Monday, March 31, 2008

no gain in haste...

A couple of weeks ago I was scheduled to present a seminar in Arlington, Virginia, to a location new to me. I had set my alarm the night before for 6 a.m. to ensure my waking early enough to allow for this unfamiliar commute.

At two minutes before 7 I awakened and quickly realized the time, finding I had just lost the hour of insurance I had planned for arriving at class early, or at least on time.

I did not panic at this sudden interruption in my plans. I did not stress. Instead, I breathed deeply. I breathed deeply and simply stayed with what I was doing. When I ate my breakfast, I simply ate my breakfast, and didn't try to eat while also trying to "get there on time." I enjoyed my food. When I brushed my teeth, I simply brushed my teeth, and didn't try to brush my teeth while at the same time trying to "get there." I stayed fully with what I was doing. I realized that I would get to class when I get to class and everything is okay (mind you, I didn't waste any of the time I had...I was brisk about my business...but I did not fret). I took one step at a time and fully accepted that everything is okay, even if I should arrive late for class.

My trip had a few starts and stops in finding parking, changing trains twice, walking several blocks, and such. I moved purposively and briskly but I had little expectation of making it to class on time. I have never been late to my own seminar before but I accepted this state of affairs deeply and peacefully.

I wish I could write of this experience as profoundly as I seemed to experience it. I stayed "in the moment" in every moment, and in the end I arrived at my classroom ten minutes before time to begin. I held peace in every moment even when I was sure I would be late. I later found it interesting that I did not say to myself "everything is okay and I will get there on time" but rather I felt "everything is okay even though I am going to be late." I felt complete acceptance. It's kind of hard to explain, but the acceptace was from the inside out, not from the outside in.

I think it would hold true for any situation that our peace is in fully accepting the worst of what can happen. Acceptance of (no resistance to) whatever is happening and whatever may come, and mindfulness in the present moment, seem to provide my greatest peace. As I continue this path my world continues to become open and abundant.

Later that same week I discovered two lines in a prayer by Swami Premananda that read like this:

There is no loss of time in waiting
Nor is there any gain in haste

My gosh, I love these lines. If I am stuck in traffic, caught in a long line at the supermarket, or obligated to a delay in any situation, there is no loss of time in waiting and my peace comes in acceptance. And, of course, there is no gain in haste. Herein I find harmony between myself and the situation around me.

(Oh, and the reason my alarm failed me was that I had set my alarm to the one clock in the house that had not adjusted to the transition to Daylight Savings Time....)

photography by permission

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

moments of peace

Some have asked me how do I bring quiet, stillness, calm into my world. How does one find sanctuary in a noisy, demanding life?

Sometimes peace comes in a moment, in the quiet flutter of a bird taking flight just as I step out of my home and walk toward my car, and I pause for a moment and watch. I smile; I sigh; I breathe deeply and continue on my way. Sometimes stillness comes in the glimpse of a full moon on a cold, starless the smell of a soft the pure tone of a solitary chime. If we are attentive to these single moments, more moments come to us and life turns toward peace.

Today I found such a moment in a bath. I could have said there was no time for a bath, that a quick shower was far more sensible, but setting aside time for peace is part of our work. The waters were hot and as I stepped into them I was filled with the scent of the oils poured into them, lavender oils. A profound fragrance is a moment of peace, don't you think? I settled into the waters and I was in sanctuary. A single candle burned nearby, and the sound of an Indian flute along with the sound of piano and birds softly surrounded me. My head rested on a thick rolled towel and I did nothing but breathe. The world around me was peaceful and I became quieted on the inside. I meditated. I drifted between this world and that one. The time came to get out of the tub, put on my clothes, and go back to class, and though I had to leave my sanctuary, I carried my peace with me.

This day I wish for you more ways to touch peace in your own life.
art by permission