Life has a way of teaching us to accept or maneuver around obstacles; some of them seemingly insurmountable. That’s where the miracle of flow comes in. With perpetual forward motion—under, over, around, or through—I choose to be a graceful partner in the beautiful, often salsa tempo’d, dance of life.
I wear a pendant that reminds me of my choice to be a vessel through which positivity flows: peace, joy, kindness, encouragement, compassion, acceptance, creativity, and light.
Another type of flow occurs when we are 100% involved in an activity that is challenging enough to engage us, but not so challenging that it’s frustrating. It’s a state in which we are fully in the present moment, and we lose awareness of everything other than our activity; we’re in the moment and things just…flow!
“I am rooted, but I flow.” —Virginia Woolf
What activities have absorbed you so deeply that your mind quiets down and you just flow?
Being married to a pilot, we fly a lot. When I take in-flight photos through the window, the propellor looks motionless. Not because it’s still, but because it’s spinning so fast!
Physics tells us that everything—without exception—is in motion. Even the Buddha statues you see in the photo below.
During my sabbatical I visited the GARDEN OF 1000 BUDDHAS in Arlee, Montana
Stillness is dynamic; it’s un-conflicted movement (no friction). We experience it when there’s unrestricted participation in the moment; when we’re unreservedly present with whatever we’re doing.
Stillness is a natural rhythm in the cycle of life. In the space that stillness creates we have the opportunity to quiet the mind and body; to re-group, re-charge, re-connect, and to find a point of reference; something to measure against.
For me, that point of reference is my inner compass. From here, I can move back into the busy world refreshed.
In Chinese calligraphy, the word mindfulness is expressed by two characters: The top character (a shelter) represents the word now; below that is the character for heart. The literal translation means bringing the heart into the present.
“Acorns are falling—thump, thump, thump—and the chipmunks are packing their cheeks as fast as they can and “squirreling” them away. Their faces are so fat it looks like we’ve got a mumps epidemic on our hands!”
I thought it would be fun to try to capture a photograph of an acorn-laden chipmunk face so I laid down under the oak tree in our front yard—camera at the ready.
Just as I got the feeling that I was being watched, a load of acorns rained down on me. Looking up into the tree, here’s what I saw looking back (click on the photo and it will enlarge):
Look in the dead-center, and slightly to the right
Shortly after that, I received an email notifying me that my friend Jeff Stroud of The Reluctant Blogger, had tagged me in a comment on Facebook. So I toggled over there to view a wonderful 8-minute video clip of Zen Master John Daido Loori, author of Zen Photography. Not quite halfway into the clip he said:
“The moment is where our life takes place. We miss the moment—we miss life.”
Hearing that made me doubly glad that I’d taken the time—the moments—to try to see the world from a chipmunk’s point of view, and was instead rewarded with a raccoon smile.
During a recent visit with my dad in Encinitas, California (Dec 31 – Jan 1) I spent time at the Self-Realization Fellowship and Meditation Garden. This location—founded in 1920 by Paramahansa Yogananda—is always included when I visit.
It’s a wonderful place to recharge one’s personal battery; to just sit and drink in the beauty with all of the senses; to meditate, relax, and renew. It was a welcome part of my journey. I hope you enjoyed the virtual tour.
Kronos, or tick-tock time, is chronological, sequential, and linear in nature; it’s governed by watches, clocks, and calendar pages. We schedule our lives by it—making appointments and keeping deadlines. It tends to be more of a taskmaster than a friend. Many people speak of “never having enough” of it as we race against the clock.
Kronos time is symbolized by an infant that ushers in the New Year and ends the annual calendar as an elderly, bent, and bearded man—Father Time—similar to the god Chronos in Greek mythology.
It’s my perspective that there’s much there’s more—much more—to it than that. I believe that the brow chakra (energy center) is the gatekeeper to a time portal; a place where we can step out of quantitative time as we know it—Kronos, and into qualitative time—kairos.
Kairos, or opportune time, is the word the ancient Greeks used to describe the right time, perfect time, supreme moment, or the “now.” Some might even call it divine time. Kairos intersects and brings transcending value to kronos time. It signifies an undetermined period of time (time in-between) in which something special happens. I was 6 years old the first time I remember dancing with Kairos time, but that’s a story for another day.
One doesn’t catch up with Kairos time; rather one participates in it. In one of my favorite books, A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle, she suggests that kairos time can, and does, enter, penetrate, break through or intersect kronos time: the child at play—consumed in the moment; the painter held captive—mesmerized at an easel; the saint lifted up—removed as it were, in prayer…
In her book, Close to the Bone: Life Threatening Illness and the Search for Meaning, Jean Shinoda Bolen wrote, “When we participate in time and therefore lose our sense of time passing we are in kairos; here we are totally absorbed in the present moment, which may actually stretch out over hours.”
It would be an understatement to say that kairos moments alter the trajectory of our lives. To miscalculate kronos time is inconvenient. To miscalculate kairos time is utterly regrettable.
