Monday Morning Musings on Transformation

In my recent post “Transformation Is Always Possible” I shared the following passage from Zen Buddhist Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm:

“Sorrow, fear, and depression are like a kind of garbage. But these bits of garbage are part of real life, and we must look deeply into their nature. We can practice so as to turn these bits of garbage into flowers. We should not throw anything out. All we have to do is learn the art of composting, of transforming our garbage into flowers. In the practice of Buddhism, we see that all mental formations — including compassion, love, fear, sorrow, and despair — are organic in nature. We don’t need to be afraid of any of them, because transformation is always possible. With just a smile and mindful breathing, we can start to transform them.”

Well, my first musing this morning is about my review of November in my journal and calendar… Even though in the midst of my challenges I feel as though I am failing miserably, when I read through my journal I could see how much progress I am actually making, in working more skillfully with reactions, and in transforming negative thinking into positive thinking. And, I could see my strength, perseverance, grit, and mettle.

When I finished the review, I wrote, “I am feeling the flowers growing up out of the garbage! Even though it was still hard, November had so much goodness and it was much better than the previous three months!”

Dear reader, how was the month of November for you? Do you regularly take notes in a journal or calendar? Do you take time to reflect on your intentions, and celebrate your successes along the way?

My next musing is about how Gratitude is a potent tool for transformation… I really stepped up my gratitude practices in November, and I could really feel the results in a very tangible way. With each hardship that appeared, I consciously practiced feeling grateful for all the blessings in my life, and I came to the realization that for me, all roads lead to Gratitude!

As December begins, I intend to continue practicing the art of transformation… So my last musing for today is about my keywords for this new month. I pray that my “garbage” can be transformed into the flowers of Happiness, Holiness, Peace, and Joy! ~

~ Happiness ~ One of my current affirmations is “I am choosing to be happy, even when I feel tired or sick.”

~ Holiness ~ In this winter holiday season, I intend to look even more deeply into everything, so as to see the hidden holiness and to feel the absolute sacredness of life.

~ Peace ~ Imagining a very quiet place in nature, covered with pure white snow, I intend to generate the energy of Peace in myself and to send that energy of Peace out into the Universe.

~ Joy! ~ In his book Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm, Zen Buddhist Master Thich Nhat Hanh draws this slight distinction between happiness and joy: “In the joy there’s still a little bit of excitement. Happiness is a more peaceful feeling, like contentment.” ~ So, in addition to choosing to be happy, I am also choosing to be joyful!

Beloved readers… May your December be Happy and Joyful!

Do you have any keywords for December?

With hope, positivity, and joy,
Sister Teja

 

Dahlia photo by S. Hermann & F. Richter on Pixabay.

 

Transformation Is Always Possible

What does the word “magic” mean to you?

One of my keywords for this month of November was Magic, and in my post “Monday Morning Musings from a Living Starbird” I wrote that I was really needing to experience some magic in my life again… What I meant by “magic” was something out of the ordinary that sparks an unusual quality of joy and fascination.

Well, many wonderful things happened this month, such as my younger son Gabe visiting us, and there was a lot to be grateful for… And yet, I still hadn’t experienced anything that felt like magic to me… until a few days ago… I was sitting at my altar singing the daily prayers, and I began crying over a deep grief in my heart… I prayed for help with the sorrow, and right then I looked down at the book I had just finished reading, Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm by Zen Buddhist Master Thich Nhat Hanh, and I felt inspired to ask for guidance through the book.

Do you ever use books as tools for guidance? It is a very simple practice that you can do with any book. Just ask a question, then open to a page and let your eyes naturally fall somewhere on the page. Read that section and contemplate how it might contain some wisdom that relates to your question.

So, when I picked up the book, I asked for guidance with the grief that I fear will never heal… And I opened to this section:

“Sorrow, fear, and depression are like a kind of garbage. But these bits of garbage are part of real life, and we must look deeply into their nature. We can practice so as to turn these bits of garbage into flowers. We should not throw anything out. All we have to do is learn the art of composting, of transforming our garbage into flowers. In the practice of Buddhism, we see that all mental formations — including compassion, love, fear, sorrow, and despair — are organic in nature. We don’t need to be afraid of any of them, because transformation is always possible. With just a smile and mindful breathing, we can start to transform them.”

Finally a bit of magic!

Dear reader, I was so amazed when I read that paragraph! Can you even believe how perfect it was? I was especially fascinated by “transformation is always possible,” because my question was essentially about whether or not the grief could ever heal… In total awe, I said aloud, “Thank you, my Deepest Self, for leading me to seek that guidance.”

Can you feel the magic in this story?

With gratitude and a joyful mind,
Sister Teja

 

Photo of Autumn flowers by Alicja on Pixabay.

