New Skin

May 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’m glad to see you! Please bear with me as I am in process (and I do mean PROCESS!) of shedding skin & relocating here: melhunt.com

The spaces between words and The Neverending Story

May 3, 2012 § 2 Comments

I never told you about hiking in Norway, falling in love with Aurland and Tone. Or about the week we spent exploring Tad’s Swedish heritage and the intense bonds developed there. Or that I began to teach. I never told you the story of how we found ourselves in India and how I threw down my heart in Varanasi and again in Macleod Ganj. Or how we lost both remaining pets and how that feels after 15 years. Or that we finally put our house on the market. I haven’t shared the revelations, love, confusion, heartbreak, exhaustion, connections, the LIFE that has been going on. All these many pieces of where I’ve been and who I am becoming. Much of it is recorded on the scrawled pages of blank books or buried in the folds of wrinkled skin, bedsheets and grey matter. These stories are still shifting, still being made – this recent past still struggling to be seen and understood. Which makes it that much harder to know where to begin. (Begin again. Just begin.)

*

On Sunday, I “finished” reading The NeverEnding Story by Michael Ende (the story of how I found it, who it’s tied to, what it means to me – another story, for another time). About mid-way through I closed the cover, my receipt from the used bookshop marking the page where these words appeared in green ink, my heart thumping as it often does when encountering a significant truth: “’A story can be new and yet tell about olden times. The past comes into existence with the story.’” I’ve been returning to these words again and again, as I knew I would in the moment my eyes traced them into my heart. So many meanings.

If I were to read a factual accounting of the events of my life, word for word, would it change my experience of it? The understanding of my history comes into existence with the stories I have told myself. And my past shifts as current events shape my perspective. The truth of the past always exists – the actual events, that is; but the way we frame it can change (if we allow ourselves that), just as the framing of the same events differs from person to person based on the perspective.

It’s only recently that the story of how I talked myself out of teaching has been written – and the associated events remembered. How much of that is fact and how much is still a distortion? How much of it was obscured and comes to light only because I can now look on it with love? The past can be a thing that I bend to my own purpose, hiding hard truths from myself, or it can shed new light on my life, showing me the way. Sometimes I use the stories to assign meaning and sometimes they seem full of meaning independent of my curation… Do as you wish, sometimes the wishes of the heart are deeply buried and hard to find. The stories help me see the wishes that have been there all along. I am no longer the confused child, wanting ever to please and ever to rebel. I am the one who knows the middle way (for the moment at least). I am the student. I am the teacher. It is so humbling, and so very RIGHT.

What a human thing, that the stories we tell ourselves shape our experience and our emotions. The olden times we tell about, this is our humanity. Our new stories about our old experiences. The past matters because of who it has created. The present matters because of how it shapes the past and who it IS creating. The snakes biting each other’s tails. Neverending and on it goes. I am bound to revisit my experiences, again and again, until I step in with a proclamation, a new name, a new perspective and a new story. I am bound to this, maybe, until I step into my Self. The past does not matter to this eternal piece of me. I have no stories at all, except the new one being created right now, and now and now and now.

*

If you have not read this book, I highly recommend it. Sometimes I feel that fantasy can address questions of consciousness and history and love more readily than other types of fiction, because these things can be so…Fantastic. I’ve never thought myself a story-teller. But clearly, in my own way for my own self, I am.

May I tell myself stories that contain Truth even as the details, circumstances, and perception shift. May I forgive the dark spaces that accompany the manipulations of my memories. May I step in when necessary, to begin the story again with more clarity, reshaping the past, the present and my future.

*

Are there any books that read like Truth to you? Or a story of your own life that you’ve begun to see differently?

Ingredients {Thoughts on Morning Practice}

January 26, 2012 § 1 Comment

Ask questions. “what if?” “why?” “what do i need?”

Apply effort. Imperfectly. Repeatedly. Until there are worn spots on your mat, your heart, the soles of your boots, the letters on the keys beneath your fingertips.

Breathe.

Try something you’d given up on months ago (see, “what if?”) and find that your imperfect effort, over time, has prepared you well. Give yourself the space to unfold into this moment. With stability, grace, and joy.

Laugh.