When was the last time you were so caught up in kairos that kronos was transcended and you were at soul-level?
Pay attention to the small stuff - Lichen on a tree, John Muir Woods, WI
Dust motes, ladybugs, lichen…
In her book Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility, Dr. Ellen Langer had this to say about mindfulness as it pertains to health:
“The simple act of noticing new things—is crucial to our health in several ways. First, when we’re mindless, we ignore all the ways we could exercise control over our health. We turn that control over to the medical world alone and accept limits, which closes us off to the power of possibility.”
In my experience, mindfulness is an agent of transformation and healing.
Mindfulness is simple, but it’s not easy. Mindfulness is the open-hearted energy of being aware—now, right now—in the present moment. It’s the daily cultivation—practice—of touching life deeply. To be mindful is to be present with, and sensitive to, the people we’re with and the things we’re doing, whether it’s raking leaves, washing laundry, brushing our teeth, or peeling potatoes.
At a presentation given by Jon Kabat-Zinn he said:
“Mindfulness points to being aware of, and paying attention to, the moment in which we find ourselves. Our past is gone and our future isn’t here yet. What exists between them is the present moment; the link that holds what was and what will be.”
That brief teaching in mindfulness changed my life.
Mindfulness is our capacity to be fully present in our own life, to be fully aware of what we’re doing as we’re doing it. As we develop our awareness, an inner stillness naturally grows. In this case, stillness doesn’t necessarily mean without motion. Rather, it means to be free from inner tumult; to be tranquil. When we function from a place of tranquility we’re better able to embrace the world and better equipped to respond wisely and lovingly.
It’s my perspective that mindfulness is more than paying attention, it’s paying intention.
Paying attention engages the mind.
Paying intention additionally engages the will.
Intention is beautifully illustrated in a story that my friend “B” shared with me. She said:
“I used to be part of a dinner book club where each month the group members would contribute a dish for dinner and after what was always a wonderful meal, we discussed an agreed upon book.
“One month, Debbie’s food offering was a loaf of Challah bread. As we were eating it and praising her efforts, she told us that as she kneaded the bread, she chanted our names; as she braided the bread, she said intentions for the well-being of each person who would later be partaking of the bread. I remember how honored I was when she told us this.”
When you’re mindful, do you pay attention or intention?
You’ve probably heard of, or seen the movie, “A Room With A View.” But what I passed on my way home yesterday was definitely a view with a room.I was driving along my usual 2-mile route home from HolEssence, minding my own business, when all of a sudden the ivy climbing this beautiful brick building catches my attention.
“Look at me, just look at me, will you?!” it cries. I slow down to take a look. Not just a cursory glace, but a real look.
The view is amazing! Just look at how the windows are barely peeking out from behind the ivy—like knowing eyes peering out from behind long bangs.
There are cars behind me so I continue past, slowly. thinking, Thinking, Thinking. It looks like the perfect writer’s loft. No. It looks like a Hobbit’s abode.
Knowing I’ve got the camera in the car, I make a right-hand turn as soon as I can, and circle back.
What comes to mind as you look at the windows winking out from behind the ivy?
Over the last nine posts, we’ve laid the groundwork for this course—The Color of Wellness and looked at the therapeutic properties of several colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.
We learned that color is energy made visible; that every color has a different and distinct wavelength; and that we can be influenced by it. By incorporating a few easy-to-implement suggestions on how to weave color into the tapestry of our lives we’ve learned to enhance our sense of groundedness with red, increase our sense of delight with orange, cultivate our inner-landscape with yellow, develop our emotional empowerment with green, unleash our creative flair with blue, boost our insight with indigo, and strengthen the connection with our higher self with violet.
The photos in the slideshow are from our kitchen. As you can see, we enjoy a lot of color. We don’t set the table with every person receiving matching plates and dishes. Rather, we mix them up in bold fashion and have a lot of fun doing it! Our napkins are wild and crazy—no two are alike.
Every wall in our home is soft yellow (like the inside of a banana) with the exception of a very large sage green wall in the living room. We have liberal accents of chili pepper red throughout the house, with bold splashes of emerald green and cobalt blue here and there.
A few months ago one of my Gaia friends, a regular reader of this blog, asked me a question. My answer was to sit down and write a color meditation for her. With a little extra polish since that time, this is the result:
For this meditation, you may want to light a candle, dim the lights, and play music softly in the background. Each exhalation is designed to offload emotional baggage and to create space for unleashed, unlimited, potential and possibility— for joy!
Sit with your feet flat on the floor, back upright and supported against a chair, hands resting comfortably on your thighs, eyes gently closed. Take a few deep, letting go breaths, directing attention to your body’s still point where in-breath becomes out-breath. In your mind’s eye, picture roots growing from the soles of your feet down through the floor, deep into the earth, grounding and centering you like an ancient, wise tree.
Bring your attention to your base chakra—the tip of your tailbone, your foundation, where self-preservation, survival, and physical wellness reside. In your mind’s eye, inhale the color red—slow, deep, and steady—through your nostrils, drawing the breath past your chest and all the way down into your belly.
