M & E

I hardly feel like writing

I barely bother to read

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Wanting to be fed
by the feed

Knowingly wading through
the mire that
saps my soul

Overriding self-imposed time limits
In a tacit agreement
to self-destruct
so that
in arriving at that nihilistic state of

I Hate Everything

I am humbled into remembering
that

Meditation and Exercise
are my true salvation.

The day is calling me.

Put down the phone.


‘Click’.

(C) 2021

Because I am a miracle

That I am alive
Is a miracle

That I am able to breathe
Deeply into my belly
Is a blessing

For such a blessing
I feel deepest gratitude


When I was a star
I couldn’t hear the birds
Singing in the morning

When I was a star
I couldn’t taste the ocean
Salting my skin

When I was a star
I couldn’t feel the warm breeze
Bringing my face messages of hope

When I was a star
I couldn’t inhale the mint or the rose
In all their ostentatious fragrant glory

When I was a star I couldn’t even see
the magic of the afternoon light
golden, slinky, as it casts itself
so flatteringly
over all the miracles
that surround us

Here I now am
in this exquisite form

a feeling, sensing, breathing
miracle of life
with the sublime ability
to derive deep pleasure
from my physical functions
eating, moving, shitting, sleeping, drinking water, laughing, breathing...

Why would I look for anything more?

When I was a star
I saw this life and chose it

Now I am here
Experiencing

Morning birdsong filling my spirit

Gently dancing trees soothing my soul

Totally nourished by the very act of recognising the beauty of our natural world,
of which I am a worthy element,
and basking
in gratitude
for this
divine
moment

Copyright Zoe Xanadu 2021

Tea and sunrise

Magpies stomping on the roof

Rustling sounds in the garden

different
to the nocturnal rustlings

bolder



shadows of the morning walkers

diligent silhouettes
passing by my window

the dusty film makes it all seem
so romantic

lace hanging haphazardly

like a renaissance era opera dancer

backstage
in a state of delicious dishevelment
limbs everywhere



Dogs pull their humans
eager to know what news this day brings
so easily sated
by the daily miracle
of the sun remembering to rise



What further delight
would any sane person
seek to seek?



Stay here in this

the gold of highest value

hear the praises
sung by those with wings

whose freedom of flight
allows the broadest view from above

who still choose
to come home to roost

They will always remind me

that to be near a tree
is all I need

To breathe the freshness
of the new day

in through my newest leaves
down to my deepest roots

And to feel my expansion

My belonging

My arrival home

In every direction

as I exhale



Dwelling in the ultimate dimension



Grateful for this breath

Copyright 2021

The joy of poo blur

The household toddler has had a visit from gastro this week. That meant being woken every two hours for two nights in a row by a fevering child, living in a blur of repetition of toilet checking, bottom wiping, hand washing, administering water and offering dry foods, and surrendering to dropping all plans. It has meant losing wages whilst still paying for unused daycare, and having the tv on way more than usual.


On the back of all this, yesterday I sat 2 adult naplan exams, complete with overcoming the stress of the power point not charging my lap top, my mouse stopping working, and the remote proctor not being able to access my camera, resulting in a 45 minute delay to my exam start time. Somehow managed to get a delicious evening meal on the table, and little one is on the mend today.


Yet the biggest challenge for me was helping her to put on the tiny gardening gloves that she was insisting on wearing for our walk this morning.
She also brought a cushion “in case I fall over”.
So of course one block into our walk, I’m carrying a pair of gloves rolled up, a cushion, a hand full of lillipillis, a few flowers, a bagged dog poo, and the lead of our 40kg old man. All in one hand to keep the other hand free to hold hands with little to cross the road.


A young woman jogging freely in the other direction with both hands free and ponytail swinging, smiled at us.
I thought, maybe she looks at us and wishes she could have this moment.

I am having this moment. This is what life has given me right now. What a joy.

Body and the landscape…

  The Old Mendicant

Being rock, being gas, being Mind,
being the mesons traveling among the galaxies
at the speed of light,
you have come here, my beloved.
And your blue eyes shine, so beautiful, so deep.
You have taken the path traced for you
from the non-beginning and the never-ending.
You say that on your way here
you have gone through many millions of births and deaths.
Innumerable times you have been transformed
into fire storms in outer space.
You have used your own body
to measure the age of the mountains and rivers.
You have manifested yourself
as trees, grass, butterflies, single celled beings,
and as chrysanthemums.
But the eyes with which you look at me this morning
tell me that you have never died.
Your smile invites me into the game whose beginning no one knows,
the game of hide-and-seek.

