What If?

What if our religion was each other?
If our practice was our life?
If prayer was our words?
What if the Temple was the Earth?
If forests were our church?
If holy water – the rivers, lakes and ocean?
What if meditation was our relationships?
If the Teacher was Life?
If wisdom was self-knowledge?
If love was the center of our being?
~ Ganga White

New addition to my Favorite Quotes page.

Thanks to David Baker for sharing on Facebook. Yes. These are the questions to be asked.

Seeing differently, peripheral awareness, Carlos Castaneda, joy, lessons

This post is to let you know that I’m doing a short presentation entitled “Seeing Differently” at Austin’s first Free Day of NLP tomorrow. The event will take place at Soma Vida, 1210 Rosewood in East Austin from 9 am until 4 pm. You can come and go as you desire.

I’m on at 2 pm. If you’re on Facebook and want an invitation or to see the whole schedule, send me a message!

Because I only have 10 minutes, we’ll do some exercises so attendees can experience seeing differently rather than go into the science and history of it. Afterwards, I’ll be available for questions and insights.

The basic premises are:

  1. Although we humans have two ways of seeing, foveally (focused) and peripherally, our peripheral visual capabilities are underused and can be developed.
  2. These two ways of seeing have different neurological wiring and create different states/experiences of awareness. Thus using peripheral vision creates peripheral awareness.
  3. Developing peripheral awareness can result in natural altered states of consciousness in which we experience less anxiety and more joy.
  4. Practicing peripheral awareness gives us more resources in life, whether it’s seeing a bigger picture than customary, feeling more centered/grounded/solid in your body, enhancing your other senses, being better at sports and martial arts, and finding your way around in the dark!

I believe this is what Carlos Castaneda was getting at with the following quotes:

Everybody falls pray to the mistake that seeing is done with the eyes. Seeing is not a matter of the eyes. Seeing is alignment and perception is alignment. Seeing is learned by seeing.

When you see, there are no longer familiar features in the world. Everything is new. Everything has never happened before. The world is incredible!

To perceive the energetic essence of things means that you perceive energy directly. By separating the social part of perception, you’ll perceive the essence of everything. Whatever we are perceiving is energy, but since we can’t directly perceive energy, we process our perception to fit a mold. This mold is the social part of perception, which you have to separate.

I first encountered peripheral awareness in my evolutionary NLP training with teacher Tom Best, who learned it from the master, Nelson Zink. Katie Raver (creator of Free Day of NLP) and I co-ran a meet-up in Austin a few years ago in which we taught people to do peripheral walking.

The way I teach it, there are three parts: peripheral awareness, peripheral walking, and night walking.

I’m now offering lessons combining peripheral awareness and walking in my private practice, teaching 1-3 people at a time how to do it, using downtown trails. You can book a lesson online at http://thewell.fullslate.com.

Each moment, life as it is, the only teacher: quotes from Joko Beck

I posted this originally on June 16, 2011. Needing to remind myself of her wisdom, I thought you might want to (re)read her words and appreciate her wisdom too.

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Charlotte Joko Beck died yesterday, very peacefully, at the age of 94. She was a Zen teacher who made a major impact on American Buddhism.

Here’s a link to her obituary, a note from her dharma heir Barry Magid, and a remembrance by a long-time friend.

And here’s a link to an article that puts her work into perspective:

The Ordinary Mind School was among the first Zen communities to consciously engage the emotional life and the shadows of the human mind as Zen practice. The late Charlotte Joko Beck and her dharma heirs adapted elements of the vipassana tradition — a relentless inquiry into the contours of the human mind — as unambiguous Zen discipline.

Here are some quotes from her:

With unfailing kindness, your life always presents what you need to learn. Whether you stay home or work in an office or whatever, the next teacher is going to pop right up.

Caught in the self-centered dream, only suffering;
holding to self-centered thoughts, exactly the dream;
each moment, life as it is, the only teacher;
being just this moment, compassion’s way.

Enlightenment is not something you achieve. It is the absence of something. All your life you have been going forward after something, pursuing some goal. Enlightenment is dropping all that.

Wisdom is to see that there is nothing to search for. If you live with a difficult person, that’s nirvana. Perfect. If you’re miserable, that’s it. And I’m not saying to be passive, not to take action; then you would be trying to hold nirvana as a fixed state. It’s never fixed, but always changing. There is no implication of ‘doing nothing.’ But deeds done that are born of this understanding are free of anger and judgment. No expectation, just pure and compassionate action.

Practice is just hearing, just seeing, just feeling. This is what Christians call the face of God: simply taking in this world as it manifests. We feel our body; we hear the cars and birds. That’s all there is.

