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“Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and stars mirrored in your own being. “

–Rumi

peaceful hands collage black and white

“The sun shines not on us but in us. The rivers flow not past, but through us. Thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing. The trees wave and the flowers bloom in our bodies as well as our souls, and every bird song, wind song, and tremendous storm song of the rocks in the heart of the mountains is our song, our very own, and sings our love.”

–John Muir

waterfall

One of my dear teachers sent me an exerpt of desiderata today.  Good advice to tuck into the heart:

 

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
Be on good terms with all persons,
Speak your truth quietly and clearly,
and listen to others.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
Be gentle with yourself;
no less than the trees and stars you have a right to be here.
Whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Whatever your labors and aspirations
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Strive to be happy.

 

–Max Ehrmann c.1920

whatmatters

First, thank you, thank you to last week’s yogis.  Donations went to the Red Cross for disaster relief in the Philippines.

There will be two more Thursday night yoga classes this year before I head into the depths of the cave for hibernation.  See dates and details below.

 Thursday, November 21 @ 7:00 p.m. This is a pay-what-you-can donations class with 100% of the proceeds going to the Memphis Union Mission.  $50.10 will provide 30 Thanksgiving meals for those seeking food and shelter at the mission.  If you have gently used coats to spare, donate those too as they are currently having a coat drive.

Thursday, December 5 @ 7:00 p.m.  This is a pay-what-you-can donations class with 100% of the proceeds going to Church Health Center.

Both classes are in my cave, fireside.  Expect a slow, restorative practice focused on relaxation

For more information e-mail valetar@aol.com

When we tolerate cruelty to animals we are tolerating cruelty itself, and cruelty has a harmful effect on human society.

–FOCA

Auschwitz begins whenever someone looks at a slaughterhouse and thinks: they’re only animals.

–Theodore W. Adorno

This Thursday night yoga will be a give-what-you-can class. 

Pause for Paws1 

 

The shelter accepts donations of used items in good condition — collars, leashes, dog beds, bowls, bedding, towels, etc.  They especially need kitten and puppy food, non-clumping cat litter, and indestructable dog and cat toys. They also accept cleaning supplies like Bleach or Pine Sol and office supplies of all types.

 

 

b4peace

I have been away from home for a (WHOLE!) week. When I came in my office this morning I open both doors to get some life back into the air that had staled.  The summer semester is over and I had a morning to luxuriate in free time, so I decided to catch up on my blog reading.

I was delighted to discover that Music and Peace is the topic of Kozo’s Monthly Peace Challenge for August.  What a great invitation to pause and ponder what peace sounds like.  There is a fabulous array of interpretations that have been posted on his site, from classics like Edwin Starr’s War (from Many Little Drops) and Cat Steven’s Peace Train (Dianna’s choice)  to modern versions of familiar favorites like Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow (Claudia‘s pick). I’ve also discovered new treasures like Deva Primal, Moola Mantra (on Leigh’s playlist).  Good stuff!

After listening to the wide range of songs that said “peace” to others I sat here thinking about what songs meant “peace” to me. While I was busy with that mind jazz, a joyful noise breezed in unnoticed through the open doors.  It was the soft, but persistent sound of the cicadas.  Their clicking rhythms swelled huge enough to overcome the noise of my own mental chatter. It continued growing, filling in the spaces between the trees. The rhythm abruptly synchopated before dissipating. In the short rest that followed I heard the faint susurrus of the ducklings. A hawk called out from somewhere in the sky and momma duck added her voice to the mix. Call and response. I am here! I am here! I am. I am.

And that is how those durn ducks managed to work their way into yet another one of my posts about peace.

Back to the human music…

I’m positively giddy to be back home, which might be why all the music I’m drawn to today is peaceful in an exhuberant sort of way, like this rendition of Imagine:

…and as a child of the 80s, We Are the World resonates with me as a peace activist sort of song, so I was delighted to find this recently updated version:

Then I found a hardcore version of a peaceful song El-D favors:

And this afternoon Skattur showed me this little singer passionately crooning peaceful Elvis songs…

Her song starts around :59 seconds in, but the whole video is well worth watching.

 

What songs speak peace to you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

may 27 2013 026

True love is inexhaustible; the more you give, the more you have. And if you go to draw at the true fountainhead, the more water you draw, the more abundant is its flow.

–Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Today I am thinking about water.

Throughout the rainy month of May we collected rain water in barrels for the flowers, vegetables, and ducks. Last summer I

flowers 025

just turned on the waterhose or sprinkler and went on about my air-conditioned business inside the house, usually forgetting I left the water running or  that I even had flowers.

With the rain barrels I have to physically walk the water around the yard to give each plant a drink. Oddly, this seems like less of a chore than turning on the water hose.  For one thing, it forces me to spend more time outside actually looking at the flowers and appreciating them.  It’s certainly friendlier than shooting at them from a distance with the hose’s handheld nozzle like they’re zombies I’m trying to keep at bay.

With the watering can it’s all intimate. We get upclose and personal; we talk.

We have had little rain this month.  The hot air is perfumed with sun-baked roses. The waterbarrels are empty.  When El-D suggested we start getting water from the pond for the garden I looked at him like he’d grown two heads.  Dude, that pond is WAY back there and our flowers and vegetables are WAY up here, and-and-AND we DO have running water!

But it made me stop to think….

What if we didn’t?

june 6 026

There are plenty of people who don’t.

Fortunately, I have people in my life who remind me on a regular basis to keep my over-priviledged head on straight, like my friend Amy, who is a teacher-from-the-heart.  Every year her school does a “World Tour” during which each class studies a country.  They make displays and put on performances to share what they learned. Her class studies Kenya every year.  This year they watched a video about the life of a young Maasai boy.  Her students are always struck by the fact that his mother and sisters have to walk every day to get water from the same water hole the animals use.