O green caterpillar, you are solemnly using your body 
to measure the length of the rose branch that grew 
last Summer.
Everyone says that you, my beloved, were just born 
this Spring.
Tell me, how long have you been around?
Why wait until this moment to reveal yourself to me,
carrying with you that smile which is so silent and
so deep?
O caterpillar, suns, moons, and stars flow out
each time I exhale.
Who knows that the infinitely large must be felt in your
tiny body?
Upon each point on your body,
thousands of Buddha fields have been established.
With each stretch of your body, you measure time
from the non-beginning to the never-ending.
The great mendicant of old is still there on Vulture Peak,
contemplating the ever-splendid sunset.

Guatama, how strange!
Who said that the Udumbra flower blooms
only once every 3,000 years?

The sound of the rising tide - you cannot help hearing it
if you have an attentive ear.


Thich Nhat Hanh
(In Love Letter to the Earth, Parallax Press, 2013).

~~~~~
Breathing in I contemplate this poem and all it contains

Breathing out I am grateful for our dear Teacher
~~~~~

“Suns, moons, and stars flow out each time I exhale”!!! 

“Carrying with you that smile which is so silent and so deep”

“Innumerable times you have been transformedinto fire storms in outer space.”

As I enjoy this wonderful poem, I am humbled by the power of language as a tool to support the making of meaning, and our understanding of it.


This week in my life, I have had the great fortune to be part of an immersive dance-theatre practice-strengthening retreat on the theme ‘body and the landscape’.

Within this, we have practised mindful walking; enjoyed wonderful poetry and the discussion of philosophical concepts around our body and the land, and the ‘I’ in art-making and the role of staying open to the present moment in allowing art to happen through us. 

We have given great attention to the depth possible of really truly acknowledging country, feeling into the reverence for the land we are on and embodying respect for all the ancestors and knowledge-holders who have come before us, and the caretakers emerging and yet to come.


In this, I have been nourished by the knowledge that nobody here has been able to take this week out of our lives because we happened to have a whole week free, just sitting there, available, empty. 

Each of us has worked in countless ways to make this appointment with our creative, spiritual selves, and each other, to honour the human necessity to bask in contemplation, exploration, play.  


The theme of ‘body and the landscape’ ties in so beautifully with Thay’s teachings in Love Letter to The Earth that I have been studying recently, I am touched by the overlap between my spiritual and creative practices, and am feeling humbly excited by the synthesis that is being allowed time and space to become illuminated and articulated.


In this, all of the other busy things that usually fill my hours, the things that invite me, sometimes insistently, to forget about the peace of choosing not to hurry, have receded.  And I find myself wondering how different our world could be if all of us had more time to remember that “in the ultimate I dwell”.  


Could Thay have written this deeply rich poem within this wonderfully practical and clear book (one of so many!), had he not chosen monastic life?


As we are called by our planet to firmly shift our relationship to the mindless consumption that props up over-production of disposable, low quality, planet-harming objects that have been produced under the energies of distress and exploitation, can we all possibly be moving ever so slightly towards a more mindful existence?


Can less time in shops and more time in nature bring us closer to having more space to be open to the eloquence available to us that our dear Teacher demonstrates with such gracious poise? 
I invite you to take the space to enjoy this poem again:

 

Being rock, being gas, being Mind,
being the mesons traveling among the galaxies
at the speed of light,
you have come here, my beloved.
And your blue eyes shine, so beautiful, so deep.
You have taken the path traced for you
from the non-beginning and the never-ending.
You say that on your way here
you have gone through many millions of births and deaths.
Innumerable times you have been transformed
into fire storms in outer space.
You have used your own body
to measure the age of the mountains and rivers.
You have manifested yourself
as trees, grass, butterflies, single celled beings,
and as chrysanthemums.
But the eyes with which you look at me this morning
tell me that you have never died.
Your smile invites me into the game whose beginning no one knows,
the game of hide-and-seek.

O green caterpillar, you are solemnly using your body 
to measure the length of the rose branch that grew 
last Summer.
Everyone says that you, my beloved, were just born 
this Spring.
Tell me, how long have you been around?
Why wait until this moment to reveal yourself to me,
carrying with you that smile which is so silent and
so deep?
O caterpillar, suns, moons, and stars flow out
each time I exhale.
Who knows that the infinitely large must be felt in your
tiny body?
Upon each point on your body,
thousands of Buddha fields have been established.
With each stretch of your body, you measure time
from the non-beginning to the never-ending.
The great mendicant of old is still there on Vulture Peak,
contemplating the ever-splendid sunset.

Guatama, how strange!
Who said that the Udumbra flower blooms
only once every 3,000 years?

The sound of the rising tide - you cannot help hearing it
if you have an attentive ear.