Life always gives us exactly the teacher we need at every moment. This includes every mosquito, every misfortune, every red light, every traffic jam, every obnoxious supervisor (or employee), every illness, every loss, every moment of joy or depression, every addiction, every piece of garbage, every breath. Every moment is the guru.

So a relationship is a great gift, not because it makes us happy — it often doesn’t — but because any intimate relationship, if we view it as practice, is the clearest mirror we can find.

Practice can be stated very simply. It is moving from a life of hurting myself and others to a life of not hurting myself and others. That seems so simple — except when we substitute for real practice some idea that we should be different or better than we are, or that our lives should be different from the way they are. When we substitute our ideas about what should be (such notions as “I should not be angry or confused or unwilling”) for our life as it truly is, then we’re off base and our practice is barren.

We have to face the pain we have been running from. In fact, we need to learn to rest in it and let its searing power transform us.

We learn in our guts, not just in our brain, that a life of joy is not in seeking happiness, but in experiencing and simply being the circumstances of our life as they are; not in fulfilling personal wants, but in fulfilling the needs of life.

Meditation is not about some state, it is about the meditator.

Zen practice isn’t about a special place or a special peace, or something other than being with our life just as it is. It’s one of the hardest things for people to get: that my very difficulties in this very moment are the perfection… When we are attached to the way we think we should be or the way we think anyone else should be, we can have very little appreciation of life as it is…whether or not we commit physical suicide, if our attachment to our dream remains unquestioned and untouched, we are killing ourselves, because our true life goes by almost unnoticed.

This is water.

Here’s a video made about a  commencement speech, about the banality that is the water we swim in in our modern daily lives, and where our freedom truly lies.

The capital T Truth is about life before death. It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge and everything to do with simple awareness, awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over, “This is water. This is water.”

What does being healthy mean to you?

Quote

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. ~World Health Organization, 1948

Words are important. They influence our thinking greatly, and therefore our behavior. I recently ran across this decades-old definition of health. It made an impression.

How do you characterize health? As “something is wrong” or as “something is right”? As something you move toward or away from?

As an experiment in the power of words, let’s take apart the statement above.

First, say to yourself, “Health is the absence of disease or infirmity.” What does that mean to you? How does it resonate?

To me, it means that as long as I don’t have a disease (that is, anything “wrong” with me, like cancer, chicken pox, an infection) or an infirmity (like being feeble or frail), then I am healthy.

Notice that the statement focuses on physical health. So as long as I avoid getting sick or infirm, I am healthy.

(You may also realize how much of the “health care system” is set up using this model. You go to the doctor to find out what’s wrong with you.)

Now say to yourself, “Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being.” Think about what that means to you.

What would it be like to have complete physical well-being? I imagine waking up each day completely refreshed from a good night’s sleep, feeling able-bodied, with a robust immune system working for me, and having stamina to spare as I go about my daily life. I imagine feeling vibrant, full of vitality, glowing with health.

I imagine eating healthily, getting regular massages, and exercising to maintain and improve my physical well-being.

How about complete mental well-being? What would that be like? Well, I think I would feel good about myself and others most of the time. I would acknowledge disappointments and disturbances, feel the pain, and let go of it, learning whatever I can from the experience.

I would sort whether information coming my way was true or useful, so I wouldn’t be a sucker for the latest buzz in my ears.

I would use both hemispheres of my brain, employing reason and intuition as needed.

I would make it a habit to develop my mental capabilities. Lifelong learning keeps your mind healthy.

Now, what about complete social well-being? What does that look/sound/feel like to you?

In my opinion, it would mean being centered in my own being, having good boundaries with others, and not needing drama in my relationships.

It would mean being open to others while trusting my own inner radar about what is true and good.

It would mean forgiving others but not being a doormat, allowing myself and others to be vulnerable, being trustworthy with good judgment about others’ trustworthiness, being accountable and expecting others to be accountable as well.

It would mean learning and growing from all my relationships.

I like the well-being definition (of course I do, look at the name of my blog!). It has a direction of “moving toward” rather than “avoiding,” which the absence definition does.

The well-being definition brings up a companion question:

How can I be healthier, physically, mentally, and socially?

And it’s that question that is constantly with me. Yes, of course, sometimes I rest, and sometimes I fall asleep, yet the inquiring has become a habit.

What clients say about integrative massage

One recipient of an integrative massage (which combines Swedish massage, Lauterstein deep massage, acupressure points, foot reflexology, body mobilization techniques, muscle testing, stretching, trigger point therapy, and craniosacral work, as needed and desired) wrote afterwards:

Just a note to say I really enjoyed our conversation and my massage. The massage you gave me has allowed me to sleep soundly two nights in a row. My stress level also feels much lower than usual. Thank you for enhancing my life with your friendship and magical/healing massages! Sending happiness & blessings & love your way.

