Tag Archives: Inner Peace

AWAKENING TO OUR COMFORT

“People need to rediscover the ability to find comfort amidst discomfort.  It is only while enduring discomfort that we find solutions.”  Hanno Langenhoven

Have you found any comfort during this discomforting time?  How did you look for it?  What form did it take?

Most of us are definitely looking for comfort during this crazy, scary time.  The things that may usually have made us feel good like going to the movies, seeing a play, or shopping downtown in the crowds aren’t possible in many places.  In other ways, they aren’t wise things to do even if they are still possible.

Creating New Events

I definitely had to adjust my birthday celebration this week to be safe during the pandemic.  No eating out at an elegant restaurant with friends or attending some kind of entertainment event.  Even hiking in the woods was taken off the list because of problems with my hip joint.  Instead my husband and I drove up to Mt. Mitchell to see the fall leaves at many stages on the mountains.  Near the top, the leaves had already dropped, leaving only the dark green fir.

We took a little walk outside in the sun at the top of the mountain with a light cool breeze blowing.  There were no tables around and too many people so we ate lunch in the car, enjoying chicken salad, vegetable salad, and cookies.  Simple and delicious.  After coming down the mountain, we picked up gluten free crab cakes for dinner.

My husband cooked the meal and did the dishes.  Then we watched  two episodes of “Everwood” on Amazon Prime, laughing about how crazy the two main characters are who are doctors.  When we crawled into bed, I felt flooded with love for my dear partner.  Just being with him had made it the best birthday ever.

Creating Comfort From Discomfort

We had just done simple things during the day that gave us pleasure.  It’s true of course that we have had to rediscover what gives us pleasure. We’ve also had to adjust what we consider comfortable in relation to the virus.  In other words, “to find comfort amidst discomfort.”

We don’t like living with limitations but they push us to be more creative.  I have a friend who is an artist and is taking an online painting class rather than the face-to-face class she usually takes.  The paintings she is creating are amazing and beautiful! Every day when I go on Facebook she has posted another beauty.  Isolation has certainly not restricted her creativity.

Artist: Carol Czeczot – www.blackmountainartist.com

In order to find the comfort hiding beneath the limitations, we may have to decide to find pleasure in the simple things of life that we often overlook.  When I was single and living alone, I often was not with friends on Saturday nights.  Many of my friends were married and spending Saturday with their mates or family.

Without family nearby, I had to comfort myself.  When I felt lonely, I would take a hot shower, fix a hot cup of tea or cocoa, put on my pajamas and crawl in bed with a good book.  Pampering myself was nurturing and a way to love myself.

Circumstances force us to look beyond the obvious and become more creative with solutions to problems that have had us stuck in one frame of mind.  Being open to unexpected and unusual possibilities may well be the key to turning our discomforts into satisfying outcomes.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles:

AWAKENING TO LIGHT THE DARKNESS

AWAKENING TO IMPROVISE OUR LIVES

AWAKENING TO THE VALUE OF CHANGE

 

 

 

AWAKENING TO OUR MYSTERIES

“I think on some level, you do your best things when you’re a little off-balance, a little scared.  You’ve got to work from mystery, from wonder, from not knowing.”  Daniel Dafoe

How do you feel about a mystery in your life?  Does it frighten you?  Does it ever reveal a new way to see your life?

Fall is always a reminder that times are changing.  For a while it is lovely with the colorful flowers and multicolored leaves on the trees.  The intense heat of summer has subsided and the air is cool and perfect for outdoor hikes with just a sweater or light coat.  For a while the mountains startle us with vivid colors like a Van Gogh painting.

And then – things drop away.  The flowers and leaves turn brown and fall.  The squirrels stuff themselves with acorns and pack more up for winter.  All of nature prepares for rest during the winter in order to return in the spring renewed.

Not only is nature in transition, humans are as well.  We are living through a mysterious time, daily discovering that our country is not what we thought it was, that our government may no longer be “for the people.”  Our health is threatened by a mysterious illness that infects equally and we have no cure.

A Time of Letting Go

Creation Spirituality, a spiritual community created by Matthew Fox, divides the year into four areas.  This time of year is known as the Via Negativa, a time of mystery, of letting go, of emptying, of sitting in the shadow, and experiencing the dark night of the soul.

