Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sneaky's Meditation

So this is my cat, Sneaky. And, as you can see, her meditation posture is a little more relaxed than her sister's, my other cat, Shadow. (See Kitty Meditation post for a picture of Shadow's excellent posture.)

And so, My Dear Reader, here is a prose poem for the above photograph.

   She snuggles into the soft cushions of her meditation cave, this tiger of a cat. Green eyes glistening with the clarity of a sphinx, her wiry whiskers twitch as she purrs, revving up her awareness for another moment of presence. She smells of wool blankets and sunshine and clothes that have been hung out on the line. Her claws, like huge talons, they need and claw with love and affection. Her fur, ancient, yet soft, like the eyes of a wise man.
   I smile and nod to her. My eyes meet hers. A crazy yogi, she is, knowing that practice is in every moment, not just on the cushion, in perfect posture. She sits on the cushion, and waits for me to practice, waits for me to sit in perfect meditation posture, with legs crossed and a long spine, while she, this crazy tigress, snuggles into the warmth of my lap, her paws needing my thigh as she purrs and coos, like an infant swaddled in the maternal hug of a fuzzy brown blanket.
   Her wisdom eludes me – while she does not have human consciousness, I know that she is still very much aware, so skilled at the art of being - a Great Master, Sneaky is, disguised as a fat, lounging cat.

© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, Angela Dawn MacKay 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tree Goddess Yoga

I stand firmly on the ground,
balancing on this earthy mound.
As the winds of change do blow,
my body wobbles to and fro,
my mind, it spins and sways,
spiralling into a spinning maze,
but I stay rooted,
for I am not separate from the ground.

The wind blows harder and even though
my body may sway, bend, break, or flow,
I stay rooted,
for I am not separate from the ground.

Although my limbs and leaves will fall,
I stand tall, as I am the ground of all,
For I am more than this oak tree;
For I am as big as big can be.

What separates the ground from the tree?
What separates us all, you from me?
What stops you from seeing your true face,
that's here and there and every space,
pulsing like a heartbeat, alive as can be,
with forms as diverse as the ground and the tree?

No ground, no tree,
no you, no me.
Not one, not two,
Not me, not you.
What I am I cannot say,
only that it's all mind's play.

In this space of primordial mind,
no balance will you ever find.
For balance breaks as do my boughs,
as all things change within the now.

As my thoughts come tumbling down,
down to the earth, deep, dark, and brown,
falling like my crumbling leaves,
letting go as I stand in tree;
I stay rooted,
for I am not separate from the ground.

© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, Angela Dawn MacKay 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Rushing towards Brilliance: A Tale of Being Ordinary

   Yes, I am rushing again. Well, not quite yet, but I'm trying to. You see, I'm holding myself back. I'm trying to be spacious as I write, but my mind is thinking "I've got 25 minutes to write something brilliant!"
   And then I thought, do I really have to be brilliant and clever ever time I write to you, Oh dear Reader? Can I not be just be myself in this moment, not particularly brilliant and clever, just me in an ordinary moment of drinking tea?
  Would it be okay, Oh dear Reader, if I didn't have anything wise to say, no wit or rhyme to pass the time? (Okay, I just couldn't help that one, it just rolled off my tongue, down my fingertips and onto the page.)
  Would you still read if I didn't have a story to tell, oh dear Reader? If I just sat here and wrote and showed you a moment of my mind?
  You see, I've been thinking about my desire to do things well, not just well, but perfectly. I do like to strive for perfection, and yet I know, as I know you know, the follies of such a pursuit. So today, I thought it might be nice to honor imperfection with less than perfect writing. Not bad writing, mind you, that's too much of a leap, just writing that's okay, that's good enough for today. Maybe not publishable, at this point, but okay enough to share with you.
  Oh dear Reader, what do you think? Is it okay for me to write in this way, to let you in on one of the deepest human secrets, that we are all just doing the best that we can right now, with the resources that we have? Know that I am giving you the best of me in this moment and that is all I can ask of you.
  The sun is shining through the orange silk curtains, giving the living room a sunset glow. The white fuzzy dog is sleeping on a frayed stripped mat, just inches away from the streams of sunlight. And I am writing on a red sofa, drinking a Chai latte. I smile at the sleeping dog and the sun that creeps towards him.
  Oh, here my mind goes again – "Only ten more minutes to write something brilliant. Come on, hurry up! Hurry up and be brilliant!" I take a deep breath and smile, seeing my thought like a cloud – there, but not there, surrounded by the vibrant, singing space of the sky.
   I sigh. What a relief. It's just a thought. I don't have to believe it, or have to do anything with it. I don't have to be brilliant at all. For what is brilliance but a golden line I have drawn high in the sky, a line I'm always trying to jump over and safely land on the other side. The golden line, like the cloud, is there, but not there at all. It is as solid as I make it to be and the more transparent it is, the more I see its true nature – a concept of my mind, nothing more.
   Another breath, another smile. My mind says "Three more minutes to be brilliant! Oh, you must hurry." My smile grows into a grin, for I know this part of myself very well. And today, I don't fight with it, I see it and then it drifts away. But can I do the same tomorrow? Ahh, that is just another thought, another cloud to see through. The clouds drift away with every breath, as awareness dissolves the thick cloak of ignorance, the veil that keeps me from seeing that "I" am not at all what I think I am, but so much more.
 Another breath, another smile. Ahh, it is done. It is good enough. Not brilliant, not perfect, but infused with presence and gentleness. Not rushed or hurried, as my mind would have it, but spacious and clear.
Another breath, another smile, another thought. And on it goes…

© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, Angela Dawn MacKay 

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Recipe for Surprise and Delight


One blank page
One or two pens
A cup of steaming hot tea
An open window (so you can see)
A breath or two, slow and deep (but not too slow, or you’ll fall asleep).