Let this fill you with new possibilities, new questions. Let it shatter your old images of who and what you were. Go ahead, take it further and fall flat. Fail. Awkwardly, spectacularly.

Laugh (loudly, as your face meets the floor. it’s nicer and funnier if you aren’t that far away to start*).

Resolve to remember this the next time you feel inadequate (or over-confident). The feeling is not so important as asking the question, as trying; the unfolding or awkwardness not so important as the laughter, the release.

Breathe. Rest. Write.

 

*Disclaimer. safety, safety, safety. Do not be reckless. Listen to your body.

Hamstrung

January 6, 2012 § 8 Comments

It is Wednesday, and by now the soreness in my hamstrings should be subtle, a gentle reminder of the fire-y work of Sunday’s sun salutes (108. What a way to begin.) When I’m seated, that’s true. It’s the type of pleasant soreness that says I’ve worked hard, leaving me feeling humbled (because it was difficult) and grateful (Because I am blessed simply to be healthy – sun salutes are a gift). When I stand up however, my tender muscles protest loudly and I stoop for a step or two. They creak and groan as I take a moment to slowly, gently straighten, and they remind me that it’s not always the things I think that need the strengthening (shouldn’t it be my shoulders?) Sometimes I’m certain it’s will I am lacking, when actually it’s my ability to let go that’s in need of exercise.

I could just sit all day. I could not move and I wouldn’t have to feel the pain. But if I choose to avoid this discomfort, I will get stuck. Another reminder, of course. It is so easy to allow even minor discomfort to keep me static, fearful, resistant. Paying attention, and gently probing those tender spots, massaging those muscles, is the only way out.

This is why I love asana. The body is such an amazing teacher when we pay it some attention.

Evolve

December 30, 2011 § 5 Comments

Evolve. Ani D says “I’m trying to” – and I have loved the lyrics of that song for years – but mostly I’m thinking lately that the evolution is something that happens when I STOP trying. Stop trying so damn hard and wanting so damn much. I could tell you my stories (the ones I’ve fabricated and the ones that might have some actual truth to them), or most especially, the ones that began in the weeks before my mother died.  But I think I can sum them all up in a word. Evolution.

When it becomes blood-red-stark-and-unmistakably clear that everything you have been doing does not matter – not in the way you thought, maybe even not at all – you have no other (or conscious) choice. This evolution comes in the quiet blink (or permanent close) of eyelids. When your vision returns, the old habits left behind take longer to rub away – and then it begins: When the only thing you are sure of is what is NOT worthwhile, then you have got to fill that void with something. (Eventually, you will come to look on this emptiness – though not necessarily the loss itself – as a painful but great gift). There will be many worthy pursuits ready to occupy your attention and ‘make up for lost time’… eventually, you will learn that no time spent is ever ‘lost’ and nothing can be forced. The immense power of your will alone is not enough if it is misguided. You will simply have to try, experiment, gently tug on threads and follow old paths. What you think about all this and most especially what you think may come of it are details that will only distract you from your hard-won heart-wisdom. The only certainty is the answer to this question of passion and purpose is circumstantial and it will change. (If there ever WERE an answer to begin with – I think there might be actually, cloaked in any number of broad or narrow possibilities) It’s possible that it will be buried under so many layers and memories that it pre-dates every single one of your all-important stories. It’s possible too, that the answer IS Evolve (or some combination of those letters), and that the only real and lasting contentment lies in the evolution itself.

Bring me the Sunflower

August 1, 2011 § 2 Comments

Flowers and words from dear dear friends. I hope that you enjoy them too:

Bring me the sunflower, let me plant it
in my field porched by the salt sea wind,
and let it show the blue reflecting sky
the yearning of it’s yellow face all day.

Dark things tend to brightness, bodies
fade out in a flood of colors,
colors in music. So disappearring is
the destiny of destinies.

Bring me the plant that leads the way
to where blood transparencies
rise, and life as essence turns to haze;
bring me the sunflower crazed with light.

***

Portami il girasole ch’io lo trapianti
nel mio terreno bruciato dal salino,
e mostri tutto il giorno agli azzurri specchianti
del cielo l’ansietà del suo volto giallino.