Citizens of the Earth

I would like to offer more from Love Letter to the Earth (2018, Parallax Press) this week.
 Citizens of the Earth

We tend to think of human beings as falling into two groups:  those who are similar to us, and those who are different.  We allow political boundaries to obscure our interconnectedness.  What we often refer to as patriotism is actually a barrier that prevents us from seeing that we’re all children of the same mother.  Every calls its nation a motherland or a fatherland.  Every country tries to show how it loves its mother.  But in doing so, each country is contributing to the destruction of our larger mother, our collective mother, the Earth.  In focusing on our human-made boundaries, we forget that we are co-responsible for the whole planet.
When we see that we are all children of the same mother, we will naturally want to cultivate and strengthen our sense of being part of one large family.  When we speak of protecting our planet, we often speak of finding new technologies.  But without real community, technology may be even more destructive than constructive.  Real community, built with our practice of mindfulness, enables us to act together.  When we can communicate with ourselves and the Earth, we can communicate with ourselves more easily.”
A pause for breath here, and contemplation on how we strengthen our own practice of communicating with ourselves and the Earth, and how valuable it is to water the seeds of this practice as often as we can.
A moment too, to make acknowledgement in the season of NAIDOC celebrations here in Australia, of the wisdom in Aboriginal culture of deep respect for the Earth that was practised throughout this land for many thousands of years.  
Thay continues:  “Every one of us, regardless of nationality or religious faith, can experience a feeling of admiration and love when we see the beauty of the Earth and the beauty of the cosmos.  This feeling of love and admiration has the power to unite the citizens of the Earth and remove all separation and discrimination.  Caring about the environment is not an obligation, but a matter of personal and collective happiness and survival.  We will survive and thrive together with our Mother Earth, or we will not survive at all.”  (pp 81-83).
I find it so helpful, in diluting the despair that is surrounding our collective thinking about the climate crisis, to touch deeply the word of Thay here, about how our courage and strength in staying with the practice of feeling love and admiration for the beauty of the Earth and cosmos can contribute to our survival and thriving.  
Staying in gratitude, when we notice the wonders of our precious planet, and making our daily choices based on what is best for our Mother Earth are powerful things that we can all do in our daily lives that make important contributions towards our happiness and wellbeing as one big human family.
A bow in gratitude to you for all that you do to preserve peace and love,


Mindful Walking

“I know the Earth is my mother; a great living being.  I vow to protect the Earth, and the Earth protects me.”
This invitation by Thay to infuse our walking with loving mindfulness is perfect as the weeks of rain clear and we may be walking more than we have recently.  As we walk and remember our interbeing with all that we see, and notice the changes since our last walk, we can feel deep gratitude for the protection our great Mother Earth offers us, and strengthen our resolve to do what we can to preserve this precious planet.  
Thay also invites us to walk with full awareness of our love for the Earth:
 
“Each step can express your love for the Earth.  As you walk, you can say 
‘I love the Earth.  I am in love with the Earth.’”
“With both body and mind present as we take each step, when we are fully present, every step, placed gently, and mindfully on Mother Earth can bring us a lot of healing and happiness…
…We’re not stepping on something inanimate… in every speck of dust or grain of sand there are countless bodhisattvas… …we can be in contact through our feet with the Great Bodhisattva Mother Earth.  
     ‘With each step, I come home to the Earth.
With each step, I return to my source.
With each step, I take refuge in Mother Earth.’ “
This morning, I held 2 gazaneas, 3 buttercups, my child’s hat, her umbrella that she has become accustomed to bringing, the dog lead, and a small Koala.  I was so grateful that she had decided against also bringing her A2 sized laminated alphabet chart in the walk as she’d contemplated, as I did what I could to incorporate the essence of this beautiful practice into my daily life.  
 How do you enjoy the kissing our Mother Earth with imprints of reverence  and gratitude as you walk?
These quotations are from “Love Letter to The Earth” but I can’t check the date of publication as darling Miss Two is ‘reading’ it right now in this wonderful moment.

“Mum, would you like to smile?”

These are the first words I heard this morning.

Followed by “there you go Mama, so lovely”.

I say ‘this morning’ in reference to the time after birds had started.

All the talking in wake and sleep that happened between 2:00 am and the birds shall be known as night talking. Night talking is not to be encouraged, as cute as some of the stuff is (Mummy I draw a beautiful pitcha on your aaaaaaaaarm); and shall not be spoken of again.

But that morning invitation to smile. Oh!

Thay makes the same invitation in the morning prayer:

Waking up this morning I smile

Twenty four brand new hours are before me

I vow to live mindfully in each moment

And to look at all beings with eyes of compassion

The beautiful hand made poster of this recitation that I used to have stuck beside the bed was long ago removed by a curious baby. Some days I remember to start the day with a smile to this poem, many days I’m swept up with the earliest demands.

Today they synthesised and my smile was so big, my presence in the moment so true; my gratitude for the life I have so visceral. Whatever the day brings, it started with a smile, and a smile to the invitation to smile.

Being awake since 2:00 is going to be ok…