This year they decided to do something about it.
 
Their school is fundraising through Charity: Water to try to get clean water to developing countries. Their goal is to raise $1000 by July 29.  The link below shows the school’s progress to date.  There is also a video at the bottom of the page that will give you more information about the water crisis.
 
 
Please donate if you love water!
 
We’ll have a donations-based yoga class next Monday evening for all who want to contribute both to your health and to that of others.
 
yoga-waterforyoga

Kozo at everyday gurus has issued June’s Monthly Peace Challenge, the topic of which is Peace at Home.  This is my contribution.  I hope you enjoy!

~~*~~

I’m currently reading Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Now.  How this book wound up in my life is its own story of synchronicity. After I was hired sight-unseen for a teaching gig I hadn’t been seeking,  I discovered this book was on my predecessor’s syllabus. I mentioned this a few weeks ago to a friend who had popped in for lunch.

“I think I need to read this book.” I said.

“Oooh! Goosebumps.” she said, ”  I have that book in my car right now. I knew it was meant for donation — I just didn’t know it was meant for you.”

She had planned to run a few errands following our lunch, which included dropping off a few items in donation.  The book was in her donation pile.

Let me tell you, I am learning that now is very powerful indeed.

So this week I was reading a chapter about using and relinquishing negativity. Early on in the chapter Tolle discusses the problem of negativity,

Negativity is totally unnatural.  It is a psychic pollutant, and there is a deep link between the poisoning and destruction of nature and the vast negativity that has accumulated in the collective human psyche. 

You might imagine my delighted surprise when I came to a passage about ducks.  When I read what Tolle had to say on the topic I had to laugh.  He starts with….

Even ducks have taught me important spiritual lessons.  Just watching them is a meditation.  How peacefully they float along, at ease with themselves, totally present in the Now, dignified and perfect as only a mindless creature can be. 

–Eckhart Tolle

This man has obviously not met my ducks, I thought and closed the book.

You see, earlier this week we had a duck fight.   One of the bad boys, Myrrh, started it.  He grabbed ahold of poor Hiram’s neck with his bill, forcing Hiram to retailiate by grabbing Myrrh’s neck and the two side-stepped back and forth like they were slow dancing.   It was really ridiculous.  Myrrh then joined his juvenile deliquent brother, Frankincense, in bullying their sister Mistletoes.

Frank & Myrrh

Frank & Myrrh

Finally, after one Mistletoes rape too many, I tossed both Frank and Myrrh out of the pen and chased them to the pond. Aside from the departed baby Penguin, none of the ducks had ever been out of the pen in the great beyond. I told El-D I didn’t care what happened to the hooligans, which was almost true…

…until the next morning when I went outside to see if they looked ready to atone for their ruffian behavior and sexual shenanigans.

The boys were nowhere to be found.  I called El-D to whine about it: I didn’t mean to sentence them to death!  I just thought a little overnight banishment into the great beyond might do something to improve their disposition.  El-D joined me in the search for the missing ducks.  We found them…in the pen. In my indignation the previous day, I had absently left the door ajar and the little jerks had snuck back in. All ducks were present and they were laying around murmuring to each other about whatever ducks murmur about.

ducks 005Ok, so I was happy to see them.  Besides, their little adventure did seem to have a positive effect – they were definitely more subdued. There was no aggression, just companionable communication. I guess a day of swimming and doing duck things in the great beyond wore them out.

So….we decided to experiment. El-D wrangled the guys again, which was quite a show. Each one struggled to get away as El-D carried them out of the pen and up the hill.  As soon as they caught another glimpse at the pond, they became still and quiet.  When El-D released them, they went flapping to the water. At the end of the day, they were easy to herd back to the pen.  The next day, when I opened the pen door the bad boys ambled out on their own…followed by Mistletoes.

When I next opened Tolle’s book, this is what I read:

Occasionally, however, two ducks will get into a fight — sometimes for no apparent reason, or because one duck has strayed into another’s private space.  The fight usually lasts only for a few seconds, and then the ducks separate, swim off in opposite directions, and vigorously flap their wings a few times.  They then continue to swim on peacefully as if the fight had never happened.  When I observed that for the first time, I suddenly realized that by flapping their wings they were releasing surplus energy, thus preventing it from becoming trapped in their body and turning into negativity. 

—Eckhart Tolle

What a lesson in forgiving and forgetting.

june 6 032

Today all seven are playing outside in the great beyond. At sunset I will go out there and they will make their way to the pen for their cracked corn dinner.  They are as just fancy about this routine as you please and as well-behaved (at least for now) as the Peabody ducks. All they need is a little red carpet.

Watch any plant or animal and let it teach you acceptance of what is, surrender to the Now.  Let it teach you Being.  Let it teach you integrity – which means to be one, to be yourself, to be real.  Let it teach you how to live and how to die, and how not to make living and dying into a problem. 

–Eckhart Tolle

Kozo of everyday gurus is focusing on art in this month’s peace challenge because

“…art has the ability to transform the soul. If art can change a soul, then it can change the world.”

The challenge: Explain how art makes you a more peaceful person.

When words fail, dance explains.

Here our paths converge despite the differences in generation, life experiences, linguistic and cultural backgrounds, and gender.  These things could separate us, but we have come together to dance. 

And so we begin. We circle this way and that. Sometimes we avoid near collisions, and sometimes maybe not.  When one collapses to the ground, the other lends a helping hand up; this is the lesson we demonstrate to others as much as to ourselves. 

In this dance, this sacred dance called life, we learn to move and breathe as one.

…Oh, just watch the video!

…and another opportunity to promote peace and refuge:

yoga may 2013

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