathedral of the outdoors

could be as short as one refreshing breath

could be time in church, meditation, prayer

could be a walk with no destination in mind,  just savoring each breath, tree and flower, taking the time

I found some new leaves nestled in a pink “nest” to savor

Continue reading Reflection Word: Sabbath




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True Colors

digital painting

One year, when I was learning to use a photo editing program, Adobe Photoshop, my teacher wanted us to jump right in and use the digital paintbrush. Very intimidated by the thought of painting, my teacher suggested something to ease the process, to turn on some music, and paint what the music suggested. I listened to “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper.

As I listened, the image evolved (above) and  these words popped into my head:

 

Om

Breathing in, I know that Spirit fills me…
I remember a Divine Spark is dwelling within
Always there, always available
A deep well which refreshes
Focusing on the breath of Life
I start to relax in peace
Light spreads
Dissolving fears anxiety
Joy dances upwards
Stars sparkle…

 




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