Category Archives: Mindfulness

Life is a TARDIS

For months–well, years, to be honest–I’ve been meaning to visit West 11th Street Park. I felt some kind of neighborly, good-citizen obligation to visit this park. Somehow my usual enthusiasm for urban parks became a compulsion in this case. I wanted to like it.

I have a strange passion for urban parks. I love the idea of connecting with nature in the midst of the city. Providing trees for a healthier atmosphere. Allowing just a little bit of signBannernature to have its own space. The natural world was here a long time before we showed up to pave it over.

The reason I took so long to check out this park is that it looks predictable from the outside. It’s on a square bit of land, a few blocks in length on each side. You can see two sides from each street corner; it takes just a minute to drive around it.

I’ve heard about the park for years. It seems like a noble gesture on the part of a handful of citizens to preserve this land and prevent development when property values are skyrocketing.

From the outside it appears like a mostly undeveloped, densely wooded park, but it’s mowed along the perimeter, so there’s plenty of oOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERApen space for throwing balls of various sorts, playing with dogs, having a picnic.

I must confess I’m often shy to walk by myself when people are around, even though my body craves exercise. I prefer nature hikes to speed walking, and I really love to walk and talk, especially with my husband, but he’s often not interested. Sometimes I feel self-conscious, and talk myself into staying in the car. I wonder if I’m somehow wrong, as I project onto imagined others their judgment of me: maybe the residents don’t like people parking along their street to visit the park. Or maybe I’m just easily, painfully embarrassed.

Earlier this week I walked into the park for the first time. Today was the second time. I was wrong. W. 11th Street Park is small on the outside, but it’s another world on the inside.

On the British TV series Doctor Who, the Doctor calls his time-traveling spaceship a TARDIS (short for Time And Relative Dimension in Space). You enter the spaceship by stepping into a British police box. A police box is not much larger than a phone booth, which we don’t see in Houston any more. Basically, it’s very small. Upon entering through the door of the police box, you discover the vast interior of a spaceship.

In that respect, I experienced W. 11th Street Park as a TARDIS. Entering it, you step into another world.DSC_1

You can enter from any of several gravel trails and smaller grassy trails around the square of woods. Once you’re inside, the trails crisscross each other so often that when it’s cloudy, like today, I temporarily lost my sense of direction. It’s densely wooded, and the trails curve around so much that you can’t see what’s around the corner. The dead trees are allowed to stay and decompose, to a great extent, in order to maintain that circle of life thing. Wildflowers and native trees thrive.

It’s apparent that the Friends of West 11th Street Park have worked hard for years to provide a rich urban-park experience. There’s even a cell phone tour with 18 stops.

The TARDIS park was active today. Because the sky was overcast, birds and small creatures came out of hiding. I startled a large pileated woodpecker–flashes of white when it spread its wings, and a vivid red head. (There are six species of woodpecker in the park.) I spotted two brown rabbits on opposite sides of the park who were surprised by my movement. (I didn’t expect brown rabbits. I’m sure readers will inform me they’re as common as possums in Houston, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen them in the city before. In the middle of the day, no less.)

I practiced a bit of aimless wandering–walking without a goal, choosing which path to take without much thought, noticing thoughts and feelings without being directed by them. Listening, just listening, I heard distantDSC_10 knocking that drew my eyes upward. Way up, probably a hundred feet up, another woodpecker hammered its beak into the side of a dead pine tree. Its tail feathers, firmly bracing the bird against the tree for balance, supported the concussing percussion.

It’s a shame that I thought I could predict the experience of this “small” park.

I think it’s a common human failing that we need to make things small. Perhaps ego feels more important or substantial, or more in control. We shrink the world with assumptions and categories, contain it with concepts, and turn it into something completely predictable. We’re so quick to pass up opportunities based on first impressions.

This is the old “can’t judge a book by its cover” phenomenon. Does ego reduce the significance of an experience by labeling it with a cliché?

When we relax ego’s habit of drawing conclusions and dismissing possibilities, and we replace that mental overactivity with relaxed, open curiosity–the world gets bigger. Much bigger.

(Warning: Objects in mirror are more interesting than they appear.)

I’ve heard adults boast that they tell their kids, “Life is fascinating. If you think things are boring, you’re boring.” That always sounded mean to me, but I think the intention is a good one: to inspire kids, teens, young adults, to wake up to life. But there’s something missing in the delivery that defeats its own purpose.  It would be better to demonstrate what curiosity looks like. Show how you uniquely relish everything that life offers. Be what you would like them to become.

We often say that people are more interesting than they might first appear. We remind ourselves that, “Everyone is fighting a hard battle.” We say this referring to people we don’t know.ts

The funny thing is, we can also say this of the people we think we know best. I find it helpful to remind myself that my husband is greater than the sum of my conceptions about him.