Here’s a testimonial for an integrative massage I gave to a dear friend suffering from insomnia.

I sit here at my computer after the best night’s sleep I’ve had in weeks. I am so deeply grateful for your loving energy yesterday. Your integrity, touch, and presence were exactly what I needed to break open the clogged dam of emotions that’s been keeping me from sleep.

All throughout the massage, I could feel and take in your love and healing energy which is abundantly transferred through your hands. When you said ‘How you feel matters,’ my soul got the message that you cared enough to hear, see, and touch me.

When you did the cranial-sacral hold, I felt like I was being cradled by my mother.

You had asked the question, “What happened three weeks ago?” … My insomnia has been “waking me up” to the fact of unfinished business….

Your work allowed me to dive through the opening and swim the turbulent waters on top of a still well. I’m not quite at the still well yet, but I have faith that I’ll get there.

Another client wrote to say:

MaryAnn has a special gift to connect with you and gently nurture your entire being. She is unique in that she offers unconditional love so freely. I highly recommend her massage therapy. ❤

For more about The Well Ashiatsu Barefoot Massage Austin, see my home page.

What Ashiatsu clients say about it

Here’s what my clients are saying about Ashiatsu:

“Just got a great ashiatsu session from MaryAnn Reynolds in her cozy office on W. 12th Street. She was able to deliver bodywork with deep and responsive pressure, and my sore calves (hiking in vibrams anyone?) feel much looser & less painful now. Would highly recommend her bodywork as well as her deep personal knowledge of the body itself. Thanks!”

“I don’t know what you did to my shoulders last time, but afterwards they were so loose it felt like my hands were dragging on the ground.”

“That was the best massage I’ve ever had.”

“One Ashi session is the equivalent of three regular massages. It saves time and money and really gets the stress out. I feel great afterwards.”

“Ashiatsu is good medicine.”

“Great pressure and contact. Felt safe and cared for. MaryAnn knows her anatomy!”

“I loved this! It was very different, but I enjoyed experiencing these long, deep strokesVery refreshing experience. Thank you so much!!!”

“I really relaxed and felt better afterwards.”

Reiki at the end — great job — thank you!”

“I enjoyed her intuition and perception of my needs! Her ability to adjust and incorporate different strokes to better meet a particular need in my body. Thank you!”

My home page has more about The Well Ashiatsu Barefoot Massage Austin!

Quote: Finding your spiritual home

From Martha Beck’s Daily Inspirations:

Many people take umbrage when someone sets out to find his or her spiritual home. If you embark on a similar journey, you should expect some people to be shocked, to be angry, to tell you you’re breaking the rules. That has certainly been my experience. However, the rewards are inexpressibly wonderful. Heading towards that inner home will take you places—both inside yourself and in the external world—which your heart will recognize as its native environment, even though you have never been there before. I would go so far as to say that this may be the purpose for human life; that we are set free into a lonely universe like homing pigeons meant to find our way back to joy.

I just love this lady. She’s incredibly wise and insightful.

The value of confession is that it softens us

Aside

Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche (one of Pema Chodron’s teachers) writes:

The gap between ourselves and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas exists because of our own denial, that could not be penetrated by any blessings. But that denial comes from and covers, deep down, a lack of harmony with oneself, a conflict inside, between how things are and how they appear. Having these two in harmony is enlightenment. As we confess, we feel the lack of the aggression and rejection that underlies our denial. A little white light opens up in our being that one day can expand to the vastness of the sky. We can avail ourselves of help from which we were previously blocked. This is why honest and intelligent confession practice is so valued by many religious traditions.

Wise words about loss and presence, joy and gratitude

My young, wise Facebook friend Arpita Rose shared this quote. I thought it was so amazing, I wanted to share. I added to my Favorite quotes page too.

You will lose everything. Your money, your power, your fame, your success, perhaps even your memories. Your looks will go. Loved ones will die. Your body will fall apart. Everything that seems permanent is impermanent and will be smashed. Experience will gradually, or not so gradually, strip away everything that it can strip away. Waking up means facing this reality with open eyes and no longer turning away.

But right now, we stand on sacred and holy ground, for that which will be lost has not yet been lost, and realising this is the key to unspeakable joy. Whoever or whatever is in your life right now has not yet been taken away from you. This may sound trivial, obvious, like nothing, but really it is the key to everything, the why and how and wherefore of existence. Impermanence has already rendered everything and everyone around you so deeply holy and significant and worthy of your heartbreaking gratitude.

Loss has already transfigured your life into an altar. ~ Jeff Foster