Like the trees and flowers, it is a time to rest and renew our lives for the coming of spring and new life.  It is a time to explore who we really are in this time of change.  We may take the time to let the mysteries of our lives open to us.

What do we need to let go of?  Many people are cleaning out their closets and garages, letting go of things they no longer need:  books they’ll never read again, clothes they’ve outgrown, furniture that is broken, or tools they never use.  In my community there is a website where people post the free things they want to give away and the list is endless and surprising at times.

Looking Within

But letting go of physical things is the easy part.  Looking at our inner mysteries is more challenging.  Who are we really?  Even before the pandemic, were we living the life we really wanted?  Are we uncomfortable having to stay home most of the time because our family relationships are difficult?

When we experience a dark night of the soul, we often feel we are trapped in a shadow and have no idea how to find the light.  But this is the time when we must look inside and ask, “Who am I?”  Are we living who we really are?  While that may feel terribly uncomfortable at times, it may also lead us to discover parts of ourselves that are shut down and what we need to do to become more complete.

When I had to move from New Orleans, away from the rest of my family, it was not a choice I really wanted to make.  If I wanted to heal my Chronic Fatique Syndrome, I had to go to a dry climate, so I chose Albuquerque where I did have one New Orleans friend who had moved there.

We Are One With Spirit

During my time there, I discovered Religious Science church that became my spiritual home.  It was based on the science of mind philosophy, the belief that God is one with us and all that is.  The energy we create and express affects others, and what we express comes back to us.  Being part of a loving community and practicing this spiritual belief helped heal more than my body.

There have been many moments in my life when I felt depressed or confined by my circumstances.  As a single woman, making enough money to pay the bills was also a challenge.  Not being in a relationship for many years was a challenge.  Dealing with continuing health challenges that limited what I could eat was a challenge.

Lighting the Dark Within

Learning to adjust my thinking and meditate taught me that closing my eyes, moving into the darkness, could open me to the light within.  In that place, I could find peace and let the negative thinking and feelings drop away.  Clearing space within for the light to appear often brought solutions to problems I would never have “thought” of.

Many times, as I sit quietly, lie in bed dozing off, or just as I wake, a new thought presents itself.  What it means may be a total mystery.  Thinking about it may or may not reveal its meaning.  When I’m mystified, I write the thought down just as I do if I wake remembering a dream, knowing that if it is important, its relevance will be revealed later.

While we learn who we are by being with other people, by working or playing, it is our alone time when the deepest mysteries can open us to the deepest solutions.  Spirit is with us in those moments if we are willing to sit with the mystery.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

DANCING TO THE MYSTERY OF LIFE

AWAKENING TO LIGHT THE DARKNESS

AWAKENING TO THE LIGHT

 

AWAKENING TO LEARN FROM NATURE

      “Adopt the pace of nature.  Her secret    is patience.”  Emerson

How often are you in nature?  How do you feel there?  What do you most love about nature?

We are not currently living in a time when it is easy to be patient.  We all want things to return to normal.  We want to work again, visit friends and relatives, eat out for dinner, or visit an art festival.  When we are feeling irritable or anxious, nature can offer us some peace and help us find the patience we need to slow down.

Once I’m in nature, tension drops away.  It’s affected me that way as long as I can remember because I spent a lot of time in the forests of Arkansas as I grew up.  Hiking and swimming in streams were two of my family’s favorite outings and as a kid I thought this activity was fun.

Now, stepping into the forest or my shady backyard takes me to a peaceful place immediately.  So today, I’m offering you a different kind of blog post—one with photos of natural scenes I’ve observed, and I do include animals as a part of nature.  I hope this experience will bring you peace and laughter.

What is Suz hunting for?

Suz is snoozing. “Don’t bother me!”

Owen Lake

Ducks at Owen Lake

The beauty of nature

Neighborhood bear family enjoying our dinner of acorns.

Very rude squirrel eating dinner on St. Francis’s head.

Giant mushroom tent

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO WILDNESS, ONE WITH NATURE, Part 2

AWAKENING TO THE GIFTS OF SOLITUDE

AWAKENING TO STILLNESS

 

 

AWAKENING TO WALK IN BEAUTY

 How do you create beauty in your life?  Is it external or internal?  How does it make you feel?

