A monarch in the meadowPosted: September 14, 2012 Filed under: 365 Yoga Challenge, Adventures in Life, Air, Critters, Earth, endings, Fire, goals, health, home, Letting Go, Meditation, Metta/Lovingkindness, Mindfulness, nature, Photography, Spirit, Summer, Walking, wandering, weather, yoga | Tags: butterfly, clouds, flowers, Health, Lovingkindness Meditation, Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness, MaidinSun Photography, Meadow, meditation, Mettā, Monarch (butterfly), nature, Outdoors, Photography, Sharon Salzberg, Summer, weather, wildflowers 29 Comments
stands for all things
even for those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on the brow
of the flower,
and retell it in words and in touch,
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing.
~ Galway Kinnell
I’ve posted this poem sometime in the past (it seems like long ago), and it came to mind this morning as I was pondering “what next?”
In about eight days I will have finished my year-long yoga and pescetarian challenges. Having taken on year-long challenges two years in a row, I can tell you that when you do something for a year, it can change your life on all levels. I can also tell you that there is a kind of sadness at the end of the cycle/challenge although there really is no end. I still take daily walks outside. I intend to continue with my daily yoga practice. And I’m easing towards a mostly vegan lifestyle.
Having given it a lot of thought, I believe the previous two challenges (the year of getting outside every day, and the year of yoga and pescetarianism) are leading me towards a third.
I am going to challenge myself to a year of daily meditation practice. Seated meditation practice. I thought I should specify that because my daily walks are often a moving meditation.
I am thinking about finding a way to describe each day’s meditation visually by way of an image. When I was doing the 28-day meditation challenge provided by Yoga Journal, part of the practice was to journal after meditation, describing what you saw or felt or heard during the meditation. I often struggled with the descriptions, finding it difficult to put into words. Today, for example, my meditation was like a cloud.
Soft, filled with light, and arcing across the sky.
It’s not always like that. Some days my mind is like a clear, blue sky. Not a cloud to be seen or felt. Other days it’s more like the leaves being blown about by gusty winds on a gray and cloudy day. There is so much movement that all I can do is give up on stillness and follow the wind for a while.
I might start with metta or lovingkindness meditation. In her book Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness (Shambhala Classics), Sharon Salzberg writes that we should begin by befriending ourselves. I think that’s a good place for me to start. I am not always my own friend, and I’d like to be.
Metta is the ability to embrace all parts of ourselves, as well as all parts of the world. Practicing metta illuminates our inner integrity because it relieves us of the need to deny different aspects of ourselves. We can open to everything with the healing force of love. When we feel love, our mind is expansive and open enough to include the entirety of life in full awareness, both its pleasures and its pains.
~ Sharon Salzberg
So that’s my next challenge, beginning on the Autumnal Equinox. I would also like to be more aware, more mindful, more in the now. That will likely be the bigger challenge, but not a new one. I’ve been working on it.
Well, that’s it from the Bogs on this rainy Friday afternoon. A cold front is moving through today. Tomorrow is predicted to be simply gorgeous. Mostly sunny with a high around 69 degrees. Sounds like good bike riding or hiking weather to me.
I hope you have a weekend filled with joy and wonder. 🙂
To be able to notice the less obvious beauty, to appreciate it, to change perspective for a time is a type of quiet, a way of rest. We do this by being fully aware in the moment. If we simply feel the miracle of being present, a kind of appreciation grows along with a kind of joy. Attending to the small things in front of us becomes a way of self-renewal and self-refreshment.
~ Sharon Salzberg
Purplee clouds my favorite.
As always, beautiful photos that capture Mother Nature in her many moods.
Wow, you sure have captured the beauty of that meadow!
you have piqued my interest in Sharon Salzberg. I too am longing to begin a seated meditation practice. Being in nature, walking, pausing are my normal acts of meditation and I am looking for something else. Perhaps while you share an image of yours, I can create an image with words. hmm….
I just discovered that I was living totally in the moment as I read this post Robin, then my son (the only other person at home) closed a door and startled me! Oh to live in a home of quiet! Some days, I think I would love to live alone, as I think of the peace and solitude it would bring.
Sharon Salzberg sounds like a person I would like to learn more about and I would like to buy her book that you have spoken about here. Peace and a clear mind, which really go hand in hand, are what I crave on a daily basis. If only I had realised the benefits at an earlier age!
