Trust

Breath

I can’t seem to get over this fixation on my breath lately.  I’m not too sure that’s a bad thing, actually.  We work a lot with bringing the breath into an even rhythm here: inhaling to the count of three of four and exhaling to that same count.  Breathing this way connects me to the rhythm of day and night, the rhythm of the seasons, the incoming and outgoing tides, and the rhythm of the cosmos.  I’d previously used an extended exhaling breathing technique and it took me a while to get used to this even rhythm.  This past week or so I’ve been understanding just why I felt so akin to the extended exhale as a practice.  I’ve been working with neediness this month; where it came from as a pattern in my life and the various ways in which it’s manifested.  I relate my approach to my neediness to the way I’m used to breathing.  I notice that I’ve taken in breath in a unconscious, unfulfilling way.  The exhale has then been long, drawn out and constricted, as if to absorb the very last bit of oxygen possible, every bit that I didn’t get in the quick and harried inhale.  In my life it seems I’ve been oblivious to many examples in which I have been provided for in lasting and real ways.  I’ve been oblivious to the intake.  I then hold on to the very last bit, the very last bit of a visit before saying goodbye, the last bit of toothpaste in the tube and, honey in the jar unwilling to quite let go and be content that it’s over, that I’m not receiving anymore.  But Guenevere, there’s another breath on its way, another jar of honey that a visiting friend just happens to gift me with the day after I lavishly finish one on a batch of kombucha.  I’m learning to trust.  Really that’s what it’s about: can I trust that my needs will be provided for not only in this moment but in the next moment also?  I breathe in with conscious awareness and then exhale allowing the muscles supporting my diaphragm to relax completely.  There is no need to linger on this exhale.  There is another inhale on its way that will provide exactly what I need: space and openness.

Fruit

I’ve been watching the small green cherry buds form into something more recognizable as fruit than how they began.  They are attached to this giant tree, thousands and thousands of times their size, by a tiny green stem.  This stem has a sort of rim around it where it connects to the bough on which it resides.  This rim makes me think it isn’t really connected at all, like a clay bottom of a rounded object that’s been melded together where it’s obvious they weren’t always joined but skillful hands have moulded water and clay to make it so.  Can a connection as tenuous as this really provide enough nourishment?  My memory tells me that when these cherries are ripe this connection the stem shares with its twig will gently release.  How can that simple line supply all that is needed to turn small green pods into succulent cherries?  There is a magnificent power that does such things.  I do not quite understand it all.

I know that I, too, am like that cherry.  I’m connected to this unseen tree that nourishes simply every part of me.  What is the line?  What is the stem?  In satsang after the quiet stillness of mantra we were invited to call out a word or phrase that brought us here.  What was that silent pull?  I couldn’t name it other than is being an ever-present tugging, its subtlety not quite allowing words to pin it down to any particular quality or externalized expression.  Perhaps the closest is a sort of magnetism or being drawn like gravity to the surface of the earth.  A silent cord connecting me to a Higher force and providing all that is needed.  Will I be ripe one day?  Will I be ready to be gently plucked from my vine?  What would that even look like?  The longer I stay here the more I find out about myself and my patterns.  I’m delving deeper and deeper into motivations for actions that I no longer want to be held by.  It’s both freeing and terrifying and shows me that the layers never stop.  It is, after all, impossible to get to the centre of anything.  There will always be a smaller element that too has a centre within that centre.  Infinity is quite alluring in that way.

I watch the cherries grow.  I anticipate their sweetness on my tongue.  I marvel at the way in which they are provided everything they need through a thin and fragile stem.  I do this as I breathe, savouring each inhale in order to really acknowledge just exactly what I too am provided and revelling as I can relax and exhale, dispelling that which I no longer need.

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Familiar

After class one Tuesday night I grab some tea from the main house’s dining room and head to my room.  I know where I can steep this tea.  There’s still light out, it’s only 8:30, I’ll still be able to make my way around the summer kitchen.  Living off the front room of the summer kitchen not only am I blessed with an amazing view but I also am extremely close to the area that I knew so well my first summer here.  Managing the summer kitchen in 2010 was a great experience.  I remember one day late in August making rose hip jelly.  Swami Jyotihananda had said it was her favourite and me, unaware of the fact that one is supposed to wait until after the first frost to collect and process rosehips, wanted to make her some.  The colours were absolutely stunning.  I had this sieve full of rose hips that I was washing and chopping, working into becoming jelly with some green apples from the orchard for pectin.  That day I ignored the fact that, as a commercial kitchen, using unreliable and immeasurable pectin like that of unripe apple skin was not very appropriate and simply made some jelly.  It was one of my last days before heading back to Alberta for a few months.  If I remember correctly the jelly was way too hard but it was a lovely day nonetheless.  As were all days in the summer kitchen.

I’ve spent many hours in that summer kitchen, making up songs as I jammed with friends – made jam that is -strawberry, raspberry, and, a favourite, Saskatoon lemon.  I’ve broken a few jars of cherries, dipping them into boiling water and cracking under the sharp contrasting temperature change no matter what my efforts to prevent it.  I’ve spent a lot of time there.  And somehow, even though it was now years ago that I was in there every day, I still have this sense of familiarity.  I know that I can grab some tea from the jar in the dining room, walk over to my room for my teapot, and put water on the boil.  I know where the dishes belong or, at least, where I would want them to belong if it was my kitchen – where it would make the most sense to me to have them.  And I know that I need to clean up every scrap so the critters don’t get too adventuresome. 

This sense of familiarity is a blessing.  I call upon it to navigate through my days when I come up against things that I don’t feel the same sense of ease.  In hatha this morning I lifted up my spine in a new way.  This way had to do with expanding the ribcage and opening the heart in a supported manner.  While there was strength there physically and in my muscular and skeletal system, it didn’t feel like strength emotionally.  Some sort of stretching that felt as if it were pulling at my heart, not wanting to be exposed to the open air, to light and breath was being opened.  I’ve been relying on my breath in a new way lately, acknowledging it as this close friend that is with me always.  It can remain steady and strong in the most difficult of situations, like a hatha class where I am feeling tension and constriction.  I continue to breathe into it, encouraging it out so that I can get to know it and it too can become a friend.