Navajo Prayer

In beauty may I walk.

All day long may I walk.

Through the returning seasons may I walk.

Beautifully will I possess again

Beautiful birds …

Beautiful joyful birds …

On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.

With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk.

With dew about my feet may I walk.

With beauty before me, behind me,

   above me, all around me may I walk.

In old age wandering on a trail of beauty lively, may I walk

It is finished in beauty.

It is finished in beauty.

In the mountains of North Carolina, walking in beauty is the simplest thing one can do.  Surrounded by luscious green trees and abundant colorful flowers, nature is vibrant in the spring, summer, and fall.  Even when those of us who live here feel bored or depressed, a walk in the forest can lift us up.

The Physical Gifts Of Nature

We have become a culture surrounded by things.  We fill our homes with paintings, nick-knacks, computers, and lovely objects so that we feel at home with the memories they invoke and they communicate to others who we are and what our status is.

Years ago, when I was living alone and making little money as a teacher, I couldn’t afford anything I didn’t absolutely need.  Despite that, I needed to make my apartment feel like my home, so I decorated it with the only things I could afford – items from nature and cheap containers.  I found bird feathers in the yard.  At the beach, there were piles of colorful shells, and as I hiked in the mountains, I gathered small rocks and quartz.

Although my home is now a house full of purchased items, paintings, posters, and artsy clay bowls, I use the baskets I bought in Africa to display my rocks and shells, pine cones and bird feathers.  I especially appreciate these beauties on a winter day when there is snow on the ground and I’ve been cooped up too long.  Their beauty and the remembrance of the joy I felt in finding them brightens my day.

When spring and summer come, they offer us more natural beauties, such as the brilliant blue hydrangeas, golden black-eyed Susan’s, vivid purple iris, and multiple colors of roses.  Not only may we enjoy these when we are out-of-doors, we can pick them and liven the house with their fragrance and beauty.

Many people also plant flowers and vegetables this time of year, but what else are we planting, especially in our minds?

When life becomes especially challenging, we can become rooted in its negative aspects to the point that we become depressed or unable to function well.  At this time, we need to remember that this pain can be relieved to some extent like physical pain.  When our body aches, we may do the easy thing and take a medication or supplement that soothes the discomfort, but nature can be a healing remedy too.

The Healing Gift of Mother Nature

When life becomes a mental or emotional burden, we may lift that burden or at least lessen it by walking in beauty and taking in the gifts it offers.  We may step outside to let bright sun warm and wash us with it’s golden light.  At sunset, we can drive to the parkway and watch the sun splash brilliant orange and red behind the darkening mountains.  Or we may choose to walk barefoot over the grass in the yard or a park and feel the precious earth supporting us from below.

By feeding our senses with beauty and being in the moment to see, smell, and feel the gifts of nature, it becomes easier to return to caring for a sick child or parent, struggling with low finances, or settling for only virtual access to our friends and relatives.  Walking in nature’s beauty can help heal the insecurity we feel and restore the joy we have momentarily lost.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles:  

The first article here is about my dear friend Jerry who passed away in 2018.  Of all the people I’ve know he was the one who lived closest with nature.

AWAKENING TO WILDNESS, ONE WITH NATURE, Part 2

AWAKENING FROM THE HEART

DANCING FROM OUR CENTERS

 

 

AWAKENING TO OUR REALITY

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”  William Arthur Ward

How do you usually react to new situations?  Do you tend to resist, ignore, or adjust to an event or condition you don’t like?  What works best for you?

I often think of myself as an optimist.  Years ago, I was very involved with the “think positive” movement, primarily because life was difficult and the many changes in my life often wore me down.  I also learned that much of the negative thinking I did could be released when I learned to release my fears because those fears created the negative thoughts.

All these experiences helped me to get my negative thinking under control, and by seeing life from a more positive perspective, I was a happier person.  But choosing to be an optimist about everything is not always the best choice.

Being A Realist Is Wise

The wisest approach to life is to be a realist and develop the ability to adjust to what is actually occurring because ignoring reality can be harmful.  I once had a friend who was very creative and with whom I did presentations that combined my poetry and her photography.  This was a very powerful creative connection I had not experienced since my earlier years in modern dance and theater and I deeply valued it.