Needless to say, I really enjoyed this post and all of the peaceful photos. 🙂
Ah, your photos always bring me peace! Congratulations for fulfilling those challenges. My nephew has been practicing pescatarianism for two years now and he claims good health. Dapper and I have cut out dairy and are trying for a more plant-based diet. Just cutting out the dairy brought my bad cholesterol way down! So what you have accomplished is really a big deal. I think people, in general, need to be more aware of what they eat and why we should eat those things!
how did you find the yoga, i was thinking about doing some ‘at-home’ yoga via the internet
lovely photographs, i really like the sky ones and the autumn leaf portrait
I thoroughly enjoyed my daily yoga practices, Chloe. The nice thing about doing it at home is that I can do it as and when I like. I’m going to continue my daily practice even though the challenge is over. 🙂
that’s what i like most about at home stuff instead of joining at a gym, i could do it whenever i feel like it 🙂
so deep, yet light and awakening, your words and images like the touch of butterflies wings moving in the heart, opening to something new …
Lovely photos and a lovely plan. The color and the light of the pink flowers in the second photo are just gorgeous. Being present in the here and now is something I always have to remind myself to do.
Your commitments are inspiring, Robin.
Just like your photos!
Thanks for sharing them.
One gorgeous shot after another – that butterfly caught in lift – and that cloud! great phrase: “labyrinth of the mind”.
Go out and play! ( something wonderful waits – and I know you’ll share)
As usual you’re photos are wonderful, bit I really think the last one tops everything. 🙂
A year of meditation practice–what a wonderful challenge! It is true, we can learn so much from our commitments. It will be fascinating to see what you discover in the upcoming year. I am committing to not doing commitments for a while–lol–ha ha, we’ll see how long this lasts. Sitting in Presence with you as the year unfolds, Kathy
Although I signed up for email alerts of your blog I haven’t being receiving them. I don’t know why I came here today – so glad I did. The poem is exactly what I needed to read – I’m going to copy it out – and your photos are beautiful!
I’m very impressed that you’re giving yourself another challenge. We should walk, do yoga and meditate every day without having to challenge ourselves. Wish I wasn’t so …. what is it that stops me from doing it? Is it laziness? I so want to turn my life around… I guess starting small with one thing as you did is the way to go …
I agree, Rosie. It would be wonderful if we could do all the right things, all the things that are so good for us, without challenging ourselves. I’m hoping that’s where these challenges will eventually lead me — to a life of no challenges, just walking, yoga, meditation, and eating right because it’s what I do. 🙂
Loved so many of these from that Luminous cloud to the bright monarch. Thanks.
Lovely, Robin. I love the way i feel when I start my day with meditation. It is my way of clearing myself for what is to come. As for the befriending yourself. i wonder why it is that so many, me included, have such a hard time loving self first.
That`s a very good one to incorporate in your life … you are inspiring!
Robin, has it been a year already? It only seems a short while ago that I remember you starting the new challenge. Gosh!
I haven’t tried a year long challenge yet. As you mention, there are definite benefits to it. Hmmm….
Your new challenge sounds wonderful. I’d like to join you on the sitting meditation part. I know I can do that part. As for the yoga, I just learned some gentle yoga that I can use every day to help my joints. I’d like to get into a habit with it also. I know that taking care of myself means putting my needs first. If I can allow myself to make everything else wait, then I’ll be able to stay on track. That’s the tricky part for me.
Thanks for the quotes and the mention of the book. I’ll have to add it to my book list as well. 🙂
That would be wonderful, Marianne, if you feel up to the challenge of a daily sitting meditation. I’d love your company. 🙂
What a beautiful visual meditation, Robin. I love your idea of sharing your experience visually – you’ve already led me on a journey with the contemplation of fungi as labyrinth 🙂
I love your idea of a year-long challenge. I am going to give this some thought for myself. 🙂
Beautiful photos and beautiful post. Soulful visual meditation. A reminder to return to the nature of self, if you will.
I can’t believe it’s been ten days since I wrote this post, and I’m just now getting around to answering comments. Thank you so much everyone for your lovely comments. I’ll try to do better in the future, but no promises. Sometimes life gets in the way of blogging, as it should. 🙂
Your commitments are always so inspiring to me, Robin. I struggle with making any sort of major commitment because my work schedule is so lopsided/seasonal, but then I ask myself if I’m just making excuses. 🙂 In any case, a daily (seated) meditation practice sounds divine. So does being a good and loving friend to myself. Bless you, my friend!
Thank you, Dana. 🙂
I avoided commitments (other than marriage and motherhood) for the longest time. There are still some I should be making that I avoid. The commitments of the past three years have actually been fairly easy, although that might just be hindsight. Things often tend to look easy once I’m finished. 😀