Put your pen down on the page. Wait there for a moment – don’t write a word, let your true voice be finally heard. Breathe in and breathe out, in and out. Raise your gaze to look up and out, out of the window to see the day, see the clouds drizzle, or the robin’s play. See beauty in the darkest days, sadness in the summer haze. Let it linger, take it all in, then exhale and begin.

Let your pen wander and dilly dally, with no need to go anywhere. Let it fill the page with words that make no sense, with sentences that dangle and end where ever they want. Write convoluted paragraphs, meandering and dancing down the page as you go. Write what you see, what you feel, what you hear, write whatever it is that you hold dear. A story, a poem, it need not be, what form it is – just wait and see. 

As you let the voice take hold, your writing becomes brave and bold. But do hold the critic, hold him at bay, save cutting for another day. Right now, just be with the voice and the page, connecting with your inner sage. Writing into the unknown can open your eyes, what you write may be quite a surprise. You may dive into the depths of your heart, or maybe another body part. You might discover that your big toe has all the knowledge that you’ll need to know. Or maybe that your right elbow has a whippin’ wild tale that it needs to sow. 

A pen and the page is all you ever need, for writing takes you on quite a ride, like a whirling, twirling water slide! Up, down, and around, where will you go? Only the words ever really know. Trust that you will eventually get there, taking the elevator or the stairs, that the journey down along the page will connect you with your inner sage. 

When it’s done, just let it sit, let the words simmer for a bit. When they’ve cool down, it’s time to cut and paste – chop, chop, chop, no time to waste! Now, the critic can come into play, cutting and chopping, having his way. Delight in every slice and sliver, for the critic can give you quite a shiver, strengthening the piece by slimming it down, helping it lose unhealthy pounds. And then put it away for another day, for the critic always wants to play. Allow the piece to take its natural shape, pruning away the excess words, so your true voice can be completely heard. When you feel its finally done – now, it’s time to show someone! For stories are meant to be shared, somewhere in there, a truth is bared. 

© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, Angela Dawn MacKay 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Broccoli Apple Smoothies: A Tale of High Expectations

   I have a confession to make: I don't really like broccoli. Not really. I mean, I eat it and all – I'm vegetarian, and so I'm supposed to eat vegetables, but do I like broccoli? No, I don't. Not at all.
   But I do try to like it.
   Like a little kid, I tried to disguise its bitterness, cloaking it with a ton of apples and some soy milk, and grinding it up small into tiny green pieces, so many tiny green pieces that they lost their distinct broccoli shape and texture. But no, ground-up-smothered-in-apples-and-soy broccoli is still as bad as plain old broccoli. Yuck!
   But I promised myself, as I experimented with the recipe, adding soy milk and vanilla whey protein all on my own, that no matter how bad it tasted, I was going to drink it. And drink it, I am.
   I am taking a sip every sentence or two, my face grimacing with every swig, my stomach revolting to the hopeful combination I created.
   Why am I doing this, you might ask? The answer is… I don't know. I had high expectations, I guess. I dreamed of a way I could enjoy broccoli goodness without experiencing broccoli badness. There, I thought, this recipe is it! This is a way I can eat broccoli and enjoy, transforming the broccoli experience from bitterness to bliss – apples make everything better right?
    I haven't had a sip since the last paragraph – I am afraid to drink more. …
   Why do I keep going, you ask? The answer is…I don't know. A part of me keeps hoping it will get better, that I will get used to it and I'll be able to experience broccoli bliss after all.
    I guess I feel committed, like I SHOULD drink it – it's good for me, that it's a waste if I don't drink it, there are starving children in Africa.…
    I just took another sip, my whole body shuddered in response.
    Ahhhhh, now I know what the problem is – I just can't let go of the dream, the dream that one day I could guzzle broccoli smoothies like I guzzle chai lattes. It's time to face reality – this broccoli smoothie is just no good!
    And so I am about to do something bold and brave, indeed. I am going to sit and ask myself if I want to drink my curdled concoction. And the answer is a resounding No! No – I do not want to drink this broccoli apple smoothie! No, I don't. I will not drink it with a fox and I will not drink it in a box …
    But I am still hungry! So now what do I want? Ummm, I know… I'll eat banana as I make a broccoli omelet, smothering the vegetable in question in loads of curry powder, butter, and feta. Hmmm, maybe I am still chasing the dream of broccoli bliss.
Hmmm… So much for letting go and accepting things as they are…

© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, Angela Dawn MacKay