When she became ill, she refused to see a doctor, insisting she would be fine. After many months, her daughter convinced her to face the source of her pain.  When she finally visited the doctor, she discovered she had very advanced cancer that could not be treated.  She died four months later.

I was stunned, heart-broken, and angry.  Having dealt with many illnesses over the years, I had always seen a doctor, even if I dreaded what I thought the answer would be.  I knew that whatever the sickness was, I needed to face it and treat it.  But my friend was not a realist.

Adjusting the Sails of Your Life

Life is not the perfect drama we would like it to be.  There are ups and downs and surprises, but what creates a good life for us is how we deal with the winds that blow through our lives.  None of us would choose to be experiencing a pandemic, especially one that is clearly not going away soon, but it is here, regardless of what we want.

So how can we be realistic and live well during this time?  I strongly suggest listening to the medical experts about wearing a mask, social distancing, and getting tested instead of to a president and his followers who deny these needs exist.  As George Bernard Shaw once said, “Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”

Be a realist and “adjust the sails of your life.”  My husband and I love to go to the movies.  Now we have discovered the PBS series “Poldark” and often watch it when we’re in the “movie” mood.  What is nice about this is that we don’t have to get dressed and spend money.  We can even watch it in our pajamas.

While it would be nice to eat in a restaurant, we can get a pick-up dinner and eat on our deck with a lovely view of the trees and the continual bird song.  For more outdoor pleasures we walk in the neighborhood and around a nearby lake.  We can visit and see friends faces on Zoom. These choices are not what we prefer, but they are the wise, realistic ones.

Being Realistic May Include Some Optimism

While being a realist makes sense and can safe-guard us during these particularly challenging days, being optimistic at times may also be helpful.  It’s better to hope than to become depressed about the worst.  It is worthwhile to consider what is needed for us to accomplish the goals we hope to pursue when restrictions ease.

What research might we undertake about the degree we want to get, the trip we desire to take, the job we hope to receive or the skills we wish to develop?  Even if we can’t pursue such things right now, we will learn what preparation we need and if we can begin any of that work now. We also may discover that there are other choices we overlooked which are more appealing.

With a willingness to adjust our sails, we may find the path we truly need to take to a destination where the sailing is smoother.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles:

AWAKENING TO GOOD DECISIONS

AWAKENING TO RELEASE OUR FEAR

AWAKENING TO ACCEPT REALITY

 

 

 

 

AWAKENING TO OUR STRENGTH

“Strength does not come from winning.  Your struggles develop your strengths.  When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”  Arnold Schwarzenegger

What part of you is the strongest? The Inner? The Outer? Which helps you to face what appears to be the impossible?

All the children of my nephews and niece are active in sports: soccer, gymnastics, basketball, and anything else that catches their eyes.  I’m so happy for them because physical activity was absent from most of my childhood due to many illnesses and a heart murmur.  When I began to play a little baseball, it was a huge challenge.

We Win When We Don’t give Up

I suspect most sports participants know what Arnold means about struggles and hardships.  It isn’t always easy to become good enough to be on a team, especially a professional one.  It requires years of dedication, losing many times, and struggling to overcome our weaknesses.  It isn’t the physical strength that always makes us the winners.  We win when we don’t give up.

This is certainly one of those times when we are experiencing many struggles: how to survive without a job and income, how to work and stay safe from the virus, how to keep the right distance when we shop for food even when others don’t do so.  It’s a long list and dealing with all these challenges may depress us and make us want to stop trying to take care of ourselves.

But as Arnold reminds us, when we decide not to surrender, we struggle to go on and find our strength and that is what sustains us through this pandemic and the major challenges of life.  The only winner we need to be in this situation is the one that goes on making our lives the best we can under the circumstances, letting our struggles feed us with resolve.

How To Deal With Our Challenges

So how do we do this?  I think Francis of Assisi has some good advice.  “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

Now, just doing what’s necessary can be challenging because so many stores are closed and even food markets don’t always have what we need.  This week, two of the vegetables we get every week were so bad they weren’t worth taking home, but they were the only ones the grocery could get.  To stay healthy, we need to eat vegetables every day, so if the fresh aren’t available, we’ll have to eat the canned or frozen ones.