Tendono alla chiarità le cose oscure,
si esauriscono i corpi in un fluire
di tinte: queste in musiche. Svanire
é dunque la ventura delle venture.

Portami tu la pianta che conduce
dove sorgono bionde trasparenze
e vapora la vita quale essenza;
portami il girasole impazzito di luce.

-Eugenio Montale

a little kindness

July 28, 2011 § 7 Comments


I suffer* through some stupid stuff sometimes, due to pure stubborn bull-headedness.

Do you know what I mean? The kind of thing that in the scheme of things is so NOT a big deal, but in the minutia of the day to day, or in combination becomes enough to effect your outlook, your emotions, and your ability to effectively manage what’s on deck? Getting enough sleep for instance (actually, this is a big thing. But I’m not talking about serious insomnia. I’m talking about a random night of sleeplessness) Ok. Enough qualifications and explanations.

See, I have this thing about whining. To a fault.

I’m working on it. Not on trying to whine *MORE*, but on the background, the attitudes and habits that this intolerance implies. Like being able to accept help (or god forbid, ask for it). Or being able to make a subtle shift that allows more joy into my day – and maybe, to the people who cross my path.

I have been working on self-kindness for years now. I have made some huge strides I am happy [happier!] to say. You would think I’d have it down by now. Sometimes, I think I do. But in the last 24 hours, I’ve had to admit (again) that I have more to learn. The bits of unkindness that remain reflect a disregard that startles me a little. Simple stuff. Big impact.

A tiny bit of context: When I was a kid, I had serious insomnia. I have no idea how I functioned through high school. I didn’t function well. But, (so says the story), a big change in my senior year brought consistent, deep, restful sleep. Since that time, I have never had more than brief issues; I sleep like a stone. If you think I’m lucid and speak with me, I may not recall it in the morning. I love my sleep and I am so grateful for it, because I remember what it was like not to.

Last night, I woke around midnight. I lay awake for awhile. I tossed and turned and tried not to disturb the soundly sleeping cat or T beside me. I had a headache. I was hungry. My knee felt a little tweaky. (Minor things, not like when I was a kid. I feel like a whiner, writing these things. I feel like a whiner telling you about when I was a kid). I began to get frustrated, but it didn’t even occur to me – no, that’s not true. I flat-out refused to get up and take care of the tiny things in the way of getting a few more hours of solid sleep. Finally, I realized that I was being ridiculous, and gently picked up my sweet kitty and placed her to the side. I climbed out of bed and had tylenol, a snack, and some tea. Tucked a pillow under the covers for my knee, smiled to myself and put some lavender on my pillow for good measure. And fell into such a deep sweet sleep.

Was that so hard?? A few simple actions, a night of good rest, and a more pleasant me.

Then today, a lovely, lovely day. I headed out to a doctor’s appt. Great mood, well rested, beautiful sun, tunes on the stereo, singing along. I got close to the clinic and felt some slight unease. About silly stuff. Parking. Doctor. Ugh. No big story here, it’s a ridiculously little thing. No big issue, no history. And so I was prepared to just do it as I have many times before. It’s not a big deal (NO WHINING! ESPECIALLY ABOUT RIDICULOUS STUFF!) It wouldn’t have negatively impacted my day or my mood.

But then, instead of fighting for a space in the dark, damp garage, I made a left turn and parked at the gardens backing up to the clinic. I had a lovely walk on through the grounds, entering the clinic in an even better mood. I practically sang hello to the kind woman who checked me in. I visit these gardens periodically. They are beautiful and one of my favorite close by spaces. Why then, has it never occurred to me to do this before?

I’m still pondering, and shaking my head a bit. Because my sensible, no-whining self says, that I get to choose how I respond to lack of sleep or a ridiculously little thing like parking. She’s right – I do. But my softer self is looking for a little more lee-way, a little more love. She says that continuing to do things the hard way and choosing to be in a good mood anyway doesn’t make me a better person. So how about a little more kindness? How about a little more joy?

I think she’s on to something.

********************************************************

Deep thanks to Kylie for this post. When I read it I thought I had learned this already, but I would be wrong – I would be shy of sleep and deprived of a lovely walk in the gardens.

*Suffer is a very relative term, please understand. 
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