Tuesday, January 26, 2010

what went well for you today?

Several weeks ago a friend of mine became ill, and during her diagnosis her doctor explained that her illness was caused by stress. This smart, savvy friend of mine set about to do everything she could to diminish stress in her life (she wanted to do whatever was held within her power), and one step she took was so beautiful that it would be wise for all of us to take it up as a practice.

My friend noticed that at the end of any given day she, and everyone around her, would ask the question, "How was your day?" She noticed that typically answers went in the direction of "Traffic was a bear today..." or "My boss was on my case again today..." She decided to change the direction of conversations by changing the question, and instead of asking "How was your day today?" she began to ask "What went well for you today?" This became a daily practice for her and her loved ones. The direction of conversations changed, the perspective on life changed, energy changed, and peace was enlarged.

And so I ask you...what went well for you today?

photography by permission
cindy lee jones

Friday, January 22, 2010

500 poems and still counting...

We now have more than 500 poems related to meditation, mindfulness, stillness, silence, and solitude. What an amazing gift, to be able to touch what you taste when you drink from the waters of meditation and mindfulness. Thank you for so much beauty.

We continue to receive entries for our contest through the end of this month.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Many of us live all our lives in thrall to the traditions in which we are born. Others question their tribal inheritance and embark upon a lifetime of exploration. The former end up believing they know everything. The latter end as they began, in ignorance -- but now a willingly-professed ignorance that is sublime in its tentatively-held and ever-expanding wealth of knowledge. ~ Chet Raymo

photography by permission
madalina diacanu

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

350 poems

I turn down the lights...burn an incense...light a candle...and begin reading the day's poems. I read slowly, and aloud. Sometimes I cry because, well, good poetry makes me cry. I am deeply touched by the outpouring of the Universe in the form of poetry for our first Spirit First poetry contest. I have received 350 poems, and more arrive every day.

So far I have heard from poets in 39 states and 17 foreign countries, from poets in their teens, poets nearly ninety, and poets of every age in between. I've received poems from men and from women, from city people and country people, from Christians and Muslims and Buddhists and those who make no mention of anything organized. I've received poems from writers who are much accomplished and writers who are undiscovered. And every poem is read quietly, slowly, and aloud, each word spoken into the world where it becomes part of the air we breathe and mingles with the light that guides us.

For this year's competition, Spirit First continues to receive poems for two more weeks.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Saint Anthony on prayer

The prayer of the monk is not perfect until he no longer recognizes himself or the fact that he is praying.
Saint Anthony

Friday, January 08, 2010

believe in nothing

"I discovered that it is necessary, absolutely necessary, to believe in nothing. That is, we have to believe in something that has no form and no color--something that exists before all forms and colors appear . . . No matter what god or doctrine you believe in, if you become attached to it, your belief will be based more or less on a self-centered idea. You strive for a perfect faith in order to save yourself. But it will take time to attain such a perfect faith. You will be involved in an idealistic practice. In constantly seeking to actualize your ideal, you will have no time for composure. But if you are always prepared for accepting everything we see as something appearing from nothing, knowing that there is some reason why a phenomenal existence of such and such form and color appear, then at that moment you will have perfect composure."

From The Ambivalent Zen

Monday, January 04, 2010

choose silence, and love is apparent

A message from Gangaji:

"Choose silence, and love is apparent.

When we choose silence, we choose to give up the reasons not to love, which are the reasons for going to war, or continuing war, or separating, or being a victim, or being right. In a moment of silence, in a moment of no thought, no mind, we choose to give those up. This is what my teacher invited me to.

Just choose silence. Don’t even choose love. Choose silence, and love is apparent. If we choose love we already have an idea of what love is.

But if you choose silence, that is the end of ideas. You are willing to have no idea, to see what is present when there is no idea, past, present, future. No idea of love, no idea of truth, no idea of you, no idea of me. Love is apparent." Gangaji

Sunday, January 03, 2010

poetry contest

I receive poems every day, sometimes 2 or 3 and sometimes 10 or 12 or 20. We have received well over 200 entries so far in our first annual Spirit First poetry contest, and more entries arrive every day. We have poems from cities all across the United States and from Canada, France, Germany, England, Ireland, Scotland, Romania, India, Chile, Phillipines, South Africa, Malta, Nigeria, Pakistan, Japan, Australia . . .

Every poem is a gift, and each one is read slowly and aloud.

All of us at Spirit First are grateful to each of you who has become part of this effort, and each of you who will become part of it. We look forward to sharing some of these poems with you in the coming weeks.