If we have a problem with our backs and need acupuncture or massage, we’re taking a risk even if we find a practioner who will do the work.  Otherwise, we pull out the heating pad or massager at home.  If we need to see a doctor, it will probably be a telehealth connection, definitely not the normal experience.

When what we usually do can’t be done, we have to consider what is possible and perhaps be more creative like some of the people who are creating vegetable gardens in their yards.  It’s more challenging for those who aren’t urban farmers or who live in a high-rise although some apartments do have gardens on the building’s roof.

In some instances, it simply isn’t possible to get what we want or need, so obtaining the impossible isn’t always about doing.  Just accepting the reality can make us stronger, and not letting disappointment become depression that takes over our lives.

We Must Rely On Inner Strength

The strength that will sustain us through difficult times lies within us.  When we face a disappointment, it is wise to take a deep breath, meditate, find the stillness within, and remind ourselves that essentially we are fine.  In that stillness we find the light within that allows us to accept the situation or that presents a solution that has not occurred to us.

Years ago when I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatique Syndrome and told I had to stop eating gluten and dairy, that seemed impossible.  There was virtually no prepared food like that and anything baked had to be made from scratch. Despite the challenge, that diet became my norm. Because I chose to do what was difficult,  that decision  resulted in good health.

Many necessary changes in life are not easy, but when we find we can make those changes, other changes seem more possible.  We simply need to embrace the seemingly impossible and refuse to surrender.  Therein lies our strength.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO THE POWER WITHIN

AWAKENING TO ACCEPTANCE

AWAKENING TO STILLNESS

AWAKENING TO STILLNESS

“Learning how to be still, to really be still and let life happen—that stillness becomes a radiance.” Morgan Freeman

What effect does constant activity or noise have on you?  Are you able to find any stillness in your day?  How does a time of stillness  help you?

I’m always amazed by the thoughts that appear when I find a new quote to use for my blog post.  Of course, the first thing that came to mind as I read this quote was meditation and how, as the meditation deepens, it feels like my energy is expanding radiantly.

But the second image that appeared this morning was a medieval castle surrounded by a moat.  What could that possibly have to do with life now?  The answer appeared quickly.  The castles were surrounded by moats in order to make it more difficult for the enemies of the people who lived there to attack them.

Living there was also a kind of isolation from the world around them.  There may have been many people who lived there, including perhaps a king and queen, but the walls defined a limited area where they could be active.  I also suspect that the coronavirus is less predictable than the medieval enemies who could be seen from the high towers approaching from miles away.

How Confinement Affects Us

While most of us don’t live in a castle, we are confined to our houses and apartments, most of which are not huge or built on a large expanse of land.  These spaces can feel very confining. At least here in the mountains, those people who live close to forest trails where they can walk are fortunate, and the trails are certainly more inspiring than the paved street in front of my house.

Being isolated isn’t always pleasant but it does have some advantages if we choose to acknowledge them.  A friend on Facebook recently posted a picture of herself and her husband smiling and looking extremely happy.  She pointed out that she had been afraid that in the isolation they would be uncomfortable and argue with each other, but in reality, they are more loving than before.

I must admit I had the same fears about my husband and me.  But we have been very loving and peaceful with each other.  Even the amount of corny jokes we share has increased.  We’ve also been busier than we expected with work we have created for ourselves or which is a result of the limit on business because of the virus.

Because we are retired, there is more time to be still, and in that stillness, we may let the anxieties of the day slip away for a while.  Meditation is always a good way to calm ourselves or listening to soothing music.  I often just sit and watch the squirrels in the yard chase each other and fly from tree to tree or walk through the yard to see what new wild flowers have popped up.

The Unknown Makes Us Fearful

It is impossible to know how long our isolation will last so we have to live in the moment.  When we start feeling fearful or angry about it, we could make some bad decisions because these negative emotions lead us to negative thoughts.  Some people think we don’t still need to keep our distance, but going out of our homes is foolish and endangers us and anyone who comes in contact with us because this virus’s symptoms can be very hidden or misleading.