Now exhale the “waste”—any toxic thoughts, emotional baggage—through your mouth. Using the power of intent say: “The energy of Divine Love fills my self-preservation. I invite the healing energy of Divine Love to flow.”
Shift your attention to your sacral chakra—the area just below your belly button, where self-gratification, pleasure, and occupational wellness reside. In your mind’s eye, inhale the color orange—slow, deep, and steady—through your nostrils, drawing the breath past your chest and all the way down into your belly.
Now exhale the “waste”—any toxic thoughts, emotional baggage—through your mouth. Using the power of intent say: “The energy of Divine Love fills my self-gratification. I make choices that are for my highest good.”
Direct your attention to your solar plexus chakra, the area just below the point on your chest where your rib cage meets, where self-definition, personal power, and social wellness reside. In your mind’s eye, inhale the color yellow—slow, deep, and steady—through your nostrils, drawing the breath past your chest and all the way down into your belly.
Now exhale the “waste”—any toxic thoughts, emotional baggage—through your mouth. Using the power of intent say: “The energy of Divine Love fills my self-definition. I choose to fill my world with joy.”
Bring your attention to your heart chakra at the center of your chest, where self-acceptance, love, and emotional wellness reside. In your mind’s eye, inhale the color green—slow, deep, and steady—through your nostrils, drawing the breath past your chest and all the way down into your belly.
Now exhale the “waste”—any toxic thoughts, emotional baggage—through your mouth. Using the power of intent say: “The energy of Divine Love fills my self-acceptance. I lovingly forgive and release the past.”
Move your attention to your throat chakra, the divot in your throat, where self-expression, creativity, and emotional wellness reside. In your mind’s eye, inhale the color blue—slow, deep, and steady—through your nostrils, drawing the breath past your chest and all the way down into your belly.
Now exhale the “waste”—any toxic thoughts, emotional baggage—through your mouth. Using the power of intent say: “The energy of Divine Love fills my self-expression. I speak my truth with ease and grace.”
Direct your attention to your brow chakra, the point between and slightly above your eyebrows, where self-reflection, intuition, and intellectual wellness reside. In your mind’s eye, inhale the color indigo—slow, deep, and steady—through your nostrils, drawing the breath past your chest and all the way down into your belly.
Now exhale the “waste”—any toxic thoughts, emotional baggage—through your mouth. Using the power of intent say: “The energy of Divine Love fills my self-reflection. It see all things with insight and inspiration.”
Bring your attention to your crown chakra, the top of your head, where self-knowledge, divine connection, and spiritual wellness reside. In your mind’s eye, inhale the color violet—slow, deep, and steady—through your nostrils, drawing the breath past your chest and all the way down into your belly.
Now exhale the “waste”—any toxic thoughts, emotional baggage—through your mouth. Using the power of intent say: “The energy of Divine Love fills my self-knowledge. “I am divinely inspired to live as I am meant to be. Thank you. And so it is.”
Below you will see a chakra necklace that I designed in April. I call it The Seven Selves as it goes hand-in-glove with my manuscript. The green stone (heart chakra) is perched neatly in the middle with three stones sitting in attendance on either side. You can’t see them all in this photo as they wrap around my neck, but from left to right as you look at the photo:
The red garnet reminds me to live courageously.
The orange amber reminds me of the importance of personal respect.
The yellow citrine reminds me to walk in dignity.
The green aventurine reminds me to drink from the well of calm and joy.
The blue lace agate reminds me to speak my truth.
The indigo lapis lazuli reminds me dive into endless possibilities.
The purple amethyst reminds me to live in the present moment.
The Seven Selves necklace by Laurie Buchanan
I hope you had as much fun receiving this “class” as I did delivering it. We’ll take a break from “coursework” through the rest of October and then jump into “Alphabetically Speaking” in the month of November. You may remember back in June (the day after my hard drive crashed) I took a reader survey and received lots of great topics that you’re interested in learning more about. I’m looking forward to delivering that “course.” In the meantime, I’ll post a bit of this and a dash of that …
That’s precisely what I look like day 3 after The Incident. My face actually scared squirrels on our bike ride this morning!
Day 3 – Bar Room Brawl Look
Thankfully, it doesn’t hurt as bad as it looks.
Needless to say, I’m incognito …
Speaking of incognito . . .
In Washington, DC, at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, this man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After about 3 minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule.
About 4 minutes later:
The violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.
At 6 minutes:
A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.
At 10 minutes:
A 3-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time. This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent – without exception – forced their children to move on quickly.
At 45 minutes:
The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.
After 1 hour:
He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed and no one applauded. There was no recognition at all. No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell sold-out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100 each to sit and listen to him play the same music.
This is a true story. Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the D.C. Metro Station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste, and people’s priorities. This experiment raised several questions:
In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? If so, do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?
One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be that if we don’t have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made . . .
… how many other things are we missing as we rush through life?