Everyone is a TARDIS.

I can’t wait to get back to my park.

(Source of photos: http://www.west11thstreetpark.org/ and http://www.ask.com/wiki/TARDIS?o=2801&qsrc=999&ad=doubleDown&an=apn&ap=ask.com)

The Bardo of Waiting

I wrote an email to a friend this morning:

I am getting familiar with that in-between, waiting, confused, gap experience. I’m waiting on biopsy results myself–results are due Tuesday. My health over the last year has been one thing after another, since I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis a year ago.

There’s a word for this waiting place from Tibetan Buddhism–bardo. A bardo is a state where we’re leaving something familiar, and the next stage hasn’t fully revealed itself. It’s the most uncomfortable, potentially terrifying place to be. It requires the utmost kindness, gentleness, a light touch of awareness, and an approach of grounding, one-step-at-a-time, and appreciation for the present moment. Continue reading

Saving your Saturdays

wpid-2012-11-12_14-45-44_163.jpgI have greatly neglected the ADHD arena on this blog. Those who know me will find that just a bit ironic, since I are one. So I’m bringing it up again now, but making it easier on myself by sharing a website that does an excellent job of covering a lot of ADHD-related territory.

If you don’t know FlyLady, I am happy to introduce you here. Find reassuring and practical advice for getting a handle on clutter, kindly developing habits that help you get and stay organized, and feeling better about yourself in the process.

The topic of “Saving Your Saturday” resonates with me because I, too, somehow grew up with the habit of postponing chores. For many years, I would tell friends at work that “this weekend I’m getting organized.” Someone finally said to me, “You said that last weekend!”

Continue reading

My wish for you

You have strengths you don’t know you have. You can be kind to yourself, and on that basis you can be kind to others. Know that the worries you carry can be set down.

My wish for you is that you be free from suffering, anxiety, fear, sickness, emotional upheaval, discord, and financial obstacles.  Continue reading

Finding your motivation for meditation

Why do you want to meditate?

Meditation practice isn’t easy. It goes against the grain of our habitual patterns. So it is very important to be clear with yourself: why do you want to sit still, doing nothing? Continue reading

No time like the present

There are several meanings of the phrase “no time like the present.” Conventionally, it means “do it now.” While you’re thinking about it, don’t put it off, whatever “it” happens to be.

More deeply, we realize that we don’t know how much time we have. We don’t know how much of a future there is in this precious life. Life is unpredictable, and no one has a guaranteed life expectancy. We don’t know if we’ll be too sick, or too overwhelmed with some other form of suffering in our lives. If something is meaningful for you, and you are capable of doing it, pursue it now while you can. Express your appreciation for your life through your choices.

Even more profoundly, when you start to pay attention, you realize that the future is a fantasy, and the past is fleeting memory. Past and future live in our imagination, but we’re only alive now. There actually is no other time than the present.

Episode 2 – Meditation

Meditation Instruction
The Windhorse Podcast – episode 2

Hi, friends. Meditation is a very simple and brief introduction to meditation practice. More to come in future episodes.

I’m committed to keeping these recordings brief, so you can take a break from your daily activity and just listen. So, it isn’t recommended for listening to while you’re driving, or doing anything else, really. Can you give yourself 10 minutes?

Practice these instructions, post your questions  by commenting below, and keep an eye out for the next installment.

Cheers,

Celeste

The Windhorse Podcast, episode 1: Pausing

Pausing
The Windhorse Podcast – episode 1

Here’s my broadcast on Pausing.

I added an intro to the recording, hopefully to communicate a more welcoming attitude! I learned a lot about podcast software. This first recording starts out sounding a bit stiff; the technology is still a little distracting for me. But I think it may be helpful to folks. Please post your comments and questions here.

Enjoy,

Celeste

The beauty of pausing

Hello, friends. Take a moment to stop all activity. Breathe. Feel the ground under your feet. Open your senses.

I’m working on some recordings that I will be posting to the blog very soon. The first one is about the value of pausing in our busy lives.

My daily reality is a reminder of humility. I have a tight budget – I have to wait until pay day to afford to upgrade my blog to allow recordings. I have the time and the inclination today to focus on this, but who knows when the stars will align to support my working on this again. I’m hoping by this weekend, if not before.

Pause. Breathe. Be glad you’re alive.

I wish you a wonderful day. Back soon.

Celeste

An owner’s manual for your brain – and your happiness

Some of Dr. Rick Hanson’s writings feel like what I would have liked to have written. Now I don’t have to! Visit his website and blog for rich resources on how to understand the brain and work with that understanding in practical ways.

Seven Facts about the Brain That Incline the Mind to Joy – a very readable pdf article that will motivate you to pay more attention to positive experiences.

Dr. Rick Hanson – his website

Your Wise Brain – his blog on Psychology Today