Finding Our Hearts

When we feel fearful, angry, or just frustrated, we most need to take a deep breath, find the stillness, and sit with it until we can release our negative feelings.  In the stillness we can ask for spiritual guidance and the wisdom peace can bring.  This wisdom that comes from deep inside when we are quiet nourishes us in a way nothing else will, for it is not just an activity of the mind.  It is also from the heart.

Finding the stillness within transforms us.  Mary Oliver reminds us of the beauty of   transformation in nature—a transformation that may occur in us as well.

“When the praying mantis opens its wings

it becomes a green flower.”

By opening its wings, the praying mantis becomes more beautiful.  By opening our minds and releasing our fears, we are able to understand how to act from the heart not the head.  When we are in touch with our hearts, we may flower into a stronger person and find a better path through the stillness of isolation.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO SPIRITUAL SURRENDER

AWAKENING TO RELEASE ILLUSIONS

AWAKENING TO NOW

AWAKENING TO REALITY NOW

“I’ve always believed that you can think positive just as well as you can think negative.” James Baldwin

How do you see the current situation?  Does it depress you every day?  Do you ignore what is happening outside your house?  How does it affect your thinking?

The thought comes up several times a day – Is this really happening?  It’s like a bad dream from which I keep hoping I will awaken.  It’s a sunny day, a rarity among the many rainy ones, and I want to walk around the lake, either of the two nearby, but there’s a ban on going to the public parks that surround them.  I feel angry about that.  Isn’t that too extreme?

FACING REALITY

Then I remember.  A public park is where my brother caught polio when he was two years old.  The family was at a church picnic in a large crowd.  Lots of little kids were playing together.  His experience with polio was a tragedy and a miracle.  He was in an iron lung for many weeks and died three times but came back to life each time.  Despite having many surgeries as a child, he grew up to live a productive life, working and doing good in the world.

But not all tragedies are followed by a miracle.  Many children died from polio or were seriously handicapped.  It is always easier to believe bad things will not happen to us.  I suspect at least some of the people who have died from the coronavirus have thought so.

It is always a good thing to be able to think positively, but it’s not good to ignore reality.  So when reality is unpleasant, how can we think positively about it?  Is there something we can learn?  I think so.

FACING INDIVIDUAL REALITY

Perhaps it is easier for me to accept staying at home right now because I’m an introvert and I have a husband who is an interesting companion.  I love to read.  I love to write and that requires staying in.  But staying in may push us to face the need to start spring cleaning early, get back in touch with an old friend, learn to use more technology, communicate with family and friends, meditate to calm our overactive minds, or play more Scrabble with family members.

Of course, if we have been laid off or the business where we work has been closed, we have much more to worry about.  There are far too many people in this country who make little money for full-time work or have to work several part-time jobs to survive.  They are the ones hardest hit by this pandemic.

FINDING ANSWERS WITHIN

So, what can we do to manage the fears that come with this hardship?  We can take time each day to sit quietly, breathe deeply, direct our minds to release our fear, and choose to let it go, flowing outward with each breath.  Sit until the mind is clear, then ask “What do I need to do today?”

Our inner selves know the answer to that question and it may take some time and more than one sitting to hear the answer.  Sometimes we need to be quiet and take the time to find something positive about a situation that we would never notice if we stay “in action” all the time. And when we are dealing with many negatives, the silence may help us see what we need to do given limited circumstances.

Perhaps this event can be the opportunity to deepen and enrich our lives, to look for and experience a positive way of thinking about change that we have rejected in the past.  One thing already clear about this pandemic is how unprepared the country was.  It has brought to light much that needs to be changed.  Perhaps it has also brought things to light that need to be changed in our own lives.  And that is good.  While changing them may be extremely difficult in some instances, we may now have the time to evaluate what we need to do.

Blessings to you all.  Stay safe.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO ACCEPT REALITY

AWAKENING TO RELEASE OUR FEAR

AWAKENING TO BEFRIEND OURSELVES

 

AWAKENING TO OUR DANCE OF LIFE

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.”  Martha Graham

What is your dance of life?  Does it resemble a rumba, waltz, cha-cha, jitter bug or improvisation?

Whatever name you give to your dance, there is only one person like you, and your life is a dance only you can do.  As you dance this life, it may change, redefining who you are on the inside and who you are in the world.