 

A Death Bell Tolled…

Several years ago, when I was leading weekly healing circles in Ashland, Oregon, in the Autumn when the leaves were decaying on the Earth I got stuck on the theme of death for many weeks. After about six weeks of readings and meditations on death, those who attended the circles began to wonder if I would ever stop talking about death!

In the Northern Hemisphere now, the trees are growing more bare each moment. As I write, the wind is swirling dried brown leaves through the air outside my window. The cold white sky invites me to turn inward and to contemplate reality. It seems that just yesterday the trees were filled with bright green leaves, but now they are emptying, like we all will have to do when our death time arrives.

Recently I came across my youngest brother’s college textbook, The Last Dance: Encountering Death and Dying, and I skimmed it to find a few jewels. Today I will share one… When describing the death rituals in America in the nineteenth century, the authors (DeSpelder and Strickland) say that in close-knit communities, a death bell tolled the age of the deceased, to notify the people. I found this totally fascinating:

“You can feel the silence pass over the community as all activity is stopped and the number of rings is counted. One, two, three — it must be the Myer’s baby that has the fever. No, it’s still tolling — four, five, six. There is another pause at twenty — could that be Molly Shields? Her baby is due at any time now — no, it’s still tolling. Will it never stop? Thirty-eight, thirty-nine, another pause — who? It couldn’t be Ben; he was here just yesterday; said he was feeling fit as a fiddle — no, it’s starting again. Seventy, seventy-one, seventy-two. Silence. You listen, but there is no sound — only silence. Isaac Tipton. He has been ailing for two weeks now. It must be Isaac.”

Dear reader, how did you feel when reading that passage? Can you even imagine living in such a community?

The way we think about death affects the way we live our lives. Are you comfortable thinking about death? When you walk on decaying brown leaves, can you feel the inter-connectedness of life and death?

Contemplating death helps us to happy up, because it reminds us that we are alive right now in this present moment, and we can enjoy life so much, even during difficult times.

What are you enjoying right now? What do you feel grateful for? Are you loving yourself fully today?

With reverence for life and death,
Sister Teja

 

Photo by Shelby Deeter on Unsplash.

 

Monday Morning Musings on Gratitude

Who remembers the Bob Marley song “Three Little Birds”??? ~ “Rise up this morning, Smile with the rising sun, Three little birds, Pitched by my doorstep, Singing sweet songs…”

And do you recall what those little birds were saying? They were singing, “Don’t worry ’bout a thing, ‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right.” (You can enjoy the song here: Three Little Birds.)

My first musing this morning is about how much I love the bird beings. Do you also love birds? It seems to me that they have a pretty wonderful existence, since they are able to soar through the skies of this beautiful planet. Listening to birds sing brings such joy to my mind. Even if I am feeling sad, hearing the birds brings a smile of gratitude to my heart. How do you feel when you hear birdsong?

Certain things, like birds singing, just naturally evoke a feeling of gratitude, which is wonderful because gratitude lights up neural networks in the brain, and then the brain releases the feel-good neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin, which bring feelings of love, happiness, and contentment! Did you know that a bird’s singing can literally light up your brain and make you feel better? The human brain is so fascinating! This musing leads me to feel the mind-blowing inter-connectedness of Everything. Can you feel it also?

So… This week is Thanksgiving week in the U.S., but all humans on Earth should cultivate gratitude every week! Consciously practicing gratitude 365 days per year strengthens those neural pathways that help us to happy up long-term!

Gratitude also strengthens the immune system, relieves anxiety and depression, and increases positivity, inspiration, and motivation.

And, my next musing is about how Gratitude generates the energy of Love. When we feel grateful for something, we naturally feel love for that something. Gratitude and Love arise together, like the two wings of the same bird. You can’t separate them. So, a few years ago I went through a phase on Facebook in which I created posts that were like gratitude lists, but instead of saying “I’m grateful” I said “iLove”…

For example: “iLove amethyst crystals, iLove Sunshine, iLove hot black coffee, iLove Gabe, iLove Zak, iLove Mom & Dad, iLove chanting, iLove barefoot hiking, iLove blogging” and so on! Obviously it was a play on Apple’s “i” everything, and I thought it was pretty witty though I’m not sure anyone else appreciated the wit like I did! Oh well, at least I enjoyed the process! 🙂

So, dear readers, are you feeling inspired now to make a gratitude list? If so, please visit my Gratitude~Up Community Page, where you can share your gratefulness 24/7…

I hope you enjoyed reading this morning’s musings. I sure enjoyed writing them!

May you feel the Love of the Gratitude Vibration!

With much gratitude and love,
Sister Teja

 

Photo by MabelAmber on Pixabay.

 

StarFire Friday Blessing: May You Embody Gentleness

 

May you feel the warmth of the divine sparks within you.

May you cultivate gratefulness for the small joys of your life.

May your weekend be blessed with kindness.

May you embody gentleness.

 

Colorful Autumn photo by MabelAmber on Pixabay.