As Graham suggests, we are created by an inner force that is natural and vital, but if we are to create our earthly life from it, we have to become acquainted with it.  It is not always easy to look inside because we are often afraid of what we may find there,some part of ourselves we do not like.

Graham clearly looked inside as she began to create dances for her own company after leaving the Denishawn Company.  The new dances were intense and emotional, as she was, taking this element to a depth never before seen in modern dance.  In the beginning, some people found her work offensive, but her courage to be true to her creative self transformed and broadened modern dance.

Following Our Own Paths

We each follow our own path.  Externally, it may involve working for a corporation, a hospital, a school, or creating our own business, and what we do there may be an expression of our deepest self or it may only be a place to earn money.  When we can combine the two, we are most fortunate.

When I was young, my parents saw my desire to become a modern dancer as foolish.  How could I possibly support myself doing that? Because of my mother’s insistence, I got the credits needed for teacher certification, and I became a teacher while pursuing dance.

As a high school teacher, I discovered I wanted to help empower those students who were not in the main stream.  Looking back on that years later, I realized I was drawn to them because I did not feel I was part of the main stream, so I was not “good enough.”  But when I taught them, this incredible energy within me bubbled up, and helping them empowered me as well.

I also usually danced the dancer’s life along with the teaching life.  I loved the feeling of never knowing what might show up as I began to choreograph a dance because my experience had taught me that when moving or writing creatively, the most amazing and unexpected ideas could show up, ones I would never think of.

Finding Inner Peace and Vitality

The silence of creativity or meditative practices opens us to that place within where our life force can speak to us and lead us to choreograph a new life or expand the one we have to include new steps. Being with nature can also offer us a place where the outer can create peace within.

I know a group of birdwatchers.  Some of them are retired, but some still work and participate in the walks that take them through the forest to observe and name our flying friends.  At other times some of them also participate in slow hikes identifying trees or flowers in order to connect more deeply with nature because this connection with nature is an integral part of who they are.  The dance of nature is their dance.

I know how they feel.  Nature is also a place where I experience deep peace.  Upon entering a forest, I almost immediately drop into a meditative state.  I grew up hiking through the mountains and forests, learning to name the rocks and trees, but while the naming was not my focus, it helped me connect with their energy and beautiful presence.  After I began dancing, the energy of nature stirred up new ideas for dances.

Finding Your Dance Beyond the External

While dance was a huge part of my dance of life for many years, there came a time when the physical demands of the art began to harm my body.  I was frightened.  Who would I be without dance? It was the core of my identity!

It became clear that I needed to go deeper.  Fortunately, before I stopped teaching dance, I had learned to meditate.  It became a regular practice that took me deeper into the heart of my soul, where I discovered the real source of my creativity, not only for dance, but for living.

As I began to visit non-traditional spiritual groups like Science of Mind and Unity churches, I began to learn other ways of connecting with my spirituality and growing my inner life.  I learned, for example, how to release my fear so that it did not control my mind. This exploration led me to a sense of wholeness I had never known.  My dance of life became deeper and richer, undefined by what I did, defined by who I was.

What Is the Core of Your Dance of Life?

Where has your dance of life taken you? How is your life force expressed?  If you remove all the things you have, the titles you hold, the money and work that defines you, your political persuasion, your religious beliefs, what is at the core of your dance of life?

When we are expressing who we truly are, there is a vitality to it.  We’ve all met people whose vitality surrounds them and energizes those who come near them; while their energy enlivens us, we also feel the serenity at their core.  And that is a peace we all need to find in our own dance of life.

© Georganne Spruce

The Martha Graham Company

READINGS:  AWAKENING TO THE LIGHT

AWAKENING TO THE HOME WITHIN

AWAKENING TO THE ONENESS WITHIN

 

MORE THAN MOTHER’S DAY

“Look deep into Nature, and then you will understand everything better.” Albert Einstein

What does Nature mean to you?  Is it part of your spiritual life?  What has it taught you?

This year Mother’s Day fell on a Sunday.  Knowing that would be the sermon topic at church that day, I decided to spend the morning with the only mother I still have, Mother Nature.  I was longing to be with her after days of torrential rains, and it was unlikely to rain that morning, so I headed to Beaver Dam Lake and the Bird Sanctuary to meditate.

It was lovely.  A gentle breeze blew through the warm air and caressed me.  My soul opened letting the concerns of the day drop away. I started walking through the Bird Sanctuary at one end of the lake and followed a rough path around a small pond where I used to see beautiful egrets balancing on one leg. I was startled.  Something had changed.  The pond was perfectly still and covered with scum and debris.  Just beyond it, the lake it fed into sparked blue and green in the morning light.  “How strange, “I thought, “they usually take excellent care of this place.”

As the path led away from the pond, I followed it along the far side of the lake, and after a while, realized I was on an old path.  The new path was above me.  “Oh well,” I decided, “if this ends and I have to back-track, that’s okay. All I care about is being here.”

Finding a Higher Path

Eventually the path ended in a pile of logs, but as soon as I stepped over them, I was on the higher main path.  Not having been to this side of the lake in a couple of years, I realized I was already a long way from where I started.  Something was different.  The lake seemed larger and I couldn’t see the bridge across the end of the lake.  Did they move it?  Had it been near where the boats were docked?  I couldn’t remember.

Before long, the path moved out from under the trees, and as the sunlight flooded over me, I felt such a joy being in nature.  But again, I was confused as I walked down the street because it took me further than before past houses that I had never seen.  The path below the houses’ backyards that bordered the lake at this end had always been private, but now a dirt path led from the street to the path along the water.  It appeared to be public, so while I followed it to be closer to the water, I also felt a bit like a trespasser.  Besides, at this point I felt adventurous and was beginning to enjoy Mother Nature’s surprises.

The path wound around the lake bringing me to the bridge I had imagined was closer to the Sanctuary.  I stopped and took in the immense beauty of the lake, shining clean and bright in the morning light.  I smiled, delighted that what I thought would be a routine hike had been a bit of an adventure.

The Other Side

The walkway leading back to the parking lot and Bird Sanctuary was clearer and more formal, winding around the side of the lake near the street where traffic noise invaded the silent beauty of nature.  By the time I reached the Bird Sanctuary, I was sweating and thankful for the cooling shade of the trees.  Resting at one of the overlooks on the water I could see the full view of the lake.

A young boy with his parents were there, insistent that he could climb a tree with only vertical branches.  Wedging his feet against opposite branches, he made some progress, but eventually gave up. As I turned to leave, a woman I knew who was a nature lover and birder appeared and we shared stories for a few minutes.  Then she went her way and I walked in the opposite direction to my favorite ancient tree. I hugged it as I always do, then sat on the nearby bench scanning the water-filled cove for ducks or turtles. A Tiger Swallowtail flitted around the cove and what may have been a Monarch butterfly surveyed the area.

We Are All One

Another mother with a young boy appeared on the path and she and I visited as the boy climbed the ancient tree whose branches were perfectly placed for climbing.  At a limb half-way up, the boy settled in.

“Aren’t you going further?” his mother asked surprised.

“No,” he replied smiling.  “I’m good.”

The mother looked at me as if to say, “that’s a first.”  Then she asked me, “Are you a mother?”

“No, I’m not.” I replied.

She continued, “Do you have a mother who is still alive?”

“No, I don’t.”

By this time the boy had come down from the tree.  “Well, Happy Sunday then,” she said smiling as they turned to continue down the path.

Until the woman posed her questions, I had forgotten it was Mother’s Day.  When I’m with Mother Nature, all of life, past and present, is One.  While I miss my mother and grandmother, they have been gone a long time and without them, it made perfect sense to be with the only other mother I still have.

All Is Well

After a while, I returned to the entrance of the Sanctuary and discovered why the small pond there was such a mess.  There was a sign explaining that it was an ecofilter wetland.  In other words, it was the place where the water coming from the stream that fed the lake was cleansed, filtering out toxins naturally so only clean water could feed the lake.  “Brilliant!” I thought, greatly relieved that the area was not being neglected.

As I turned toward the parking lot nearby, my phone rang and it was my husband letting me know he was heading home from church.  The timing was perfect.  Filled with happiness and peace, I took one last look at the sanctuary – the perfect place for me that morning, as well as for the birds.

© 2018 Georganne Spruce

Where is your perfect place?

Related Articles:  AWAKENING TO WILDNESS, ONE WITH NATURE, Part 2

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